NORMAN — The head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had a whirlwind visit Monday to the National Weather Center at the University of Oklahoma and the Radar Operations Center at OU's North Base.
It marked NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco's first visit to Norman since taking the helm of the federal agency in March 2009. Lubchenco is the ninth person to take charge of NOAA, and the first woman to do so.
"I've heard so many things about the team here, and it has been a joy to see it firsthand," Lubchenco said. "It's so exciting to meet the people doing the work where cutting-edge science is translating into the tools and products and information that save lives and property."
Her visit began at 7 a.m. with breakfast with Berrien Moore, dean of the OU College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences, and Kelvin Droegemeier, OU's vice president of research, and lasted until about 6 p.m., when her tour of the phased array radar facility was scheduled to end.
During the day, Lubchenco toured the National Weather Center, had a meeting with about 200 NOAA employees working in Norman, visited all five NOAA Weather Partners agencies in Norman and had coffee with OU President David Boren, all before touring the two radar facilities.
Lubchenco said she is a marine biologist by training, so seeing the research facilities in Norman and learning how their findings go directly into technology that meteorologists use for weather forecasting and warning interested her.
So did the interactions between NOAA agencies, private business and OU faculty and students, she said.
"It was fun to meet a lot of the students," Lubchenco said. "There are so many people here for them to learn from, but they also push the system; they ask questions, and they have ideas. It's good for everybody because you have a combination of experience and youth."
Lubchenco taught at Harvard University for two years and at Oregon State University for 32 years until 2009, when she became NOAA administrator. Her areas of scientific expertise are in oceans, climate change and the environment.
NOAA is the federal administration that oversees scientific agencies in weather, climate, fisheries, oceans and the coasts.