NOAA Heritage Oral History Project

  • Collection DOI:
    Principal Investigator:
    Cheryl Oliver, Gregory Romano, Dianna Parker
  • NOAA Heritage Oral History Project aims to document the history and legacy of NOAA through compelling interviews with its leaders. These firsthand accounts provide an invaluable resource that preserves NOAA's significant contributions to environmental research and management, fostering a deeper understanding of NOAA's vital role in shaping our understanding of the Earth's oceans and atmosphere.

Interviewee Collection Sort descending Description Interviewer Date of Interview Location of Interview Affiliation
Edward Johnson NOAA Heritage Oral History Project

Dr. Edward Johnson was born in Columbus, Georgia, in 1950.  Johnson attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for his undergraduate and graduate education, earning his PhD in Civil Engineering in 1978.  He came to work for the National Weather Service Office of Hydrology, Hydrologic Research Laboratory as a research hydrologist in 1978.  In 1999, Mr. Johnson served as director of Strategic Planning and Policy for the National Weather Service and retired in 2015.  

Scope and Content Note

Molly Graham Silver Spring, MD NOAA Heritage Program, National Weather Service
Eddie Bernard NOAA Heritage Oral History Project

Eddie Bernard, born in 1946 in Houston, Texas, is a renowned tsunami expert with a significant career at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Raised in Beaumont, Texas, Bernard's family history traces back to their migration from Canada to Louisiana. His early interest in science and natural disasters, particularly tsunamis, propelled him towards a career in oceanography. Influenced by his high school teachers, Bernard pursued higher education at Lamar University, where he cultivated his passion for oceanography and met his future wife.

Molly Graham Bellevue, WA NOAA Heritage Program, National Weather Service
Michael Seki NOAA Heritage Oral History Project

In his role as Director of the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, Dr. Seki provides the science direction and oversight of research activities that support stewardship of living marine resources in the vast expanse of the Pacific Islands Region. Since joining NOAA Fisheries in 1980, Dr. Seki has conducted extensive fisheries, oceanographic, and ecosystem research on many marine species in the Pacific. He has authored or co-authored more than 40 scientific papers and participated in over 20 domestic and international research surveys.

Molly Graham Honolulu, HI NOAA Heritage Program, National Weather Service
Samuel Baker NOAA Heritage Oral History Project

On August 26th, 1922, in Clarksdale, Mississippi, Captain Sam Baker was born to a father who had immigrated from Lithuania in 1902 at the age of 15 and a mother who hailed from Louisville, Kentucky, born in 1900. After graduating from Clarksdale High School in June 1940, Baker pursued further studies, earning a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Mississippi State University in August 1943. In September 1943, he enlisted in the Marines and served in Hawaii, Guam, and Guadalcanal, where Baker joined the 6th Marine Division.

Molly Graham , , Scottsdale, AZ NOAA Heritage Program, National Weather Service
Tim Schmit NOAA Heritage Oral History Project

Timothy Schmit was born in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, in 1962. He earned a B.S. and M.S. in Meteorology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After graduating, he worked as a researcher for the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies. From 1996 to the present, Mr. Schmit has worked as a meteorologist for NOAA/NESDIS and is based in Madison, Wisconsin.  

Scope and Content Note

Molly Graham Madison, WI NOAA Heritage Program, National Weather Service
James McFadden NOAA Heritage Oral History Project

Dr. James McFadden was born in Winchester, Virginia, in 1934.  He graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and graduated with a degree in geology.  In 1960, James was offered a research assistantship at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's meteorology program.  He spent five years in Madison and earned his PhD in meteorology.  In 1965, McFadden came to work for the Environmental Science Services Administration's Sea-Air Laboratory, part of the Office of Meteorological Research in Washington, D.C. as a research scientist.

Molly Graham Lakeland, FL NOAA Heritage Program, National Weather Service
Sim Aberson NOAA Heritage Oral History Project

"Dr. Sim Aberson is a meteorologist at NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division, located at AOML in Miami, FL. His research has focused on observing systems to give Hurricane Specialists at the National Hurricane Center information to improve their hurricane forecasts. He participates in NOAA’s annual Hurricane Field Program and has worked with different observing platforms, especially dropwindsondes, to optimize sampling from Hurricane Hunter Aircraft and the way the data are assimilated into forecast models.

Molly Graham Dania Beach, FL NOAA Heritage Program, National Weather Service
Max Mayfield NOAA Heritage Oral History Project

Max Mayfield was born on September 19, 1948, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He attended the University of Oklahoma, earning a Bachelor of Science in Meteorology. He began his career with the National Weather Service in 1972 and held various positions within the organization before becoming the director of the National Hurricane Center in 2000. Mayfield pursued further education at Florida State University, obtaining a Master of Science degree in Meteorology. During his tenure, he provided expertise and guidance during numerous significant hurricanes, including Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Molly Graham , , Miami, FL NOAA Heritage Program, National Weather Service
Jerome "Nick" Heffter NOAA Heritage 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.

Scope and Content Note

Molly Graham Bethesda, MD NOAA Heritage Program, National Weather Service
John Ogren NOAA Heritage 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