Meet Doug Biesecker
NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center
Why does your work for NOAA matter?
Many industries critical to our everyday life, from electrical power to air transportation
to the global positioning system depend on space weather forecasts from NOAA. More
personally, the data I'm responsible for bringing into NOAA and the models these data drive
are the most critical for protecting these industries.
What do you enjoy the most about your work?
Space Weather is a national and international enterprise and I work with other Federal
agencies and with international collaborators on a daily basis. Bringing these diverse
interests together and uniting them to a common purpose is incredibly satisfactory.
Where do you do most of your work? In a lab? In field studies?
I work in my office, in front of a computer, for everything I do. This may sound boring, but
I have access to space weather data in real-time from my office, so I can see everything our
24x7 forecast center can see.
What in your lab could you not live without?
The Space Weather Forecast Office in our building is what I could not live without.
Everything I do has the goal of improving the products and services that they deliver to our
customers. Without the Forecast Office, there would be no reason for me to do my job.
If you could invent any instrument to advance your research and cost were no object, what
would it be? Why?
The singular instrument that would allow definitive space weather forecasting with lead
times of up to 4 days would be one that would allow me to sample or determine via remote
sensing the magnetic field strength and direction inside of Coronal Mass Ejections. The
magnetic field is the most important parameter for determining how strong the resulting
Geomagnetic Storm will be.
When did you know you wanted to pursue science?
I was always drawn to astronomy. I was a child of the Apollo era and remember having a
television being set up in the elementary school cafeteria so we could watch events such as
launches, moon landings, moon walks, and splash downs. That interest followed me all the
way to a summer job at NASA studying the Sun and solar flares. Working side by side with
PhD researchers showed me that I could pursue this all the way to where I am today.
Do you have an outside hobby?
My biggest hobby would be exercising. From marathons; to triathlons; to riding my bike
over mountain passes; to snow shoe races, I mainly look for things that test me and push me
to my limits.
What would you be doing if you had not become a scientist?
If I could still be a scientist, I'd be a marine biologist studying sharks. If I wasn't allowed to
be a scientist at all, I would probably vote for being a race director, putting together races
from triathlons to non-standard triathlons, to adventure races, to extreme obstacle courses.