NCAR names second cohort of Early Career Faculty Innovators

Program fosters strong ties between NCAR and social, policy, and behavioral scientists

Nov 10, 2021 - by Laura Snider

The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) has named 12 faculty members from U.S. universities to its second cohort of its Early Career Faculty Innovator Program

The program is open to faculty from the social, policy, and behavioral sciences and provides the opportunity for those researchers to partner with NCAR scientists to address complex research problems with societal importance. Awardees and their graduate students receive funding for two years, including support for research as well as extended stays in Boulder to collaborate with NCAR scientists and others in the cohort in person. 

The program was founded in 2019 to enhance NCAR’s capacity to effectively partner with external collaborators across a broad spectrum of human dimensions and social science research. It’s research themes and program goals support strategic priorities for both NCAR and its main sponsor, the National Science Foundation.

“As NCAR continues to address some of society’s greatest challenges, including a changing climate and the worsening impacts of severe weather, it’s critical that we foster and support strong partnerships with scientists and institutions that have expertise in a wide range of disciplines that extend and enhance our core work,” said NCAR Director Everette Joseph. “Pairing these Faculty Innovators and their students with NCAR researchers builds on the experience of NCAR researchers, expands the reach of NCAR science, broadens participation from minority serving institutions, and increases the capacity of NCAR to do actionable and convergent research.”

This cohort’s research theme is actionable Earth system science, and the funded projects address a range of important topics, including improving social adaptation to wildfires, integrating climate data into farm management, communicating extreme weather risks for protecting human health and critical infrastructure systems, and mitigating bias for environmental justice in Black communities. 

“It’s an honor to be one of the NCAR-funded researchers working to bring visibility to some of the most pressing challenges facing humanity today,” said Jola Ajibade, an assistant professor of Geography at Portland State University who is part of the new cohort. “NCAR continues to show great leadership in this area by bringing together diverse scholars, voices, and approaches to address the knowledge gaps in science, generate new actionable ideas, and create innovative pathways and solutions. No other time in human history has this type of collaborative, ambitious, and inclusive engagement of people of all races, cultures, gender, political affiliation, and educational backgrounds mattered more.”

The new cohort begins as the first one wraps up their projects, which were related to the theme of coastal regions and humans development

“The first cohort of faculty, who began the program in 2019, demonstrated the value of convergence research initiatives at NCAR and the transformative power of nurturing partnerships with communities,” said NCAR scientist Cassandra O’Lenick, who coordinates the program. “We are excited to continue building on that success and we look forward to working with this new cohort on such societally important projects.”

2021-2023 cohort

Introducing the university faculty in the new Early Career Faculty Innovator Program cohort and their areas of research:

Jola Ajibade Jola Ajibade. Assistant Professor, Geography

Portland State University

Equitable and transformative resilience planning for climate-related cascading disasters in Portland-Metro Area
Kevin Ash Kevin Ash. Assistant Professor, Geography

University of Florida

A geospatial awareness framework for weather warning communication and decision support
Kelly Dunning Kelly Dunning. Assistant Professor, Conservation Governance

School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University

How marginalized communities are adapting to climate change: A case study of coral reefs and the communities that depend on them
Catrin Edgeley Catrin Edgeley. Assistant Professor, Natural Resource Sociology

School of Forestry, Northern Arizona University

Improving social adaptation to wildfire through informed evacuation planning and decision making: What role for atmospheric models?
Kelsey Emard Kelsey Emard. Instructor and Assistant Professor (Senior Researcher), Geography

Oregon State University

Integrating climate data into farm management: A case study in the Willamette Valley, Oregon, to guide actionable science
Yue Ge Yue 'Gurt' Ge. Assistant Professor, Emergency Management and Urban and Regional Planning

School of Public Administration, University of Central Florida

Communicating hurricane forecasts for the critical infrastructure resilience in central Florida
Cleo Woelfle Hazard Cleo Woelfle Hazard. Assistant Professor, Equity and Environmental Justice

School of Marine and Environmental Affairs, University of Washington

Centering climate adaptation science and policy in Indigenous ecocultural practice to restore floodplains and ecohydrological processes in the Klamath River basin, California
Michée Lachaud Michée Lachaud. Assistant Professor, Agribusiness

College of Agriculture and Food Sciences, Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University

Climate change, adaptation and welfare implications: A study of U.S. agriculture
Michael Mendez Michael Mendez. Assistant Professor, Environmental Policy and Planning

School of Social Ecology, University of California, Irvine

Are undocumented Latino/a and Indigenous migrants worthy disaster victims?
Amy Quarkume Amy Quarkume. Associate Professor, Africana Studies

Department of Afro-American Studies, Howard University

Pathways to mitigating bias for environmental justice in Black communities
Kate Ricke Kate Ricke. Assistant Professor

School of Global Policy and Strategy, University of California San Diego

Geopolitically constrained Earth system model simulations of climate geoengineering
Fernando Tormos-Aponte Fernando Tormos-Aponte. Assistant Professor, Public Policy and Political Science

University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Energy inequality in the wake of disasters: Building optimal disaster resource allocation approaches through assessments of social vulnerability


Learn more about the Innovators and their projects


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