Meet Chris Lauer
NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center
Why does your work for NOAA matter?
As an IT Specialist here at the Space Weather Prediction Center, I perform a variety of work to support
the forecasters, researchers, and the public. My day can consist of troubleshooting an ailing server, working on
custom programs that produce space weather related data products, configuring new software, and (lately) posting
this web page. There are a lot of data and behind-the-scenes analysis that go into predicting space weather, and
I'm proud to be part of the team that keeps the data flowing and the systems in good health.
What do you enjoy the most about your work?
I'm fairly new to Space Weather, as I transferred from the National Hurricane Center only recently. So far
I'm really enjoying learning the science of Space Weather. I think its a fascinating field, and completely different
from the terrestrial weather I'm used to.
Where do you do most of your work? In a lab? In field studies?
I do most of my work behind a computer in my office. Quite a bit happens in conference rooms as well, as
the tasks I have to perform often involve working as part of our team of developers.
What in your lab could you not live without?
Certainly our IT Infrastructure. Computers are what makes our jobs possible.
If you could invent any instrument to advance your research and cost were no object, what
would it be? Why?
I would like an extremely high performance supercomputer. A lot of advances could be made in space weather (and
earth weather) forecasting with limitless computer resources.
When did you know you wanted to pursue science?
My first novel was "Night of the Twisters". I read it on the school bus in first grade, so I've had an interest in weather from a very early age.
What's at the top of your recommended reading list for someone wanting to explore a career in
For me science is about the pursuit of knowledge. I'd recommend reading books about things you're interested in. Start with science articles on the internet.
When something seems interesting, go to the library and delve deeper. Keep it up until you're reading scientific journals.
And how about a personal favorite book?
I really enjoy Science Fiction. I'd have to say The Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov.
What part of your job as a NOAA employee did you least expect to be doing?
When I first joined NOAA I would not have guessed I would end up working with Space Weather. I'm excited to be here, and surprised at the similarities
between forecasting a solar storm and forecasting a hurricane.
Do you have an outside hobby?
I have a lot of hobbies and interests. I think its helpful to do a variety of things to keep your mind fresh and seeded with new ideas.
I spend a lot of time hiking and mountain biking, nature is a great source of inspiration.
What would you be doing if you had not become a scientist?
I would probably be a software developer for something non-scientific.
Who is your favorite historical scientist and why?
Alan Turing. He's the father of computer science and is therefore responsible for much of how our
world works today.