Vol. XI, No. 5 www.publicaffairs.noaa.gov/nr May 2002
NOAA Leads Study Mahoney and Keeney Join
Airborne Pollution NOAA’s Leadership Team
—By Barbara McGehan —By Dane Konop
M.I.T., is perhaps best known in
A s NOAA’s WD-P3 aircraft sat
on the tarmack at the Mon-
terey, Calif., Airport on April 25, a
T wo men with longstanding
connections to NOAA and
complementary backgrounds have
NOAA circles as one of the found-
ing partners of Environmental
Research and Technology, Inc., and
large contingent of scientists was joined the NOAA leadership team. as the former director of the
examining their scientific instru- James R. Mahoney was sworn in National Acid Precipitation Pro-
ments and computers, making sure as assistant secretary of commerce gram.
all systems were ready to go for the for oceans and atmosphere by He also has extensive experience
first science flight of the Interconti- Secretary of Commerce Don Evans in the international arena as a
nental Transport and Chemical April 2. meteorological and environmental
Transformation Project. Timothy R. E. Keeney was consultant to a number of foreign
The project is an international sworn in as deputy assistant governments.
research program aimed at finding secretary of commerce in the White Keeney, who earned an under-
out how the movement of airborne House liaison office April 8. graduate degree in economics from
chemicals from one continent Mahoney, who holds a B.S. in the Wharton School of Business
influences the regional and global physics from LeMoyne College and and a law degree from the Univer-
climate in other continents. a Ph.D. in meteorology from continued on page 2
While the P-3 aircraft usually
flies into hurricanes or storms, this
time the flying laboratory was
poised to fly along the U.S. west
coast measuring a variety of chemi-
cals, dust and pollutants that
mostly blow in across the Pacific.
“We have twenty sets of instru-
ments on board and hanging from
the wings,” said flight scientist
According to Hübler, most of
the instruments are connected with
a computer network that he can
monitor and use to direct the flight
of the plane into layers of air that
might prove interesting. “Every 15
or 20 minutes, I walk through and
check on the instruments that don’t
have operators to make sure they
are working,” he said. Dane Konop/NOAA
Since aerosol particles and other James R. Mahoney (left) is the new assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and
continued on page 2 atmosphere. Timothy R.E. Keeney is the new deputy assistant secretary of commerce.
2 NOAA Report / May 2002
New Leadeship problem of global climate change.
“It would be a failure if we put Airborne Pollution
continued from page 1 the scientific community in one continued from page 1
sity of Connecticut, most recently room and the policy community in pollutants constantly stream
was director of environmental the other room and just pass an around the globe, dust storms such
services for Northeast Utilities occasional piece of paper back and as ones recently observed in Asia
Service Company in Hartford, forth between them. The challenge can provide very visible evidence of
Conn. for the climate work that NOAA the atmosphere’s connectedness.
He is well known to many at and Commerce have taken the lead The researchers, representing a
NOAA as a deputy general counsel, on in the research area is to keep broad range of government and
general counsel and director of the the science very much on the university organizations from the
Office of Ocean and Coastal science, to ask the scientific com- U.S. and other countries, are taking
Resource Management at NOAA in munity to help frame the issues measurements from the ground and
the 1980s and early 1990s. and frame the questions so that the from aircraft to get a better idea of
His extensive experience working government policy community will the pollution’s effects on climate
with state and local government understand, can use the informa- and air quality.
includes stints as the head of tion. It’s as simple as that,” he said. “We’ve designed a major interna-
environmental programs for the He is well familiar with the “real tional research program to investi-
states of Connecticut and Rhode world” of science. gate how the atmosphere changes
Island. Mahoney started his professional and is moved from continent to
In interviews in their offices in career at Harvard University, where continent around the globe,
in the H.C. Hoover Building in he was on the faculty of public because these processes have many
Washington, D.C., in mid April, health. While still at Harvard, in ways of influencing Earth’s cli-
Mahoney and Keeney talked about 1968 he and two other colleagues mate,” said Fred Fehsenfeld from
their professional backgrounds and started Environmental Research NOAA’s Aeronomy Laboratory in
their plans as the newest members and Technology. By the end of the Boulder, Colo.
of the NOAA leadership team. 1970s, it had grown to become the Scientists have increasing evi-
Mahoney’s office is in the pres- nation’s largest environmental dence that even short-lived sub-
tigious southwest corner of the consulting firm and Mahoney’s full stances such as ozone and fine
H.C. Hoover Building overlooking time job. continued on page 7
the Washington Monument. His The company helped its indus-
desk is busy with paperwork, but trial clients “with permitting terms
the book cases sit mostly empty. and conditions,” Mahoney said.
Except for photographs of Presi- “We did special environmental
dent Bush, Vice President Cheney impact studies way back when the
and Secretary Evans, the walls are concept of environmental impact
sparsely decorated. One gets the studies was new.”
sense the work is more important In addition to individual compa-
to him than the trappings of office. nies, Environmental Research and
Mahoney said the gist of his Technology also worked with
professional experience has been a industry groups and began devel-
mix of public health and the oping an international clientele,
environment. Mahoney said. Generally, he
He’s also been on both sides of helped foreign governments estab-
the regulatory fence, having had a lish their own environmental and
hand in developing environmental meteorological programs.
regulations and in advising busi- He said he now has over a
nesses on how best to comply with million unused frequent flier miles.
regulations. “I left Harvard in 1974 because
Mahoney said it’s important for my private business with my Theresa Miller of NOAA’s Pacific Marine
those involved with environmental partners had grown so big. I was Environmental Laboratory adjusts an
policy to have sound scientific walking down two roads, and I had instrument in one of two hilltop trailers that
information to guide their deci- to pick one,” Mahoney said. He measures the water soluble inorganic
sions, particularly in tackling the continued on page 6 component of aerosols in the atmosphere.
May 2002 / NOAA Report 3
troops in 1975 and the country fell
under Communist rule, Nguyen
was a student at the University of
Science in Saigon. Before the fall of
Saigon, Nguyen’s aunt, who had
close ties to the Americans, and his
brother-in-law, who was in the
South Vietnamese navy, immi-
grated to the U.S.
After receiving his degree in
geophysics, Nguyen faced a diffi-
cult decision. He was about to be
drafted into the army.
Nguyen was his family’s only
son, as his brother, a sailor in the
South Vietnamese navy, had been
killed by the Communists.
At the time, Vietnam was poised
Brenda Peeples/NOAA to invade Cambodia. Nguyen Tony Baltz/Northrop Grumman
Sinh Nguyen. recalled his father said, “If you go Bruno Vercillo.
into the army to protect the
Sinh Nguyen Is the country, you do that. But if you
join the army to invade some other Bruno Vercillo Is the
Employee of the country, you should not do that.”
The family determined to Team Member of
Month for May smuggle Nguyen out of the coun-
try by boat to join his aunt in New the Month for May
—By Dane Konop Jersey. It was a desperate decision —By Susan Weaver
I n many ways, Sinh Nguyen, the
May Employee of the Month,
embodies the American dream.
for the 26-year-old Nguyen, made
even more difficult because he was
leaving behind a wife and young
B runo Vercillo’s responsibility as
a program support manager for
Northrop Grumman Information
A little over 20 years ago, he was son. “I had to look for freedom at Technology, providing innovative
smuggled out of Vietnam with that time,” he said. solutions for the Advanced Weather
other refugee “boat people” op- “It was too dangerous for them Interactive Processing System for
posed to the Communist regime, to escape like me. They had to stay nearly nine years, makes him one of
forced to leave his wife and young with my parents,” Nguyen said. “I the key players in weather forecast-
son behind. escaped as (one of the) boat ing.
Today, he’s a big success— people.” AWIPS is one of the cornerstones
happily married, living with his After he and his fellow refugees of the Weather Service’s $4.5-
wife, Nhung, in a nice neighbor- were rescued at sea, Nguyen was billion, ten-year modernization
hood in Silver Spring, Md., with a reunited with his aunt. program. It gives forecasters access
young son, Thien, at home and his Nguyen learned English, went to satellite imagery, Doppler radar
older son, Long, an honors student back to college and kept up a data, automated weather observa-
at the University of Maryland. constant campaign to rescue his tions and computer-generated
Nguyen is very good at his job as wife and son. numerical forecasts, all at one
a computer specialist, respected “When I was in school, I sub- workstation, providing significant
and well liked by both his co- mitted the paperwork to sponsor improvements in weather- and
workers and NOAA clients. them. It took ten years to be flood-related services.
His optimism and people skills reunited. I left my son at the time For National Weather Service
were tempered in past adversities. he was 11 months. By the time he forecasters, scientists and system
Nguyen grew up in South came to America, he was 12 years analysts at 159 sites across the U.S.
Vietnam during what Americans old,” Nguyen said. and its territories, Vercillo’s job is
call the “Vietnamese War.” When In the years he has been in the an essential one, so essential that he
the U.S. pulled out the last of its continued on page 8 continued on page 7
4 NOAA Report / May 2002
Dark-Water Diving for Oysters
—By Lauren Batte
ivers weren’t expecting to
find a bounty of oysters
during a community-based
oyster reef survey dive in the
Magothy River near Annapolis,
Md., April 20. Only four to six
dozen oysters were counted in
The survey nonetheless proved
successful as a chance for NOAA
volunteers and midshipmen from
the nearby U.S. Naval Academy to
hone their dark-water diving skills
while contributing to the baseline
knowledge of oysters living in the
Magothy River, a tributary of
The dive, an Earth Day event,
was planned by the Magothy River
Robert Hendry/Anne Arundel Community College Association, a volunteer environ-
Steven Gittings (second from left), national science coordinator for the National Marine
mental organization, with technical
Sanctuary Program, explains dive logistics to volunteers.
assistance from NOAA’s National
Marine Sanctuary Program.
Organizers from NOAA and the
association explained critical details
about the dive objectives, safety
procedures and ecological impor-
tance of the dive before everyone
boarded the boats to travel to the
Oysters are important to the
health of the Magothy and Chesa-
peake Bay because they filter the
water and provide habitat. Know-
ing how many are there gives an
indication of the bay’s health.
The Magothy River was desig-
nated an oyster sanctuary by the
Maryland Department of Natural
Resources in October 2001, which
banned oyster harvesting for five
Robert Hendry/Anne Arundel Community College years. The information collected
Dan Basta (left), director of the National Marine Sanctuary Program, and midshipman Jeffrey during the survey dive helps the
Lee check their gear before boarding the dive boat. continued on page 5
May 2002 / NOAA Report 5
continued from page 4
Magothy River Association and
Maryland judge the success of
restoration efforts there.
Four NOAA volunteers, 13
members of the Naval Academy
oceanography club and one Naval
Academy professor donned scuba
gear, then took a giant stride
overboard into the Magothy’s
murky, brown water.
To collect the data, the divers
submerged and navigated along
predetermined 300-foot transect
lines across the monitoring site.
They counted live oysters and Robert Hendry/Anne Arundel Community College
recorded the bottom type. A diver re-boards a boat owned by Magothy River Association volunteer Dick Carey after
“It was sort of dark and I surveying one of eight transects at the dive site.
couldn’t see, but I found [an
oyster],” said one middie. then be available to volunteer on an Program, who participated as a dive
The visibility underwater was as needed basis. Since the dives supervisor.
approximately two feet, forcing the began four years ago, over 30 “It’s the experts working with
divers to use their sense of touch. people have been trained. the citizens on a volunteer basis to
“When you first go down you can’t “NOAA personnel have unique protect local natural resources that
see anything. But after a minute, skills that are not found in the makes it worth it,” said Mitchell
your eyes adjust,” said another. public at large, thereby making the Tartt, a certified working NOAA
The dive was part of an ongoing public efforts more valuable and diver who was responsible for
effort led by NOAA staff to train useful,” said Dan Basta, director of designing and overseeing the field
divers to sample oysters who can the National Marine Sanctuaries operations for the event.
Robert Hendry/Anne Arundel Community College Robert Hendry/Anne Arundel Community Col.
A diver enters the Magothy River after Mitchell Tartt (left), a contracting marine ecologist Midshipman Courtney Hurdt displays a
with the National Marine Sanctuary Program, confirms the diver has all of the proper gear. Magothy River oyster he collected.
6 NOAA Report / May 2002
continued from page 2
and his partners spent another
decade growing the company,
before selling it to ComSat.
During the first term of the
Reagan administration in 1981,
Mahoney was offered an advisory
position on the board of the
National Acid Precipitation Pro-
Mahoney later became its
director, shepherding the program
through the completion of its 10-
year legislative mandate to assess
the causes and effects of acid rain.
In 1984, Mahoney went to the
Bechtel Corporation in San Fran-
cisco for a few years as director of
Bechtel’s environmental group.
Maloney’s international expertise Hilary O'Shea/USMMA
has already been put to work at The 102nd NOAA Corps Basic Officer Training Class graduated May 8 at the U.S. Merchant
NOAA. Marine Academy at Kings Point, N.Y. Front row (left to right): Ensigns Alison Melicharek,
One of his first assignments was Jessica Daum, Nicole Rouse, Amanda Francisco, Katherine Peet, Amanda Bittinger and
a trip to China the last week of Jessica Futch. Back row: Ensigns Eric Johnson, Jasper Schaer, Michael Levine, Jeffrey
April as a member of an eight- Shoup, Earl Spencer, Hector Casanova and Bryan Wagonseller.
member scientific oversight com-
mittee headed by presidential Because it was the last moon merce Committee, of which
science advisor John Marburger. mission, a contingent of news Weicker was a ranking member.
The group explored broad areas of media and V.I.P.s, including Sen. “After I graduated from law
cooperation, with a “renewed Weicker, was onboard the recovery school, I had an opportunity to
emphasis on energy and natural ship. To each V.I.P. the ship’s either work for a federal judge in
resources, ecosystems and environ- commanding officer assigned an Louisiana or go to work for Lowell
ment,” Mahoney said. officer and enlisted man to serve as Weicker in Washington,” Keeney
Keeney, his deputy, worked for a escorts. Because he was a Connecti- said. “I’d have had a whole differ-
string of NOAA administrators— cut native, Keeney drew Weicker. ent career if I’d gone down there. I
John Byrne, Anthony Calio, John Keeney was one of the divers chose Washington, D.C., and am
Knauss and William Evans—before who plucked the astronauts out of thankful I did.”
being recruited by Connecticut the sea when their space capsule He worked a number of NOAA-
governor Lowell Weicker to be splashed down in the Pacific Ocean related issues, including the
commissioner of the state’s depart- upon their return to Earth from Marine Mammal Protection Act
ment of environmental protection the moon. and some international work on the
in January 1991. After ending his active duty as new concept of “sensitive sea areas.”
It was a homecoming of sorts for the officer in charge of the Skylab The period was “very rewarding for
Keeney, a Connecticut native, as recovery team in June 1973, me,” Keeney said.
well as a reunion with Weicker, a Keeney headed home to law school Keeney left the Hill for a NOAA
former boss. Keeney’s connection at the University of Connecticut. job during the first term of the
to Weicker has been intertwined in After his first year of law school Reagan Administration in 1982.
his career since meeting then Sen. in the summer of 1974, Keeney “My first job was deputy general
Weicker in August 1972 when moved his family to Washington to counsel, involved in NOS issues—
Keeney was a Navy SEAL and the work on Weicker’s staff. He spent a coastal zone management, Pribiloff
assistant officer in charge of the second summer working on the Islands,” he said.
Apollo 17 recovery team. minority staff of the Senate Com- continued on page 8
May 2002 / NOAA Report 7
Vercillo Airborne Pollution house gases that will provide
researchers with real-time data.
continued from page 3 continued from page 2 Two trailers filled with instru-
is virtually on call any hour of the particles can be detected at great ments also sit atop Trindad Head,
day or night, 365 days a year. distances from their sources. The which overlooks the town and sea.
Keeping such a sophisticated spring 2002 field mission and the According to Trish Quinn of the
system operating in a variety of other research will further the Pacific Marine Environmental Lab,
situations often takes ingenuity. scientific understanding of the “Once this experiment is over, we’ll
When specialized needs occur, climate-related consequences of this continue making measurements for
Vercillo is a master at overcoming global transport of pollution. the rest of the year.”
limitations and devising creative “We’ll be looking at the aerosol Other ground measurements are
solutions to meet those needs. He particles, low-level ozone and other being made by NOAA’s Environ-
personally designed a way for pollutants coming ashore on the mental Technology Laboratory,
forecast sites to safely add their west coast, ranging from Los which has deployed several wind-
locally developed software within Angeles to the Canadian border,” profiling radars along the coast
AWIPS. said project scientist David Parrish, from San Francisco to northern
A native of Staten Island, N.Y., also from the Aeronomy Lab. Washington. These radars will
Vercillo spent 12 years in California What comes ashore is affected diagnose whether the wind mea-
before moving to the Washington, not only by pollution from Asia, sured is local air or has been
D.C., area in 1991. but also by recirculation from transported from across the ocean.
He studied computer science at California and Mexico. “We want to make sure we can
Purdue University, and has worked According to Parrish, in addition detect if air measured along the
in computer engineering ever since. to the measurements of low-level coast came out from gaps in the
He expressed a strong commit- ozone, dust and other airborne coastal mountains, from the
ment to the mission of the Na- particles, researchers will be mea- interior of the western U.S. Some-
tional Weather Service to help suring the fossil fuel emissions from times those things happen on such
protect lives and property. “With oceangoing vessels. a small local scale that it’s hard to
some systems, a delay or break- “A significant fraction of fossil detect without specialized instru-
down is just a nuisance,” Vercillo fuels on the globe is burned on ments,” said Marty Ralph of the
said. “When you are talking about these large oceangoing vessels, Environmental Technology Lab.
critical weather conditions, every- something like 10 per cent,” “So if you’re making chemistry
thing has to move smoothly, Parrish said. “So, we’ll look at what measurements along the coast, you
because lives are at stake.” happens with these ship plumes want to know if the chemicals
Deirdre Jones, director of the and try and understand more about you’re measuring originated in Asia
Systems Engineering Center in the the emissions and their effects.” or if they came from the North
Office of Science and Technology, At the same time that scientists American continent. The wind
praised Vercillo for dedicated were checking their instruments in profilers help to fill that observa-
service. “Bruno is passionate about Monterey, researchers were gather- tional gap,” Ralph said.
AWIPS and the success of the ing in the small harbor town of NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid
program,” she said. “He seems to Trinidad, Calif., to establish a Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton,
know intuitively where a problem ground measuring station. N.J., and the University of Iowa are
lies, sometimes before the people According to Andrew Clark of running chemical transport models
working on the installation of NOAA’s Climate Monitoring and to produce chemical forecasts to aid
AWIPS software upgrades.” Diagnostics Laboratory in Boulder, in flight planning. They will also
She added that Vercillo is conditions were harsh while they use these models in the post-
generous when it comes to offering were setting up in mid-April. mission analysis.
his expertise, whether it be to the “We had a lot of wind, rain and “We’re trying to get as clear a
Office of Operational Systems site cold temperatures,” he said. That picture as we can of what the
support team, individual weather was while they were climbing up a pollutants are and to determine the
forecast offices or the Systems precarious ladder to the 40-foot chemical changes that occur as they
Engineering Center. “Any place he tower to set up their instruments move from one continent to
can be helpful, he is there almost on the tower. The tower is being another,” Parrish said.
before called,” she said. used to take flask samples of carbon The Monterey-based field stage
continued on page 8 dioxide, methane and other green- of the project ends May 22.
8 NOAA Report / May 2002
New Leadership Nguyen Vercillo
continued from page 6 continued from page 3 continued from page 7
Keeney moved up through the U.S., Nguyen got a bachelor’s Vercillo acknowledged that there
ranks, becoming general counsel by degree in computer science from are special challenges in working on
the end of the Reagan Adminis- the National-Louis University in a weather system that must stay in
tration’s second term, then moving Chicago, worked as a computer operation 24 by 7. “The 3 a.m.
over to the Office of Ocean and manager for a company in New calls can be a little disrupting,” he
Coastal Resource Management as Jersey, was finally reunited with his joked, “but the important thing is
director in the early days of the wife and son, and had his second to keep the program operating.”
administration of George H. W. son. He also pointed out that having
Bush before rejoining Weicker. Since coming to NOAA nearly 159 separate sites, each with
Keeney spent four years as head four years ago, Nguyen has pro- individual operations needs and
of Connecticut’s environmental vided computer support to the resources, can be challenging.
agency, then took a similar job in NOAA Grants Management “Each system is customized differ-
Rhode Island, where among other Division, working on the transition ently, and when a glitch occurs,
things he managed a cleanup of a to CAMS, which is NOAA’s new you have to determine whether it is
spill of eight million gallons of oil financial record system. Division the generic system or the customi-
from a barge that ran aground chief Michael Nelson credited zation,” he said.
during a nor’easter storm. Nguyen with identifying stum- When not working on AWIPS,
Keeney said he believes he bling blocks, proposing solutions Bruno dedicates his time to coach-
performs best “in an emergency.” and helping the division keep on a ing his daughter’s hockey team,
He attributes this to his SEAL path to meet its deadlines. and coaching or cheering for his
training after graduating from the Nguyen is also leading the son during soccer and hockey
University of Pennsylvania in 1970. transition from a character-based games.
Keeney considers his SEAL grants reporting system to a “I was surprised at being selected
training, which is the most de- graphics user interface system. team member of the month,” he
manding in the U.S. military, to be The system is “basically what said. “It’s really a team effort, and I
“the most important thing I’ve the Grants Management Division feel that other members of the
done in my career.” uses to pump out their award team have worked just as hard on
He has remained in the Navy document when a grant application the same projects.”
reserves as a captain, currently comes to their office from a pro-
serving as commander of the Naval gram office,” said Lilian Barnes,
Reserve SEAL Forces, Atlantic. chief of the Applications Branch at simple and straightforward. “I just
He said he’s happy to be back at the NOAA Information Technology work very hard, talking with the
NOAA. “I’ll probably be involved Center in Landover, Md., and end users, helping them do their
primarily in the wet side of the Nguyen’s supervisor. job better and faster,” he said.
agency. Even though for the 11 “It’s a big improvement,” Barnes
years I was away I spent much of said. “With the old system, you The NOAA Report is a monthly publi-
my time working with the Clean had to use your keyboard for all the cation for NOAA employees from the
Air Act,” he said. navigation. There was no point and Office of Public and Constituent Affairs,
Initially, Keeney said he expects click.” Washington, D.C.
to work on strategic planning, Barnes said Nguyen’s technical Address comments to:
policy and program analysis and skills are matched by strong Editor, The NOAA Report
evaluation. “Every four or five years interpersonal skills, which she said 1315 East-West Highway
it’s appropriate to sit back and look are especially important “when SSMC3, room 10853
Silver Spring, MD 20910
at where you’re going and what you’re in a customer-type service
your goals and strategies are,” he where you have to interact with
said people. He spends at least one day Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
He said he’s also looking forward a week, and many weeks more, in NOAA Report Online: http://
to working with Mahoney. “I think the Grants Management Division, www.publicaffairs.noaa.gov/nr
we make a great team. I think we providing hands on assistance to all Jordan St. John, director, OPCA
can work with each other and play the grants specialists.” Dane Konop, editor
off each other’s strengths.” Nguyen’s approach to his job is