Text Size

Meet Robbie E. Hood: Atmospheric Scientist, Director of NOAA's Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program
Photo of Dr. Robbie HoodRobbie Hood is a Native American atmospheric scientist who, in September 2008, became the new and first permanent is now the new and first permanent director of NOAA's Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program. She is located in Boulder, Colorado.

Previously, she worked within the Earth Science Office of the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), Huntsville, Ala. One-eighth Cherokee, Ms. Hood is a direct descendant of John Ross, the first elected chief of the Cherokee Nation. Mr. Ross, who held the office for nearly 40 years, is famous for leading the Cherokees on the Trail of Tears – their forced relocation from the Southeastern United States to present-day Oklahoma in 1938-1939. Coincidentally, one route of the Trail of Tears passes near Marshall Space Flight Center where Ms. Hood worked until September 2008. Ms. Hood spent much of her childhood in Neosho, Missouri and Picayune, Miss, where she developed an interest of weather by witnessing the devastating effects of Hurricane Camille in Miss, in 1969 and the1974 Neosho tornado.

Ms. Hood is keenly interested in research and development of new technology to improve the measurement capabilities and utilization of remote sensing observations for monitoring Earth system processes. At NASA she was the leader of a passive microwave instrumentation group of scientists and engineers who have developed and deployed two aircraft sensors to observe precipitation and oceanic winds. Her team has participated in numerous aircraft/satellite field experiments conducted by NASA to study the development, behavior, and intensity of weather events in or near Australia, Brazil, Alaska, the Marshall Islands, Costa Rica and the coastal regions of the United States. In collaboration with her fellow lightning research colleagues at MSFC, her team has published research results highlighting the benefit of simultaneously sampled passive microwave observations of precipitation structures and storm electric field information to monitor the intensity of thunderstorms and tropical cyclones from an aircraft platform.

As a strong advocate for scientific collaboration and partnership, Ms. Hood has been a mission scientist in three NASA research experiments studying hurricane genesis, intensity, precipitation, and landfalling impacts. In this capacity, she has led a collaborative science team of approximately 25 principal investigators across multiple NASA field centers, governmental agencies, and academic institutions and a 100-person field investigation team comprised of aircraft pilots, project and information managers, weather forecasters, scientists, engineers, and students. A compilation of the first research results of these hurricane experiments have been published in a January 2006 special issue of the American Meteorological Society Journal of Atmospheric Sciences.

A photo of Ms. Hood (right) preparing to fly on the NASA DC Image right: A photo of Ms. Hood (right) preparing to fly on the NASA DC-8 aircraft during a 2004 NASA hurricane experiment. Credit: Robbie Hood

An equally strong advocate for intergovernmental partnerships, Ms. Hood is currently co-chairing a Joint Action Group for Tropical Cyclone Research (JAG/TCR) which is a Federal multi-agency team sponsored by the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Meteorology. The JAG/TCR has been chartered to develop recommendations for a 10-year strategic plan of tropical cyclone research priorities focused on improving both the understanding and predictability of these high impact events. Ms. Hood is a member of the National Science Foundation Observing Facilities Assessment Panel (OFAP). The OFAP is a panel of recognized experts tasked with monitoring common-use aspects of NSF-sponsored observing facilities at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the Naval Research Laboratory, Colorado State University and the University of Wyoming, and with providing advice on the allocation of observing facilities in response to field experiment requests from the research community.

A photo of Ms. Hood being interviewed for the NBC Today Show in 2004. Image left: A photo of Ms. Hood being interviewed for the NBC Today Show in 2004. The NASA DC-8 aircraft is visible in the background. Credit: Robbie Hood

Ms. Hood credits her Native American heritage for her appreciation of the beneficial contributions that diversity brings to all community sectors. She also feels that the communication of scientific information across all community sectors contributes to better utilization of scientific knowledge for societal benefit. She frequently speaks to student and civic groups and has mentored both high school and undergraduate students. She enjoyed meeting Native Americans of other tribal communities when she served as the keynote speaker for the NASA Awareness Days symposium held with the North Dakota Tribal Colleges in 2002. Ms. Hood has been interviewed frequently by television, radio, and print media including personnel of the NBC Today Show, CNN, MSNBC, Time magazine, USA TODAY, and the Miami Herald. She served as a NASA Host Research Scientist for the JASON Project, which is non-profit educational foundation, during the development of a multi-media curriculum on “Monster Storms” for students in grades 5-8.

Related Web Sites:

CAMEX Missions


(KWJEX) Kwajalein Experiment


TOGA COARE Field Experiment

TRMM-LBA Mission

Rob Gutro
Goddard Space Flight Center