Ask a Scientist – 2019

The 2019 Climate Science on Tap – Ask a Scientist was a huge success and opportunity for engrossing conversations with diverse experts in many different fields related to climate change and clean energy. There were representatives of many organizations and campaigns there, also, to answer questions about how to get involved and be part of the solution.

Scientist and Experts:

Following are the bios provided by the scientists and other experts who were there answering questions at the Climate Science on Tap: Ask a Scientist!

Dogs concerned about climate change sniffing out some science!

Briana Abrahms is a research ecologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. She studies the effects of environmental change on large vertebrate populations, particularly through the lens of large-scale animal movements in marine and terrestrial environments. Her research has been published in leading scientific journals and has been featured in media outlets such as the BBC and The Atlantic. She has a Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of California Berkeley where she studied the effects of human disturbance on large carnivores in Botswana.

Tom Ackerman is a Professor of Atmospheric Sciences and former Director of the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean at the University of Washington. He has served as the Chief Scientist of DOE’s Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program, the largest ground-based atmospheric measurement program in the world. His research interests focus on the energetics of the climate system and, more recently, on solar climate engineering (the concept of cooling Earth by artificially reflecting additional solar energy).

Dr. Jude Apple is an oceanographer, estuarine ecologist and Director at the at the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. His research interests include ocean acidification, plankton communities, blue carbon, eelgrass, and response of coastal ecosystems to a changing climate – and how to use this information to achieve sustainable management of our valuable coastal resources.

Dr. Jennifer Atkinson is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Washington, Bothell, where she teaches courses on environmental humanities and literature. Her recent seminar on “Eco-Grief & Climate Anxiety,” which explores the emotional toll of climate change and environmental loss, has been featured in the Seattle Times, NBC News, Grist, High Country News, Fox News, and many other publications and podcasts. Dr. Atkinson earned a Ph.D. in English from the University of Chicago.

Lynne Barre is the Southern Resident killer whale recovery coordinator for NOAA Fisheries.  She has worked on the endangered listing of the Southern Residents, designated critical habitat, finalized a Recovery Plan and implemented actions to conserve and recover the whales, including vessel regulations and sitting on the Governor’s Task Force.

Cecilia Bitz is the Director of the Program on Climate Change and a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at UW. Her research focus is on polar climate change and climate prediction. She was a Fulbright Senior Scholar to New Zealand during which time she did field work in Antarctica.

Nick Bond is a principal research scientist with the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean (JISAO) of the University of Washington (UW). He has a Ph.D. in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of Washington. His research focuses on the weather and climate of the Pacific Northwest and the linkages between the climate and marine ecosystems of the North Pacific.  He is the climatologist for the state of Washington, and proud to be a weather geek.

Shallin Busch is an ecologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who focuses on how ocean acidification and climate change may affect marine species and ecosystems. In addition to her research, she is involved as a technical expert in state, regional, national, and international climate-focused policy and management efforts.

Kelly Carpenter is a graduate student in the Chemical Engineering department and has received research funding from the Clean Energy Institute at UW. Her research relates to fuel cells, electrolyzers, wastewater remediation, and clean energy. In addition to sustainable energy storage/production technologies, she’s passionate about riding her bike and sustainable transportation strategies.

John Chandler is the technical lead of water resources for Puget Sound Energy.  He is responsible for managing about 620 billion gallons of water a year for competing objectives like flood control, the environment, power production, and recreation. John’s expertise is in water management, how hydrology is affected by climate change, some energy related issues, stakeholder engagement, and nonstationarity.

Mike Chang is the Climate Adaptation Specialist for the Makah Tribe. He has led the Makah Tribe’s Climate Impacts Assessment and coordinates the climate adaptation and resiliency planning process across tribal departments and the Makah tribal community. Mike also supports the Tribe by participating in various state and regional marine planning groups and is working on a tribal land policy tool for natural resources managers. He is an author for the Northwest chapter of the recent U.S. 4th National Climate Assessment, where he focused on highlighting climate impacts to Tribes and Indigenous peoples, cultural heritage, and frontline communities. He received his Masters from the University of Washington’s School of Marine and Environmental Affairs. His expertise includes tribes, indigenous peoples, climate adaptation, environmental equity and justice.

Dr. James Conca, geochemist and Energy scientist, speaker and author  is Senior Scientist for UFA Ventures, Inc, Adjunct Professor at WSU, Trustee of the Herbert M. Parker Foundation, an Affiliate Scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory and a Science Contributor to Forbes. His expertise is in sustainable energy mixes, nuclear, and material sciences.

Curtis DeGasperi is a hydrologist in the Science and Data Management Section of King County’s Water and Land Resources Division. Curtis has been interested in the subject of climate change since he saw a presentation by the U.S. Navy in his 5th grade elementary school class nearly 50 years ago.

Roger Fuller coordinates the natural resource restoration and stewardship program at Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, and is a member of the Skagit Climate Science Consortium. He studies how climate change affects organisms, ecosystems, and humans, and uses this knowledge to improve natural resource management strategies.

Diana Gergel is completing her Ph.D. this fall in the Computational Hydrology group at the University of Washington and has been an active participant in the UW Program on Climate Change. Her dissertation research has focused on the roles of snow and permafrost in the Arctic climate system. She is also active in science communication, serving as the first graduate communications fellow for the former Northwest Climate Science Center and as a Polar Science fellow at the Pacific Science Center. Her expertise is in high-latitude climate change, and climate modeling

Dr. Todd Hass is Special Assistant to the Director at the Puget Sound Partnership and an Affiliate Assistant Professor in the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs at the UW. As an ecologist and a seafarer, his interests in climate science intersect the marine and maritime realms, including: the influence of changing hurricane patterns on seabirds; sea level rise and the effects of coastal squeeze on habitats and people; and the reduction of greenhouse gases and noise emissions from shipping.

Jeremy Hess is the director of the UW Center for Health and the Global Environment (CHanGE). He’s an associate professor in the departments of Emergency Medicine, Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, and Global Health, and practices emergency medicine at Harborview. He is a lead author on the health, wellbeing, and migration chapter of the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report.

Kirstin Holsman is a Fisheries Research Biologist at NOAA Fisheries. Kirstin’s research focuses on quantitative methods for ecosystem-based fisheries management in our changing oceans. She is co-lead on a multidisciplinary collaboration to project climate change impacts on Bering Sea fish and fishing communities and evaluate the performance of alternative management strategies under future climate scenarios.

Iris Kemp is the Science Project Manager for Long Live the Kings, a Seattle-based nonprofit that works to restore wild salmon and steelhead populations and to support sustainable fishing. Iris coordinates projects that study factors impacting the growth, behavior, and survival of juvenile salmon and steelhead in the Salish Sea.

Meade Krosby is a Senior Scientist with the UW Climate Impacts Group, and the University Deputy Director of the Northwest Climate Adaptation Science Center. Dr. Krosby works closely with natural resources managers from tribal, state, and federal governments to understand how climate change will affect species and ecosystems, and what we can do to reduce climate risks and enhance resilience. Her expertise includes conservation biology and climate adaptation.

Karen Litfin has taught international environmental politics and law at the University of Washington since 1991. Her books include Ozone DiscoursesThe Greening of Sovereignty, and Ecovillages: Lessons for Sustainable CommunityHer current focus is facilitating contemplative experiences that can nurture innovative social and political action.

Jan Newton is a Senior Principal Oceanographer with the Applied Physics Laboratory of the University of Washington, and an affiliate Professor in both the UW School of Oceanography and the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs. Jan serves as co-director of the Washington Ocean Acidification Center, which operates from the College of the Environment and EarthLab, and fosters connections among researchers, policymakers, industry, and others to address key priorities established by the state legislature concerning ocean acidification. She also is the executive director of the Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems (NANOOS), which is part of a broader program of Integrated Ocean Observing Systems throughout the United States. Jan’s expertise is in biological oceanography, and her work focuses on the physical, chemical, and biological dynamics of Puget Sound and coastal Washington, including understanding effects from climate and humans on water properties. She is applying that research on local scales to a global network, the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON), which she co-chairs.

Nora Nickum is the Ocean Policy Manager at the Seattle Aquarium. She has worked on climate resilience in the Pacific Northwest and around the world for the last ten years, and served on the US delegation to the UN Framework on Climate Change negotiations. Her expertise is in climate resilience planning, orca recovery, and ocean conservation policy.

Andre Perkins recently received his Ph.D. from the Dept. of Atmospheric Sciences at UW for his thesis on estimating climate over the last 1000 years. During his time there, he was actively involved in the outreach community, discussing everything from severe weather to geoengineering. 

Darren Pilcher is a research scientist with the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean at the University of Washington and NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory.  His expertise is in ocean acidification and computational modeling.

Heather Price did her post doctoral research with the Program on Climate Change at UW, and is faculty in Chemistry at North Seattle College. Heather attended the international climate negotiations (COP6) in The Hague, has taught climate science courses, camps, and workshops at UW, and gives regular public talks on climate science and climate justice for k-12 classes, faith groups, and the public. Her expertise includes atmospheric chemistry, air pollution, and tropospheric ozone.

Sarah Ragen is a PhD student in Physical Oceanography at the University of Washington. Her research is primarily focused on the role the ocean circulation plays in modulating the Earth’s climate and its changes. She uses idealized climate model simulations to determine the fundamental physics that drive the ocean circulation. She is a member of the UW Program on Climate Change Graduate Student Steering Committee where she works on climate outreach to the community. Her favorite planet (besides Earth) is Jupiter.

Katy Ricchiuto is a Program Manager with EcoDistricts, where she manages the organization’s sustainable urban development programs. She has a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Washington Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, with a specialization in Environmental Policy. Her areas of expertise include energy policy, recycling policy, sustainable urban development, and Washington State development regulations.

Greg Rock is an entrepreneur and climate activist. He is the board policy chair for Carbon Washington, has a master’s degree in Sustainable Energy Engineering, is an Audubon Board Member, and has served as Carbon Washington’s volunteer lobbyist in Olympia for the last four legislative sessions.

Dr. Heidi A. Roop is the Lead Scientist for Science Communication at the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group and an Affiliate Assistant Professor in the UW Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences. Heidi combines climate science research and the science of science communication to connect climate information to decision-makers and communities across the Pacific Northwest, U.S., and abroad. Heidi has spent over a decade studying ice, mud and mountains. She now focuses primarily on ‘moving mountains’ to achieve climate resilience.

Mark Scheuerell is the Assistant Unit Leader for the USGS Washington Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and an Associate Professor in the UW School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. Mark’s research supports the conservation and management of aquatic resources throughout the Pacific Northwest. His expertise is in pacific salmon, statistics and data analysis.

Nathan Stacey is a postdoctoral research associate with WSU’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources (CSANR).  He deals with organically derived soil amendments and how their use impacts the biological, chemical and physical properties of agricultural soils.

Kristi Straus is a Lecturer and the Associate Director at the UW Program on the Environment where she teaches a course about sustainability and personal choices, inviting students to examine all aspects of their lives including garbage, commute, diet, and screen time. She is celebrated for this work with a Husky Green Award and the UW Distinguished Teaching Award. Expertise: personal choices and sustainability (TedX talkcourse video). 

Abigail Swann is an Associate Professor jointly appointed in Atmospheric Sciences and Biology at the University of Washington. Her research is focused on the role that plants play in Earth’s climate. She studies both the physical climate system and the underlying biological processes that govern ecosystems and characterize their response to environmental variability and change.

Jim Thomson is a Senior Principal Oceanographer at the University of Washington’s Applied Physics Lab and a Professor in the Dept. of Civil & Environmental Engineering. Dr. Thomson studies waves and turbulence at the surface of the ocean, including interactions with sea ice.  His work emphasizes field measurements and physical processes and includes the development of instrumentation and autonomous platforms.

Ray Timm has been working on restoring river ecosystems and recovery of ESA-listed salmonid fishes for more than 25 years. He has been an academic researcher, government scientist, and consultant. Salmonids provide important evidence that climatic shifts affect habitat timing, extent, and hydraulic and thermal characteristics. In some cases, climate change has immediate and direct bearing on the persistence (or not) of populations by impinging on their ability to use historic habitats and ranges.

Dr. Nick Touran is a nuclear reactor design engineer. Driven by climate change concerns, he specializes in reactor physics, and is the Deputy Manager of Nuclear Design at TerraPower, a local reactor firm. He independently operates the public education website,, and authored an intermediate-level computer book called Digital Superpowers.

Yaamini R. Venkataraman is a 4th year Ph.D student in the UW School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. She studies how oysters are affected by changing environments, and if parent oysters can pass down a “stress memory” to their young.

Colin Wahl is an Environmental Scientist at the Tulalip Tribes’ Treaty Rights office. He serves as a technical representative for the tribes, utilizing climate and conservation science as well as treaty rights to further salmon conservation and recovery.

Sean M. Watts has spent his career seeking environmental solutions that yield the greatest human and ecological benefits. He is currently the owner of SM Watts Consulting, LLC – a consulting firm that helps public, private and nonprofit organizations move from awareness to action to create an equitable and inclusive environmental movement. His expertise is in plant ecology, plant-animal interactions, equity in the environment, and environmental justice.

Jim Winton is a Senior Scientist, Emeritus at the USGS Western Fisheries Research Center and works with a team conducting research on diseases of fish. He is also an Affiliate Professor at the University of Washington School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences and an author of over 200 scientific publications.

Aaron Wirsing is an Associate Professor of Wildlife Science in the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences. Aaron and his students explore how predators shape their environments by interacting with one another and their prey, and solutions to the challenges of carnivore conservation in a changing world. His expertise includes behavioral ecology and predator-prey interactions.

Joe Zagrodnik is a postdoctoral researcher for the Washington State University Agricultural Weather Network. He received his Ph.D in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of Washington in March 2019 for a study on the orographic modification of precipitation in the Olympic Mountains. He was the captain of the 2018-19 national champion UW collegiate weather forecasting team. He also specializes in Pacific Northwest climatology and extreme events.

Tickets to this event are available free or with a donation to support the ongoing climate outreach of Cascadia Climate Action, particularly the Climate Science on Tap series. Thanks for your support for this important work!

Thanks to our community sponsors!