Our Mission is to conduct research to understand and predict the Earth system; develop technology to improve NOAA science, service, and stewardship; and transition the results so they are useful to society. Learn about NOAA Research.
Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR)—or “NOAA Research”—provides the research foundation for understanding the complex systems that support our planet. Working in partnership with other organizational units of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a bureau of the Department of Commerce, NOAA Research enables better forecasts, earlier warnings for natural disasters, and a greater understanding of the Earth. Our role is to provide unbiased science to better manage the environment, nationally, and globally. Visit the OAR Strategy page to learn more.
NOAA and the nation depend on the cutting-edge science provided by its research programs. Recently, NOAA Research built much of the foundation for the modernization of the National Weather Service. The research programs provide the science necessary to help NOAA achieve its goals to:
Serve society’s needs for weather and water information;
Lead the effort to understand and monitor climate variability and change to enhance society’s ability to plan and respond;
Work to protect, restore and manage the use of coastal and ocean resources through ecosystem-based management; and
Support the Nation’s commerce with information for safe, efficient and environmentally sound transportation.
Working under the broad themes of Climate, Weather and Air Quality, and Ocean and Coastal Resources, NOAA scientists study the ocean’s depths and the highest reaches of space to better understand our environment. NOAA’s long-term commitment to the highest quality research includes engaging in-house and extramural talent to:
Continue to conduct experiments to understand natural processes (physical, geochemical, ecological);
Build predictive models for use in weather, air quality, climate, solar, ocean, emergency management, and coastal assessments and predictions;
Develop and deploy new observing technologies to provide data to support predictive models and to document natural variability;
Develop new analytical and forecast tools to improve weather services;
Use new information technology to share information with other federal and academic scientists; and
Prepare scientific assessments and information products to enhance public education and guide governmental action.
Research plans and products are developed in partnership with academia and other federal agencies, and are peer-reviewed and widely distributed. A high premium is placed on external collaboration both domestically and internationally. In addition, personnel management practices of hiring, promotion, and awards are based on demonstrable capability through internal and external peer assessment. Peer review, collaboration, and partnerships ensure that NOAA’s research is of the highest quality and remains focused on critical issues.
NOAA is a world leader in environmental science today and is well positioned and organized to provide the sound scientific research policy-makers will always need. However, most of the environmental questions our nation and the world face are not easily answered. A strong NOAA is necessary to tackle the complex issues that only advanced scientific knowledge is able to adequately address. NOAA Research answers the call.
We provide comprehensive knowledge to guide national environmental policy decisions, including better predictions of the climate response to emissions changes, choices for protection of the ozone layer, and alternatives for developing coastal communities.
Improved Environmental Services
We improve environmental services to the nation, including reliable predictions and assessments.
Increased Economic Growth
We promote economic growth through science for decision-making, new technology, and partnerships with academia and industry;
Steven Thur, Ph.D. is the Assistant Administrator for Oceanic and Atmospheric Research.
Prior to joining NOAA Research, Thur’s career with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) focused on applying service through science in order to manage, restore, and conserve marine resources. He had a particular emphasis on how both the biophysical and social sciences are used to sustain coastal ecosystems and the vibrant human communities that depend upon them for livelihoods, recreation, and as a place for connecting with nature. Thur was Director of NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science from 2017 to 2022 and the Deputy Director from 2013 to 2017.
Prior to that, from 2007 to 2013, he was the Coordinator of NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program, the nation’s premier coral reef science program. From 2003 to 2007, Dr. Thur was an economist for the NOAA Office of Response and Restoration.
Thur received his Ph.D. in marine policy from the University of Delaware’s Graduate College of Marine Studies in 2003. His dissertation research was on sustainable financing mechanisms for coral reef marine protected areas. He holds Bachelor’s degrees in biology and economics from St. Mary’s College of Maryland.
Vacant Deputy Assistant Administrator for Programs & Administration
The Deputy Assistant Administrator for Programs and Administration for Oceanic and Atmospheric Research is currently vacant. Emily Menashes, the former Deputy Assistant Administrator, is now the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Operations for NOAA Fisheries. Please find her current information here .
Gary Matlock Deputy Assistant Administrator for Science
Dr. Gary Matlock is serving as the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Science for Oceanic and Atmospheric Research.
He is responsible for guiding and evaluation of NOAA’s research and development portfolio. Prior to arriving at OAR, he spent 18 years working in three other NOAA Line Offices directing ecological and fisheries related research and overseeing the agency’s national and international fisheries management programs.
Dr. Matlock began his federal career with NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service in 1992 as the Director of Field Operations in the Southwest Region where he became the Acting Regional Director after 3 months. During his year’s tenure in these positions, he was involved in the management of domestic and international fisheries along the west coast of the United States and throughout the southern Pacific Ocean. In 1994 he became the Program Management Officer for the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in Silver Spring, Maryland where he oversaw the day-to-day operations of the agency, expanding his fisheries management experience domestically and internationally to the north Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. In 2000, he became the Director of the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science in the National Ocean Service (NOS) where he was responsible for directing and managing an ecosystem science agenda that provides science to support the Ocean’s Service place-based management mission. He also served as the Acting Director of NOAA’s Program Analysis and Evaluation (PAE) office and as Acting Assistant Administrator of the NOAA’s Policy, Planning, and Integration (PPI) Office.
Prior to joining NMFS, Dr. Matlock spent his fisheries career with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). His dissertation provided a basis for the management of the red drum fishery in Texas. He began as a fisheries biologist responsible for developing a monitoring program for adult finfish in Texas bays and left TPWD after having been the Director of Fisheries of TPWD. During his tenure with TPWD he earned his Ph.D. in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences at Texas A&M University and conducted and published the results of research in the scientific literature on many fisheries management and aquaculture topics including those involved with biology, sociology, and economics.
Throughout his career, he has successfully led an effort to base fisheries management decisions on scientific information instead of political whim or personal opinions. This goal has taken him to all levels of the judicial system as an expert witness on behalf of science and fisheries management decisions, including the U.S. Supreme Court where a NMFS decision concerning native American tribal treaty rights and salmon on the west coast was upheld. He has and continues to publish in the national and international scientific literature on the biological, ecological, social, and economic aspects of fisheries science and management.
He received a U.S. Department of Commerce Gold Medal in 1996, and the Vice President’s Hammer award in 1998 for his efforts to reform the fisheries management regulatory process. He received another Gold Medal in 2000 for having led the development of an e-commerce based program for requiring and issuing a financially self-sustaining Atlantic tunas fishing permit (the first marine recreational fishing permit in the U.S.)
NOAA Research Organizational Structure
Our Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion
NOAA Research is committed to achieving diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility at all levels of the organization. We recognize that this is not a short-term goal but one that requires a deliberate, sustained effort.