Mick Spillane

Research Scientist and Engineer

Mick Spillane received degrees in Mathematical and Experimental Physics at University College Cork, part of the National University of Ireland. There, in 1968, he learned to program computers in Fortran (with state-of-the-art input/output using punch cards and paper tape) on the same campus where George Boole developed the math of zeros and ones. Mick's cosmic ray muon telescope, built for his master's project, proved more sensitive to meteorological than intergalactic conditions which prompted his switch to earth sciences.

In 1980 Mick obtained a Ph.D. in Physical Oceanography at Oregon State University studying continental shelf waves. Returning to Ireland, Mick worked with Dr. Edward Monahan at NUI Galway, where the wind-swept climate of the nearby Aran Islands served as a prime location for marine aerosol research. Coastal circulation studies using drifters, dye releases, and current meters also kept him busy. Mick returned to OSU in 1985 and found his niche in data analysis.

Since joining the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) as a JISAO scientist in 1990, Mick has been a "jack of all trades" working in Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska modeling, Tropical Atmosphere Ocean (TAO) studies, software support for Eastern Pacific Investigation of Climate Processes (EPIC), and Arctic climate change. In 2005 he joined the NOAA Center for Tsunami Research (NCTR) where he has been involved with site selection for open-ocean buoys used in tsunami monitoring. He also works with the database of pre-computed tsunami propagation solutions used in forecasting and risk assessment of real-time tsunami events.

Mick enjoys outreach activities and has been involved in the NOAA Science Camp since its inception in 2003. He has expounded on tsunami detection at a Science on Tap evening (a forum he highly recommends to other researchers), local schools, and at various public events at Pacific Science Center. He enjoys fly fishing and the nearly desert-like summers in Seattle (compared to those of Ireland), though his outdoor pursuits are tending more toward reclining in the garden with a good book awaiting the next over-flight of the International Space Station.