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Center News

South Central CASC Student Acting Assistant Regional Administrator receives USGS STAR award.

May 3, 2024

Acting Assistant Regional Administrator Marina Tomer is recieving a USGS Special Thanks for Achieving Results (START) Award for her amazing work in 2022 and 2023 to support the National and Regional CASCs in developing and implementing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) and Environmental Justice (EJ) efforts. Marina has worked dilligently as a DEIA working group participant, Environmental Justice Lead on the USGS EJ Council, and as a participant in the White House and Department of Interior DEIA/EJ councils.

As the award state, “The CASC network has become a leader in diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) efforts within USGS thanks to the dedication and creativity of many staff. Your efforts have helped to make the CASC network an excellent place to work and a leader in DEIA within USGS and beyond, having a significant positive impact on the DOIs mission to build a workforce that represents the treasures of this Nation – its people.”

Congratulations Marina!

South Central CASC Student Research Assistant NOAA Named Hollings Scholar

May 1, 2024

An image of Liam Thompson with wind-whipped hair and stormy skies in the background

Liam Thompson, student research assistant, was recently awarded the 2024 NOAA Hollings Scholarship. Liam tells us while the project sites are not out yet “I am definitely going to be on the lookout for a project that allows me to get experience with general/urban climate modeling (e.g. understanding how pollution and aerosols impact our atmospheric circulations / atmospheric radiation budget), understanding the El Nino Southern Oscillation, or something somewhere in between. I am excited to see what I do and where I go with this scholarship.”

Congratulations Liam!

South Central CASC Annual Student Scholarship Award winners

April 29, 2024

Congratulations to the 2024 recipients of our two center scholarships!

Our DGES Scholarship recipients are:
Haylee Kraker – Senior studying Environmental Sustainability
Abby Williams – Junior
Alison Holderbaum – Sophomore in Geographic Information Science and Information Science & Technology
Lucy Brodt – Freshman in Environmental Sustainability and Dietetics

Our International Scholarship recipients are:
Nour Bou Alwan – Chemical Engineering major with a focus in sustainability and will be studying in Paris, France
Courtney Ames – Junior in Meteorology attending Reading, England in the Fall 2024 semester
Makenzie Flynn

South Central CASC University Director awarded Regents’ Award

April 10, 2024

Center University Director Dr. Renee McPherson was selected for the 2024 Regents’ Award for Superior Professional and University Service. She was honored during the 2024 University of Oklahoma Faculty Awards and Honors presentation. You can see the announcement and all other award winners here. Congratulations!

2023 Webinars on Climate Modeling and Extreme Disturbances now available

November 17, 2023

The South Central CASC hosted two webinars in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service Region 8 and the Southeast CASC to provide land managers from Tribes, Federal agencies, and State agencies with relevant information about Climate Modeling (Spring 2023) and Extreme Disturbances (Fall 2023). These webinars continue to build upon the partnership with the U.S. Forest Service that was first established in 2021. Through this partnership, the South Central and Southeast CASCs are building the capacity of decision-makers to manage natural and cultural resources in light of a changing climate.

South Central CASC University Director co-authors Fifth U.S. National Climate Assessment

November 15, 2023

The White House released the Fifth U.S. National Climate Assessment on Tuesday to inform the public and decision-makers across the nation about the status of climate change, its current impacts, and its future risks in the U.S. In addition, the report describes mitigation and adaptation responses that are occurring, as well as new opportunities for economic growth and community resilience.

Renee McPherson, Ph.D., served as the lead author for the Southern Great Plains chapter, which focused on Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. McPherson is an associate professor in the University of Oklahoma’s Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability and the university director of the South Central Climate Adaptation Science Center.

There will be an opportunity to hear from Dr. McPherson about the Southern Great Plains chapter (26) on December 6, 2023, from 2 to 3 pm central. NCA5 Webinar: Southern Great Plains

“For people in the Southern Great Plains, climate change is affecting how we live, work, and play,” McPherson said. “We can choose to respond in ways that make our communities healthier, more just, and more resilient.”

Renee McPherson, Ph.D., lead author for the Southern Great Plains chapter of the Fifth National Climate Assessment

See below for additional press related to this event.

OU Experts Co-author Fifth U.S. National Climate Assessment (University of Oklahoma) (Enid News & Eagle) (The Norman Transcript)
What the new National Climate Assessment says is in store for Oklahoma (KGOU)

South Central CASC Researcher Presented with Award for Service

September 22, 2023

Dr. Adrienne Wootten, a Research Scientist at the South Central CASC, was presented with an Award of Appreciation for Service in recognition of her work developing climate projections for the Edwards Aquifer Authority and her presentations at the 2023 EDTalks Seminar Series. This series was jointly hosted by the Edwards Aquifer Authority and the Southwest Research Institute.

The EDTalks 2023 can be viewed here. Dr. Wootten is featured in the first two talks, along with our Regional Administrator Dr. Suzanne VanCooten in the first talk.

South Central CASC Welcomes new Regional Administrator!

August 14, 2023

Announcing Suzanne Van Cooten as the new Regional Administrator of the South Central CASC

The USGS Climate Adaptation Science Centers are thrilled to announce that Dr. Suzanne Van Cooten will be the new Regional Administrator of the South Central Climate Adaptation Science Center. In this position (formerly known as “Director”), Suzanne is looking forward to working with Tribal Nations and climate experts in the four-state region to make climate adaptation science accessible to all.

Prior to accepting the Regional Administrator position in the South Central Climate Adaptation Science Center, Suzanne Van Cooten, Ph.D., led the National Weather Service (NWS) efforts to increase NWS recruitment, retention, and respectful engagement with tribal communities as the leader of the Advancing Sustained Collaboration & Engagement with Native Tribes (ASCENT) program within the NWS Office of Organizational Excellence. Suzanne has more than 32 years of service in the NWS, NOAA, and academia. She has served as the Hydrologist In Charge of the National Weather Service (NWS) Lower Mississippi Forecast Center (LMRFC) in Slidell, LA that received the Department of Commerce’s highest honors for decision support services in numerous flood and hurricane events. Prior to LMRFC, she served as Deputy Chief of the Warning Research Development Division (WRDD) at NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) before accepting an interim IPA assignment to become the University of Oklahoma’s (OU) National Sea Grant Weather and Climate Extension Specialist. She has also served as the Chief Scientist of the NWS National Data Buoy Center, an operational NWS weather forecaster in Fort Worth and New Orleans, a Hydrometeorological Analysis and Support (HAS) forecaster and hydrologist at LMRFC, and regional and national program manager for NWS observing systems.  

A citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, Suzanne continues to support efforts to diversify our nation’s STEAM workforce. She has authored peer-reviewed publications and podcasts on this subject and her research findings. Throughout her career, Suzanne has served as a research mentor to NOAA Hollings scholars, NWS Pathways students, and student volunteers at NDBC, NSSL, and LMRFC in addition to serving on M.S. and Ph.D. committees for minority students. She earned a B.S. in Meteorology from OU and M.S. and Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of New Orleans. Learn more about Suzanne here.

South Central CASC a part of University of Oklahoma Researchers Studying Extreme Heat

August 2, 2023

Researchers from the University of Oklahoma, in collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, are identifying areas that experience the most extreme heat in Oklahoma City as part of NOAA’s 2023 Urban Heat Island mapping campaign. You can read more about the South Central CASC’s involvement in this campaign along with other research partners in this article.

South Central CASC partner EcoRise posts 2022-2023 Oklahoma Impact Report

July 19, 2023

EcoRise posted their Oklahoma Impact Report for the 2022-2023 school year and it highlights the partnership with our center and the impact that pairing has had on students, teachers, and the environment in Oklahoma. We love this partnership! Read the report here.

South Central CASC featured on Podcast

April 27, 2023

University Assistant Director Emma Kuster was featured on The Climate Conversation podcast, along with University Director for the Midwest CASC Jessica Hellman. They discussed Elevating Climate Adaptation Research Through Collaboration highlighting the work that is being done across the CASC network. Give it a listen!

2023 South Central CASC Scholarship Recipients

April 20, 2023

The South Central CASC is proud to announce the 2023 recipients of our scholarships. Six total scholarships were able to be awarded this year thanks to generous support.

South Central Climate Adaptation Science Center International Studies Scholarship

Our first scholarship is the International Studies Scholarship, which is awarded to a student in any field of study enrolled in a University approved Study Abroad program at The University of Oklahoma. We can’t wait to learn more about your adventures abroad.

Emory Otto is an environmental activist that seeks to explore the interconnectedness between human beings and the natural environment. Born and raised in McKinney, TX, she will be finishing up her last semester overseas at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand and will be receiving her degree in Social Transformation in the Arts combining Environmental Sustainability and Theatre from the University of Oklahoma. While in New Zealand, she will be completing research focused on the impacts of climate change on indigenous groups both physically and culturally. She believes food sovereignty, outdoor recreation, and spiritual wellness should be a right and not a privilege and looks towards a future in holistic sustainability. Outside of school, she is involved in outdoor sports, multi-media art, and theatre, and is a trained caregiver specializing in working with children with special needs. 

Liam Thompson is a Freshman at the University of Oklahoma’s School of Meteorology pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science in Meteorology and a Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Sustainability with a minor in mathematics. He is originally from Alaska and is loving his time in Norman, Oklahoma. His personal long term career goals are still variable, but he is passionate about math and science education, data analysis, and anything to do with research. Some interested research topics include changes in the ecosystem in a post-tornado/hurricane landscape, the global effects of ENSO cycles on the spread of diseases and disruptions to animal migratory patterns, and the most efficient ways communicate meteorology to the general public, government, and business entities. 

South Central Climate Adaptation Science Center Scholarship

Our scholarship is for undergraduate students within the Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability at The University of Oklahoma.

Julia Manipella is a senior from Tulsa, Oklahoma studying Environmental Sustainability, Creative Media Production, and International Studies. In the future, she plans to work in international environmental investigative journalism and documentary film. She hopes to pursue a career covering environmental issues in her community and around the world.

Suraya Yamada-Sapien is a third-year double major in Environmental Sustainability and Women’s and Gender Studies. 

Rachel Koch is a senior majoring in Environmental Sustainability and minoring in Political Science and a Student Office Assistant at the South Central CASC. She has experience in researching community resilience, conducting greenhouse gas inventories, and analyzing the human and community impacts of climate change. Rachel has a professional, academic, and personal passion for sustainability and is delighted to receive this scholarship from DGES and the South Central CASC to put towards her studies!

Hello, I’m Carolina Hernandez. I am a junior at the University of Oklahoma, where I am majoring in Geographic Information Science. As part of my studies, I am minoring in Climate Adaptation. As someone who enjoys learning about the world around us and solving problems using technology as well as computer skills, when I discovered that there is a career for this and that one of them involves creating maps digitally, I became very interested in GIS and want to pursue a career in it. The subject of weather and climate also interests me, as well as severe natural disasters. My favorite hobby is running in the early hours of the morning. Additionally, I enjoy playing wonderful music on my clarinet. The scholarship I have been awarded will help me achieve my personal and professional goals in my pursuit of GIS and future career goals. 

My name is Braelon Palmer. As of now, I am a freshman at The University of Oklahoma. Studying environmental sustainability. In my free time, I like to serve the community and hang out with friends. My goal is to ultimately educate people on creative, new, sustainable methods to adapt to climate change.

Estefania Velazquez is a first-generation college student getting a bachelor’s in Environmental Sustainability with a minor in Geographic information systems.

CASC Intern Wins Fulbright Scholarship

April 14, 2023

Taylor Broadbent has been at the South Central CASC for the past couple of years. Now as a senior, she is ready to graduate and continue her education into the future. Recently she applied for and was awarded the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship. Thanks to her time with the CASC, the type of research she will be focused on has changed.

My Fulbright Scholarship is to Australia, where I will be attending the University of Melbourne pursuing my Master’s in Public Policy with an emphasis on Global Indigenous Studies. My research will be on writing Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge into policy. I credit the South Central Climate Adaptation Sciences Center for introducing me to ITEK and really Climate Science in general. I am very thankful to the full staff, particularly April and Renee, for mentoring, teaching, and encouraging me to think about how my background in policy could impact indigenous communities and the well-being of our planet. 

Taylor Broadbent, Cherokee Nation, and Fulbright Scholarship recipient.

Grasslands and Climate Training Series

February 17, 2023

North American grasslands are a regional priority for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). In 2022 the South Central Climate Adaptation Science Center (CASC), in partnership with the US FWS Science Applications Program, the Northwest CASC, the North Central CASC, and the Midwest CASC implemented a training series for grasslands conservations practitioners. This included a series of webinars from May through August 2022 and culminated with an in-person Grasslands-Climate Workshop on January 24-25, 2023 in Lakewood, CO.

The training series provided participants with the appropriate knowledge and experience on how to make informed management decisions related to climate change. The in-person workshop included an interactive activity developed by experts from the CASC network, US FWS, the National Park Service (NPS), and the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science (NIACS) to walk participants through the climate adaptation planning process and introduce them to new tools and ways of thinking about the challenges they face.

Emma Kuster, Assistant University Director at the South Central CASC, said that she “hopes that we can expand this effort in the future and make it relevant for managers of other types of ecosystems beyond grasslands”. Feedback from US FWS members has been positive. You can read more from them in this US FWS story.

The in-person workshop materials along with the webinar series recordings can be found here.

January 17, 2023

Climate Change and Wetlands in the Southern Great Plains: How Are Managers Dealing with an Uncertain Future?

South Central CASC-funded researchers asked wetland managers about their perceptions regarding climate change and its impact(s) on areas they manage. In the journal article, the team highlights that there is currently little guidance available to assist wetland managers in developing climate adaptation plans. While there is interest in considering climate adaptation plans, especially regarding variability in precipitation, current constraints limit the current practices for short-term measures and may not reflect long-term adaptation for climate change. However, with additional funding and personnel, these managers noted that they would have a greater capacity to increase the use of multiple adaptation strategies.

In the article, the authors write: “While developing a “one-size-fits-all” adaptation plan for climate change in the Southern Great Plains is not likely to be feasible, our intention is that by highlighting approaches already used by managers to address changing precipitation patterns and to describe the barriers they face, this work can generate greater discussion on how best to move forward to address the effects of climate change on wetlands and facilitate increased collaborations amount individuals and institutions to address these challenges in the future.”

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