NOAA 50th Anniversary Oral History Project | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

NOAA 50th Anniversary Oral History Project

  • Collection DOI:
    Principal Investigator:
    Cheryl Oliver, Gregory Romano, Dianna Parker
  • As NOAA celebrates its 50th Anniversary in 2020, there is renewed interest in expanding Oral Histories as a key component of the agency’s overall Heritage Program. Through Oral Histories, we will capture the theme: Celebrating the People Behind NOAA - 50 Years of   Science, Service and Stewardship.

Interviewee Collection Sort descending Description Interviewer Date of Interview Location of Interview Affiliation
Jerome "Nick" Heffter NOAA 50th Anniversary Oral History Project

Dr. Jerome "Nick" Heffter served as a research meteorologist at OAR's Air Resources Lab. He was a pioneer in modeling the dispersion of nuclear radiation and other atmospheric pollutants during the Cold War.  Nick tracked the release of nuclear radiation from Chernobyl in 1986 and reported it to US leaders before Russia informed the world of what is considered the worst nuclear accident in world history.  Currently, Nick is retired from NOAA, but works as a contractor at the Air Resources Lab.

Molly Graham Bethesda, MD NOAA Heritage Program, National Weather Service
John Ogren NOAA 50th Anniversary Oral History Project

John Ogren was born in 1966 in Blue Island, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. He was fascinated by the weather from an early age. He grew up listening to his grandfather's stories about the deadly 1967 oak lawn tornado outbreak. In high school, John became really interested in earth science and was "hooked" after a six-week weather unit in science class. Mr. Ogren attended Western Illinois University, where he graduated in 1988 with a degree in geography and a minor in broadcasting and communications.

Molly Graham Boston, MA NOAA Heritage Program, National Weather Service
Mary Kicza NOAA 50th Anniversary Oral History Project

Mary Kicza was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1959.  She earned a bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from California State University and a masters degree in Business Administration from the Florida Institute of Technology.  Mary started her federal career as a coop student working as a civil servant for the Air Force at McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento, California.  She worked at McClellan as an engineer developing software for automated test systems supporting Air Force satellite systems.  In 1982, Mary came to work for NASA where she stayed until 2005,

Molly Graham , Woodbine, MD NOAA Heritage Program, National Weather Service
W. Paul Menzel NOAA 50th Anniversary Oral History Project

Dr. W. Paul Menzel grew up in Maryland and attended the University of Maryland-College Park.  He attended The University of Wisconsin - Madison for his master's and PhD in Theoretical Solid State Physics.  Since 1967, Paul has worked as a scientist for the Space Science and Engineering Center in Madison.  He also started working as a adjunct professor in 1986 at UW, teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in physics and satellite meteorology.  In 1999, Dr. Menzel became the Chief Scientist for the Center for Satellite Applications and Research in NOAA/NESDIS.  

Molly Graham Madison, WI NOAA Heritage Program, National Weather Service
Edward Rappaport NOAA 50th Anniversary Oral History Project

Dr. Ed Rappaport was born in 1957 in Southern California. He earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of Washington.  Ed then received his Ph.D. with an emphasis in Atmospheric Science from Texas Tech University.  Dr. Rappaport began at NHC as a post-doctoral fellow for the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.

Molly Graham Miami, FL NOAA Heritage Program, National Weather Service
Helen Wood NOAA 50th Anniversary Oral History Project

Helen joined the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 1988 as Director of the Office of Satellite Data Processing and Distribution, in the NOAA Satellite and Information Service.  For more than 15 years she directed the operation of a space and Earth-based system that processed and distributed real-time data gathered by NOAA and other environmental satellites to support activities such as weather forecasting, ocean and climate monitoring, and satellite-assisted search and rescue. 

Molly Graham , , Bethesda, MD NOAA Heritage Program, National Weather Service
Thomas Wrublewski NOAA 50th Anniversary Oral History Project

Since 1980, Tom Wrublewski has been a physical scientist with the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service (NESDIS).

Molly Graham Lanham, MD NOAA Heritage Program, National Weather Service
Samuel P. DeBow Jr. NOAA 50th Anniversary Oral History Project

Rear Admiral Samuel P. DeBow Jr. was born in Philadelphia in 1953.  He earned his B.S. degree in Commerce and Engineering from Drexel University.  When RADM DeBow graduated in 1976, he became a commissioned officer in the NOAA Corps.  Sam earned his M.S. in Hydrographic Sciences from the Naval Postgraduate School, and was also a Senior Executive Fellow at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.  RADM DeBow served almost 30 years as an active-duty officer and is the prior Director of the NOAA Commissioned Corps and the NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations.

Molly Graham Olney, MD NOAA Heritage Program
Richard Feely NOAA 50th Anniversary Oral History Project

Dr. Richard Feely grew up in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Influenced by his love of the outdoors and exposure to Jacques Cousteau, Feely knew he would grow up to be an environmental scientist as early as the eighth grade. He earned his degree from St. Thomas University in his hometown, graduating with a degree in Chemistry in 1969. Feely then earned his master's and Ph.D. in Chemical Oceanography from Texas A&M University. He has worked for the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, Washington, from 1974 until the present.

Molly Graham , Lynnwood, WA NOAA Heritage Program, National Weather Service
David Vallee NOAA 50th Anniversary Oral History Project

David Vallee is the Hydrologist-in-Charge of the National Weather Service’s Northeast River Forecast Center. The center provides detailed water resource and life-saving flood forecasting services to National Weather Service Forecast Offices and the hundreds of federal, state and local water resource entities throughout the Northeast and New York. David has worked for the National Weather Service for 30 years, serving in a variety of positions including Senior Service Hydrologist at the Taunton Weather Forecast Office from 1993-2000 and as Science and Operations Officer from 2001-2006.

Molly Graham Scarborough, ME NOAA Heritage Program, National Weather Service