The University of Arizona

Speaker Bios | CLIMAS

Speaker Bios


Speaker Bios

Tony Broccoli, Ph.D., is professor of atmospheric science in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University, where he also serves as Director of the Rutgers Climate and Environmental Change Initiative. Tony’s primary research interest involves climate dynamics, especially the simulation of past climates and climate change. He is Chief Editor of the Journal of Climate, and he has been active with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC. Prior to joining the Rutgers faculty, Tony had worked for 21 years at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton. He is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Dr. Christopher Castro is Associate Professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Arizona. His doctoral and postdoctoral work at the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University applied a regional atmospheric model to the investigation of North American summer climate. Current research within his group at the University of Arizona focuses principally on physical understanding and prediction of climate in North America through regional atmospheric modeling and analysis of observations. His main research emphasis is the North American Monsoon. As the Chair of the Geophysics Commission of the U.S. National Section of the Pan American Institute for Geography and History, Dr. Castro also helps facilitate joint research in this area between investigators in the United States and throughout Latin America.

Keith Dixon is a research meteorologist and climate modeler at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) in Princeton, N.J. His work involves using state-of-the-art computer models to simulate Earth’s global climate – past, present, and future – often with an emphasis on the role of oceans on decadal to centennial time scales. He has been active in national and international climate change assessment projects. Keith, whose undergraduate and graduate degrees in meteorology are from Rutgers, was named in 2008 as the first winner of NOAA’s Dr. Daniel L. Albritton Outstanding Science Communicator Award for excellence in communicating NOAA science and research to non-scientific audiences.

Dr. Jonathan Overpeck is a founding co-director of the Institute of the Environment at the University of Arizona, as well as a Professor of Geosciences and a Professor of Atmospheric Sciences. Dr. Overpeck has published over 130 papers in climate and the environmental sciences, and recently served as a Coordinating Lead Author for the Nobel Prize winning UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment (2007). Dr. Overpeck has active research programs in North America, South America, Africa and monsoon Asia, most commonly focused on providing paleoenvironmental insights on how key aspects of the Earth’s climate system may change in the future. Dr. Overpeck also has a strong interest in interactions, past, current and future between climate, ice sheets and sea level. In all of his work, Dr. Overpeck works hard to promote interdisciplinary perspectives, and also enhance the way that knowledge is communicated to, and used by, the public.

Dr. Joellen Russell is Associate Professor in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Arizona. Dr. Russell's research focuses on the ocean's role in climate. Her earlier work on the westerly winds led to her greatest research accomplishment so far: the creation of a new paradigm in climate science, namely that warmer climates produce stronger westerly winds. This insight solved one of the long-standing climate paradoxes, the mechanism responsible for transferring one-third of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere into the ocean and then back out again during our repeated glacial-interglacial cycles. Dr. Russell's recent work includes: patterns of drought in the continental US; the interactions and feedbacks between orogeny and orography and regional and global climate; and the circulation of the methane atmosphere on Saturn’s moon Titan. Dr. Russell continues active collaboration with the GFDL Earth System Model and Climate Model Development Teams, and is currently serving as a member of the U.S. CLIVAR Office, Process Studies and Model Improvements Panel.

Benjamin D. Santer, Ph.D. is a physicist and atmospheric scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory at the University of California in Livermore. Ben’s research interests include identification of human-induced climate change in observations, and evaluation of climate model performance. As a physicist in the Earth and Environmental Sciences Directorate at Lawrence Livermore, he works on statistical methods in climate model validation, climate change detection, and attribution studies. Ben in 2002 earned the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award for environmental science and technology and an Outstanding Scientific Paper Award from NOAA. He won a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship in 1998 and was included in The New York Times “Science Times” profiles of groundbreaking scientists in 2000. He has been a Contributor and a Convening Lead Author with  IPCC, a member of NOAA’s Science Advisory Panel, and a member of the National Research Council’s panel on “Reconciling Observations of Temperature Change.” A member of the American Geophysical Union, Ben earned his B.S. in Environmental Sciences from the University of East Anglia, Norwich, U.K., and his Ph.D. in Climatology from the University of East Anglia.

Dr. Tom Swetnam is a Professor in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Arizona, and Director of the Laboratory of Tree-ring Research. His work focuses on natural and cultural disturbances of forest ecosystems across a broad range of temporal and spatial scales using dendrochronology (tree rings) in combination with other natural archives and documentary sources to reconstruct the histories of fire, insect outbreaks, human land uses, and climate. His research is aimed at improving basic understanding of the history and dynamics of forests and woodlands, particularly for applications in ecosystem management. With his students and collaborators, Dr. Swetnam is currently studying disturbance and climate histories in the Southwestern U.S., northern Mexico, Sierra Nevada of California, Northern Rockies of Idaho and Montana, Blue Mountains of Oregon, Southern Rockies in Colorado, Patagonia region of Argentina, and the Central Plateau of Siberia, Russia.

Bud Ward is Editor of The Yale Forum on Climate Change & The Media. He started his environmental journalism career in 1974 and later served as Assistant Director of a Congressional Clean Air Act Study Commission before founding The Environmental Forum policy magazine in 1982. A co-founder of the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ), he twice served as a regular environmental analyst and commentator for National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" and "Morning Edition," and in 1979 he founded and managed the Central European Environmental Journalism Program. He was Advisory Editor for the Oxford UniversitySecond Edition of Encyclopedia of Climate and Weather (2007); and an adviser to the United Nations Development Program's Human Development Report, Climate Change and Human Development. During its existence, he administered the $75,000 Grantham Prize for Excellence in Reporting on the Environment. George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communications in 2009 named him its “Climate Change Communicator of the Year.”  Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), a member of the National Association of Science Writers (NASW), and a member of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and American Meteorological Society (AMS).

Joe Witte has spent about four decades doing local weathercasting for a several local TV stations – KING in Seattle, KYW in Philadelphia, WITI in Milwaukee, and WJLA in Washington, D.C. and national forecasting for CNBC and for NBC’s “Today” show. He now is following-upon his first career – climate science. In the 1960s, Joe worked as a glaciologist for the U.S. Geological Survey, doing research over the Arctic Ocean on winter and summer radiation heat budget and cloud physics. He spent a post-graduate year at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, N.J., and while pursuing a doctorate at George Mason University he currently works part-time with NASA Goddard Institute on climate science outreach to local and network broadcast meteorologists. His George Mason research project was “TV Meteorologists as Climate Science Educators: Surveys and Solutions in Communication.” As the VO voice for NBC’s TODAY program, Joe also is managing to maintain a finger-hold in broadcasting.

Bernadette Woods Placky is an Emmy- award winning meteorologist with Climate Central, a non-profit science journalism organization headquartered in Princeton, NJ. As manager of the TV Meteorology program, Bernadette provides meteorologists across the country with tools to help communicate the science behind extreme weather and climate change. Placky got her start at AccuWeather, Inc. where she forecast for clients around the country.  That experience led her to a ten year career as a broadcast meteorologist, working at KNWA (Fayetteville, AR), WLEX (Lexington, KY), and mostly recently, WJZ (Baltimore, MD). Placky has a B.S. in Meteorology/minor in French from Penn State University, where she is a steering committee member for MAPS (Meteorology Alumni of Penn State.) She also earned both American Meteorological Society certifications — Television Seal of Approval and Certified Broadcast Meteorologist.