Cara MariAnna

Outreach and Diversity Specialist

Cara MariAnnaCara MariAnna joined JISAO in summer 2000 after completing a PhD. in American Studies from the University of New Mexico. Her first position, as a part-time office assistant, was intended to bridge a gap for a few months, but eight years later Cara is still with JISAO and now coordinates the Outreach & Diversity Program. She brings to her work a passion for helping people as well as a strong interest in diversity, social justice and in the collaborative team environment that is central to JISAO's work culture.

The experience of growing up in rural north Idaho in an isolated farming community sparked an early interest in learning about the larger world. Keeping with that early interest the focus of her graduate work in American Studies was on race, ethnicity and gender in the United States.

Launched in September 2006, JISAO's Outreach & Diversity Program is becoming a model for creative collaboration between NOAA and the UW. This year the program started several new and successful initiatives including an exchange program with Howard University and the NOAA Center for Atmospheric Sciences (NCAS), the JISAO Lecture Series, and a variety of public education and K-12 events, as well as the institute's continued participation in many NOAA and UW community activities. Because of these efforts JISAO's presence in the local and national environmental science networks has increased. The NOAA Cooperative Institute program officer recognized the innovative techniques used to develop this program and awarded additional funding for the summer internship program next year.

Success of the Outreach & Diversity Program is dependent upon the generous participation of JISAO scientists, faculty, and post docs.The numerous outreach events that JISAO participates in have been led by dedicated JISAO staff sharing their talent and time to bring science to young people and the larger community. Educational outreach events are highly rewarding opportunities to interface one-on-one with people, to help increase scientific literacy, and to nurture inquisitiveness and a passion for learning in young people.

If you would like to get involved in outreach and educational events, or, if you have any ideas for events, please contact Cara at:, 206-Mick Spillane giving tsunami demonstration685-7821. The time commitment to outreach activities is determined by each individual's availability—even a few hours of time is a significant contribution and can be very rewarding. Please contact Cara to report any personal outreach activities that you might participate in throughout the year, e.g., speaking at your child's school.

A full report on this year's activities will be available in JISAO's annual report for 2007-08. The following is a partial list of activities and accomplishments of the past year:

  • Howard University and NOAA Center for Atmospheric Sciences (NCAS) exchange program
    • JISAO hosted (3) visitors from Howard University
    • The NCAS/JISAO Undergraduate Internship Program was successfully launched, with JISAO hosting one intern in summer 2008
    • Plans are under way for the JISAO Director to visit Howard/NCAS in the fall for meetings and a seminar exchange
    • Additional funding was granted from NOAA/OAR in support of the NCAS/JISAO Undergraduate Internship Program for summer 2009
  • JISAO Lecture Series 2008, "Climate Change: A Wake Up Call"
    • A successful partnership with Seattle's Pacific Science Center (PSC) reaching over 500 people o King County Executive Ron Sims gave the keynote address
    • Konrad Steffen and Jonathan Overpeck gave lectures at PSC and the UW
    • Spin-off events included Tom Ackerman's participation in "Science on Tap" (a local Science Café), Jonathan Overpeck's talk before an audience of nearly 400 at Seattle Rotary, and Konrad Steffen's participation in the Polar Science Center Weekend opening event at PSC
    • UWTV recorded the lectures which are in streaming video and for podcasting
  • Other Public Education Events
    • The JISAO tsunami group participated in the widely attended NOAA outreach event, Marine Exploration Weekend, at PSC
    • JISAO co-sponsored a science Café with the UW's Burke Museum in conjunction with their exhibit, The Last Polar Bear
  • K-12 Events
    • JISAO scientists presented two summer science workshops to nearly 60 middle and high school students with the UW GEAR UP Project (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs)
    • The Outreach Program worked with DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) staff and organized workshops at the UW and NOAA for their summer program
    • JISAO scientists participated in the sixth annual NOAA Science Camp, leading the PMEL activities
    • For the third year JISAO contributed money to Science Camp scholarships funding students from underrepresented minorities
    • JISAO contributed funds for the filming of Science Camp
  • Mentoring and Career Fairs
    • In partnership with the UW Alumni Association (UWAA) and Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity, JISAO provided a mentor for their Career Mentor Program
    • JISAO staffed a science table at the UWAA Husky Career Lunch outreaching to undergraduate students
  • JISAO Undergraduate Internship Program

JISAO co-sponsored one undergraduate summer position at Richard Keil's research lab in Oceanography, the student participated in a 3-week research cruise