Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Honoring Joanne Simpson

Source: USA Today
Given that today is International Women's Day, I'd like to take a few moments to honor a pioneer in meteorology, Joanne Simpson.  

Joanne was the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in meteorology and the first woman elected President of the American Meteorological Society.  She was also a winner of the Rossby Medal, the highest award given by the American Meteorological Society, which is "presented to individuals on the basis of outstanding contributions to the understanding of the structure or behavior of the atmosphere."

A comprehensive biography of Joanne's life by John Weier is available at the NASA Earth Observatory web site.  It is well worth a read (be sure to drag or click down through the various sections).  He notes that after graduation, she was repeatedly turned down for a job because of her gender.  She eventually took a position at the Illinois Institute of Technology, followed by tenures at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, UCLA, NOAA, the University of Virginia, and finally NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.  As described by John Weier, her move from Virginia to NASA goddard was at least partially related to the fact that women faculty were held in low regard, but NASA provided a "far more favorable environment in which to work."  

Joanne's contributions to meteorology span cloud processes and deep convection, weather modification, and tropical meteorology, and include over 190 authored or co-authored articles. 

Joanne died in 2010 at the age of 86.  Additional tributes to her are available from the American Meteorological Society and Boston Globe.  

1 comment:

  1. Great tribute! I never worked with her, but do remember her at NASA GSFC.