Beginning this month, Paul Higgins has succeeded Bill Hooke as director of the AMS Policy Program. Hooke will move into a senior policy fellow position and also more fully embrace the position of associate executive director of the AMS that he has nominally held for several years (he will also continue writing his blog on science, climate, and policy, Living on the Real World).
“I have big shoes to fill,” Higgins said, “but the fact that those big shoes will be standing with me will be a great help.”
After spending a year on Capitol Hill learning about the policy process as an AMS-UCAR Congressional Science Fellow, Higgins joined the Policy Program staff in 2006 as senior policy fellow, and was named associate director of the program in 2010. In these roles he has coordinated the AMS Climate Briefing Series, supervised the AMS-UCAR Congressional Science Fellowship Program, and helped train Earth scientists to engage the federal policy process at the AMS Summer Policy Colloquium. He also studies climate policy options and conducts scientific research on the causes and consequences of climate change. His scientific research involves the study of the two-way interaction between the atmosphere and the land surface, and his policy research involves analyzing existing legislative approaches and developing risk-management strategies that can overcome contentious political obstacles to climate policy.
In 2011, he was selected as a Google Science Communication Fellows–one of twenty-one early- to mid-career Ph.D. scientists across the United States chosen to participate in a workshop that included hands-on training and brainstorming on topics of technology and science communication.
In looking forward, Higgins cites two primary challenges the Policy Program faces: 1) ensuring that policy choices take full advantage of the knowledge and understanding made possible by Earth observations, science, and services; and 2) making sure that policy makers understand how much the nation’s welfare depends on those observations, science, and services.
“Meeting these two grand challenges,” Higgins said, “will strengthen the AMS community and, more importantly, help the nation and the world avoid risks and realize opportunities related to the Earth system.”
Hooke joined the Policy Program (which was then called the Atmospheric Policy Program) in 2000 and had been its director since 2001 while also serving as a senior policy fellow. In that time he directed the AMS policy education programs, including the Summer Policy Colloquium and the Congressional Science Fellowship Program. His research interests include natural disaster reduction, historical precedents as they illuminate present-day policy, and the nature and implications of changing national requirements for weather and climate science and services.
“Serving as AMS associate executive director is a high honor,” Hooke said of his new role. “I hope to serve our community well.”
“This transition acknowledges that Bill has been very active in a variety of AMS initiatives, and allows him to more visibly represent the entire AMS,” said AMS Executive Director Keith Seitter. “Meanwhile, Paul brings new ideas and a fresh leadership to the Policy Program while becoming a member of the Society’s management team.”