Bill Mahoney

photo of Bill Mahoney

  • BS in Aeronautics (1981)
  • MS in Atmospheric Science, University of Wyoming (1983)
  • Director, Research Applications Laboratory, National Center for Atmospheric Research

My Profession

"I am the Director of the Research Applications Laboratory (RAL) at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), in Boulder, Colorado. I have led weather-related research and development programs at NCAR for more than 32 years on a variety of topics including aviation, surface transportation, social sciences, intelligent forecast systems, wildland fire behavior prediction, and renewable energy. I've also written or co-authored more than 50 papers and frequently present NCAR's work at national and international conferences and seminars.

"I am a member of the American Meteorological Society (AMS), American Geophysical Union (AGU), Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITSA), American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), and the Utility Variable Generation Integration Group (UVIG). I served as the chair of the AMS Board on Enterprise Economic Development and was a member of the AMS Economic Development Committee. I am the past commissioner of the Commission on the Weather, Water, and Climate Enterprise and am an AMS Fellow."

My Miami Experiences

"When speaking to my university research collaborators, I always reference my Miami experience as being a foundation to my success. My pathway was initiated at Miami when I became a resident assistant (RA). My training and experience dealing with a diverse group of young people set the stage for taking on leadership positions throughout my career.

"As a Miami student I loved the campus and its beauty. The RA training program and experiences are certainly highlights. We also had some fantastic concerts between 1977 and 1981. These included Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, John Denver, and others.

"I was always interested in weather and weather prediction. I knew I wanted to be a meteorologist when I was 12 years old. Miami didn't have a degree in this area, so I chose Aeronautics, which included some meteorology courses. Graduate school was a requirement to be a successful researcher, so after Miami I went to the University of Wyoming for an M.S. degree in Atmospheric Science.

"After graduate school I was hired to lead scientific field studies in Greece and across the U.S. I was then hired by the NCAR in 1986 to lead aviation weather research and development programs that resulted in the FAA implementation of technologies to diagnose and predict wind shear, in-flight icing, turbulence, ceiling and visibility, and thunderstorm hazards. These capabilities are utilized daily by the aviation industry globally."

Miami and the Liberal Arts

"Learning people skills is critical, and having a broad perspective on a variety of topics makes you a much more balanced individual. I work with a lot of renowned scientists, and many don't have the people or leadership skills necessary to advocate for the sciences or mentor early career staff. A background in the liberal arts is an ideal way to provide these skills.

"The private sector weather, water, and climate enterprise is expanding rapidly as society becomes more vulnerable to severe weather events. Being a good problem solver in this field requires a convergence (convergence science) of math, physics, computer science, social science, hydrology, finance, big data, analytics, and others."

Advice to Students

"I would love the opportunity to return to Miami to give a talk about my profession and how Miami provided the foundation for a successful scientific leadership career. For now, I suggest that students choose classes and hand-on experiences that round out their major. Get involved in leadership opportunities and internships which expose you to the 'real world.'

[May 2019]