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Weather research visionary and leader returns as NOAA NSSL’s director
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Weather research visionary and leader returns as NOAA NSSL’s director

A collaborative leader in the meteorological community and an expert in weather modeling is returning to NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Oklahoma, as its new director. Dr. John “Jack” Kain starts in this new position on Monday, April 13.

“It is my pleasure to welcome Dr. Kain as director of NSSL. Over the years of his career at NOAA, Jack has proven to be a successful leader and has made a great impact throughout NOAA,” said Craig McLean, OAR’s assistant administrator. “His influence in the research community has helped to make research more relevant as it relates to research-to-operations.”

Kain began his NOAA Research career more than 20 years ago as a research meteorologist at NSSL and the University of Oklahoma Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies. His work as a skilled leader assisted the research organization by driving scientific activities to completion more effectively, establishing a vision, fostering innovation and collaboration, and by engaging and motivating others to deliver on NOAA and National Weather Service strategic goals.

Jack Kain at Computer

Jack Kain at Computer

Jack Kain working a computer model during Hazardous Weather Testbed in the late spring of 2009.

Kain’s reputation in cultivating strong working relationships between research scientists and operational forecasters continued into his career as the Chief of the Model Physics Group at NWS. He has led diverse teams through organizational restructuring and technology adaptation. A proven manager of people and projects, Kain is a research scientist at his core having designed a complex model-physics test and evaluation strategy that created a next-generation forecast model physics suite.

He was instrumental in creating and was co-director of the NOAA’s Hazardous Weather Testbed — a physical space fostering collaboration between forecasters, emergency managers, broadcast meteorologists, and researchers as they test experimental forecasting tools and methods. 

Through Kain’s strong relationships between the NWS SPC and OAR research scientists, NOAA’s Hazardous Weather Testbed is a model for collaboration and transition. It continues operating at full capacity to improve NWS forecasts and warnings.

Kain succeeds Steven Koch, who retired as NSSL’s director in 2019. During the transition, NSSL’s Deputy Director Kurt Hondl served as the lab’s acting director. Hondl will resume his role as deputy director next month.

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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 NOAA, 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.


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