Welcome Letter

College of the Environment
Becky Alexander, Program on Climate Change Director and Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington

October 2019

The PCC aims to advance our understanding of climate science in order to help society address the challenges of climate change. We do this by facilitating fundamental climate science education and research among the UW community. Climate science is interdisciplinary by nature, so that climate change research at the UW spans multiple departments, colleges and research institutes. In order to tackle some of the most pressing and difficult challenges for understanding climate change and its impacts, scientists must work together across disciplinary boundaries. I joined the UW through a PCC initiative to hire faculty doing interdisciplinary climate research with reach across the three original core PCC units of Atmospheric Sciences, Earth and Space Sciences, and the School of Oceanography. During my almost 15 years at the UW, the PCC has given me the opportunity to work with and interact with climate researchers across the different units in the College of the Environment and beyond. These interactions and collaborations have allowed my research to expand beyond my own individual expertise, with significant benefits to my own scholarship and that of my graduate and undergraduate students.

Our community includes faculty, research scientists and graduate students engaged in fundamental and applied climate research across all units in the College of the Environment and across campus including in the College of Engineering, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Global Health, the Evans School of Public Policy, and beyond. PCC connects climate scientists across these units by hosting quarterly seminars, workshops and discussions, a graduate student led spring symposium, and by organizing and hosting an annual meeting at Friday Harbor Labs on San Juan Island focused on a specific climate topic that changes every year. PCC graduate students plan an annual Graduate Climate Conference, bringing together graduate students working on fundamental and applied aspects of climate change around the country. PCC graduate students are also very active in local outreach, serving as speakers and panel members at local schools and throughout the community, among other things. We offer UW graduate students the opportunity to earn a graduate certificate in climate science that requires interdisciplinary coursework and a project related to communicating climate science. The PCC also hosts a climate minor for all interested UW undergraduates.

Moving forward, we seek to maintain the goal of fostering research and education on fundamental climate science, while actively seeking to strengthen connections with communities working in aspects of applied climate science, human health impacts, and communication. Most importantly, we will continue to nurture the careers of PCC graduate students by building their connections within and outside the UW climate community. These students are some of the most motivated, energetic, and engaged students I have had the opportunity to interact with during my time at the UW and are our future leaders in climate science and communication.

Becky Alexander
Director, Program on Climate Change
Professor in Atmospheric Sciences

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