William "Bill" Hooke, Ph.D

Location of Interview
Collection Name

NOAA Heritage Oral History Project


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.

Date of Interview

Samm Newton
Molly Graham

Principal Investigator

There's a tendency to think when other people don't think like you or sound like you that there's something wrong with them.  But the ecologist doesn't go into the jungle and look at the jaguar and the lemur and the poison toad and say, “Two of you must be wrong.”  The ecologist goes in and says, “What is it about this ecosystem that means that you are all ideal for what you do?”

Dr. William Hooke is a prominent American meteorologist and policy expert who has made significant contributions to the fields of atmospheric science and weather forecasting. He is currently serving as a Senior Fellow at the American Meteorological Society, where he focuses on climate change, weather risk management, and societal impacts of weather and climate. Dr. Hooke has authored or co-authored more than 100 articles, reports, and book chapters, and he has served on numerous scientific advisory boards and committees. He is a recognized expert in the field of meteorology and has received several awards for his contributions, including the AMS Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Advance of Applied Meteorology and the Charles Franklin Brooks Award for Outstanding Service to the Society. In addition to his scientific work, Dr. Hooke is also known for his advocacy on climate change policy and his efforts to promote interdisciplinary collaboration between meteorologists, policymakers, and other stakeholders.

Scope and Content Note
Session 1 - April 25, 2023: Dr. Hooke provides insights into his personal and family history, as well as his career in academia and weather modification. The interview covers various topics, including his childhood experiences in his grandparents' salon, his father's career as a mathematician and professor, and his own educational journey. Additionally, the interview touches on his father's involvement in teaching military personnel during World War II and his own work with John Tukey at Princeton University. The interview also mentions his father's research on cloud seeding and the connections he made in the field of weather modification later in his career. 

Session 2 - May 2, 2023: Hooke explores his family history and the influence of his grandparents on his life. The interview delves into the details of his family background, including stories passed down through oral tradition and a long list of ancestors provided by his father. Hooke discusses the settlement of his grandparents in Chattanooga and Greensboro, as well as anecdotes about their relationships and personalities. The interview also touches on Hooke's experiences with his grandparents as a child and young adult. Additionally, Hooke shares insights into his family's involvement in word puzzles and writing, including his father's membership in the National Puzzlers League and his own interest in compiling lists of words. 

Session 3 - May 9, 2023: In this interview, Bill Hooke discusses his father's research in p-adic numbers and statistics, his uncle's influence on his life, and his family dynamics. He talks about his experience with religion, his mother's reaction to his church attendance, and the complicated relationships within his family.

Session 4 - May 23, 2023: This discussion primarily focuses on the personal and professional life of Dr. Hooke's brother, John Allen Hooke, who was born in 1945 in Raleigh, North Carolina. The interview also delves into the history and significance of operations research, with Dr. Hooke providing examples from World War II to illustrate the practical applications of this field. He further discusses the role of science and engineering in warfare, highlighting how military needs have often driven scientific advancements and investments. The conversation also touches upon the recruitment of European scientists and engineers during and after World War II and their significant contributions to the U.S. space program.

Session 5 - May 30, 2023: Dr. Bill Hooke discusses various topics, including the founding of the National Academy of Sciences, his membership with the American Philosophical Society, the role of scientists in society, and his experience as a graduate student at the University of Chicago. He reflects on the challenges of scientific education and the pressure to finish his thesis on time.

Session 6 - June 6, 2023: In this interview, Dr. Bill Hooke reflects on his journey from elementary school to his involvement in the Summer Policy Colloquium. He discusses his interest in weather, electronics, and physics, as well as his struggles with socializing.

Session 7 - June 13, 2023: Dr. Bill Hooke reflects on his journey from elementary school to his involvement in the Summer Policy Colloquium. He discusses his interest in weather, electronics, and physics, as well as his struggles with socializing. He also expresses his support for women in science and acknowledges the injustice and inequity they face. 

Session 8 - July 3, 2023: Dr. Bill Hooke discusses his reading habits, influential books on management and leadership, the importance of understanding politics and policy-making, and the need for scientists to engage in the policy process. He also talks about the difference between urgent and vital matters, his education at Swarthmore College, and his experience in graduate school at the University of Chicago.

Session 9 - July 11, 2023: This conversation revolves around Bill's experiences during his college days at Swarthmore College and his time as a graduate student at the University of Chicago. Bill discusses the competitive nature of science, the challenges he faced as a graduate student, and his switch to studying ionospheric irregularities. He also mentions the support he received from his advisor and the influence of physicist Eugene Parker.

Session 10 - July 25, 2023: This interview provides insights into Hooke's education in geophysics, his professional journey, and his experiences working at the Ionospheric Telecommunications Lab and the Wave Propagation Lab. Hook talks about his mentor Dr. Colin Hines, his transition into management, and his reflections on leadership and organizational culture. The interview also delves into Hooke's career progression, including his role as a branch chief at the Wave Propagation Lab and his involvement in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Development Program.

Session 11 - August 2, 2023: Bill Hooke delves into his experiences in government and nonprofits, highlighting the significance of working with exceptional individuals in fostering creativity and innovation. Hooke reflects on his tenure at NOAA, challenges in securing funding, leadership development initiatives, and establishing trust between political and career staff, as well as the recruitment of top scientists for his projects.

Session 12 - August 9, 2023: Bill Hooke reflects on his diverse experiences at NOAA, discussing his roles in the NAPAP program, the ocean drilling program, and as the deputy chief scientist. He highlights the challenges he faced in managing various scientific programs and navigating the political landscape within the organization. Hooke also acknowledges the influence of key figures like Jim Mahoney during his tenure at NOAA.

Session 13 - August 16, 2023: Dr. Hooke discusses his involvement in environmental assessment programs and policy development, highlighting the challenges faced, the importance of accurate information for policymakers, and the role of scientists in shaping policy decisions. He also reflects on his experiences in federal programs and the significance of understanding diverse perspectives in Washington, emphasizing the need for effective leadership in addressing environmental issues. Additionally, he touches on the role of trust, forgiveness, and faith in addressing environmental challenges and the difference between being driven and being called in one's work.

Session 14 - August 23, 2023: Dr. Bill Hooke reflects on his career journey within NOAA, discussing his roles as deputy chief scientist and acting chief scientist. He emphasizes the importance of management styles, values, and personal connections in leadership. Hooke also highlights the significance of consensus in decision-making processes and praises the leadership of Kathy Sullivan during transitions between administrations.

Session 15 - August 30, 2023: Dr. Bill Hooke discusses leadership, collaboration, and mentoring in this interview with Mona Behl. He highlights the importance of listening, sharing ideas, and adopting a "Go-Giver" mentality. Emphasizing the role of a leader in fostering collaboration and a positive mindset, he draws on his government experience to stress the value of creating neutral spaces for cooperation.

Session 16 - September 6, 2023: In this interview, Dr. Hooke discusses faith, marriage, global issues, and natural disaster risk reduction. Personal stories, reflections on influential books, and the importance of sharing information globally are key themes. The significance of social scientists in the weather enterprise, challenges in policy-making diversity, and leadership in natural disaster reduction are also highlighted.

Session 17 - September 13, 2023: The interview Dr. Bill Hooke delves into the significance of prioritizing disaster resilience and equity in communities, especially in the face of climate change. He highlights the importance of looking towards the future, balancing hindsight and foresight, and fostering awareness and transparency to tackle these challenges effectively. The conversation also touches on the role of public-private partnerships in disaster response and the necessity for local communities to be well-prepared for potential disasters.

Session 18 - September 27, 2023: This interview delves into the significance of failure in science, his career journey from NOAA to the American Meteorological Society (AMS), and the creation and evolution of the successful Summer Policy Colloquium program. Hooke emphasizes the importance of learning from failures, utilizing strengths in management roles, and addressing flaws in the educational system while reflecting on his experiences and contributions to the weather, water, and climate community.

Session 19 - October 4, 2023: This interview delves into the intersection of science and policy-making, highlighting the importance of scientists engaging with policymakers at the local level. Hooke stresses the significance of listening, responsiveness, and problem-solving in addressing community issues and influencing decision-making. The conversation also touches on the global implications of local policy decisions and the potential for organizations like the Summer Policy Colloquium to amplify these efforts.

Session 20 - October 20, 2023: Dr. Bill Hooke discusses the importance of innovation in policy at the local level, highlighting examples such as gas mileage standards and state-level climate initiatives. He emphasizes the value of in-person meetings and neutral platforms for engaging with policymakers, as well as the significance of public education and democracy in advocacy efforts. Additionally, Hooke reflects on his professional purpose at AMS, aiming to make effective science policy possible for the larger world and help build resilience to hazards. He stresses the importance of fostering creativity and innovation, enabling others to contribute, and expresses gratitude for the collaborative opportunities that have allowed him to learn and grow.

Session 21 - October 25, 2023: In the interview, Mona Behl and William Hooke discuss sustainability and the writing process behind Hooke's book Living on the Real World. Hooke also shares insights on his career transition to a higher position within the AMS and his subsequent decision to move to part-time work. Additionally, Hooke reflects on his time at the AMS policy program, highlighting the differences in organizational culture between federal government agencies and organizations like AMS.

Session 22 - November 1, 2023: Behl and Hooke emphasize the significance of collaboration and the integration of traditional ecological knowledge in meteorology to address humanitarian aspects. They stress the importance of intergenerational knowledge transfer and respecting diverse perspectives. The interviewee underscores the value of selflessness, generosity, and prioritizing the well-being of others, drawing parallels from nature . Additionally, the conversation delves into the impact of AI and technology on society, advocating for adaptive policies that benefit all through evidence-based decision-making and dialogue.

Session 23 - November 8, 2023: The interview with Dr. Bill Hooke delves into the importance of maintaining a positive and forward-thinking mindset, emphasizing the value of experimentation, youth, and hope in problem-solving and addressing global challenges. Hooke stresses the significance of stimulating thought and improvement, advocating for a focus on sharing hope rather than cynicism in tackling issues. He also touches on the responsibilities that come with initiatives like his blog, "Living on the Real World," highlighting the need for action and cooperation in creating a better future.

Session 24 - November 22, 2023: The importance of gratitude, forgiveness, and recognizing the contributions of others in making life meaningful is discussed by Dr. Bill Hooke and Mona Behl. Hooke emphasizes expressing gratitude daily, belonging to a higher power, and taking responsibility for actions. The significance of science, free will, and the role of wealthier nations in climate change reparations are also touched upon, highlighting the interconnectedness of gratitude, responsibility, and action in living a fulfilling life.

Session 25 - November 29, 2023: The interview with Dr. Bill Hooke delves into various aspects of his life, including family, marriage, faith, gratitude, and forgiveness. Through personal anecdotes and reflections, Dr. Hooke emphasizes the significance of collaboration, commitment, and self-awareness in relationships. He shares insights on navigating family dynamics, the role of forgiveness and faith, and the impact of personal experiences on shaping one's perspective on life.

Session 26 - December 6, 2023: Dr. Bill Hooke reflects on the impact of his family, particularly his wife Chris and his children, on his life and values. He discusses the importance of accountability, commitment, and follow-through in relationships, emphasizing universal principles that apply to all aspects of life. Additionally, he shares insights into his professional life, highlighting the influence of his faith and family on his work, including his admiration for Lewis Fry Richardson and his involvement in climate change initiatives.

Session 27 - December 13, 2023: The interview with Bill Hooke delves into various deep topics such as faith, climate change, renewal, and the significance of open dialogues about death and dying. Hooke emphasizes the importance of love, trust, and community in these discussions, drawing from his Christian perspective on death and resurrection. The conversation also explores the role of professional societies like the American Meteorological Society in facilitating these conversations and fostering understanding.

Session 28 - December 20, 2023: The interview with Dr. Bill Hooke delves into the significance of critical thinking in journalism, education, and society. Hooke also discusses his efforts in enhancing weather forecasting and warning systems in the US, stressing the value of collaboration, social factors, and public engagement in science, particularly in the context of climate change. Additionally, he emphasizes the role of journalists in effectively communicating scientific information to the public.

Session 29 - January 24, 2024: Dr. Bill Hooke discusses his work on disaster reduction and building partnerships in the weather-water-climate enterprise. The interview highlights the importance of evaluating climate legislation, utilizing artificial intelligence for climate impact understanding, and promoting collaboration and innovation in addressing societal issues related to disasters and climate change.

Session 30 - February 7, 2024: The conversation delves into the significance of oral history, mentorship, and personal connections, emphasizing the value of open-ended discussions and the impact of individual experiences on questioning. The dialogue also touches on the importance of documenting environmental change and cultural traditions through oral history, highlighting the challenges faced in the field and the shift towards digital formats. Additionally, insights are shared on the influence of family, advice for future professionals in the weather, water, and climate sectors, and the importance of storytelling for future generations.

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