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Elected in 1988

“For far-reaching advances in the mechanisms of atmospheric convection, clouds, and precipitation and their application to weather prediction and modification.”


JOANNE SIMPSON (nee Gerould), former leader of the Tropical Rain Measuring Mission and storm modeling program at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Goddard Space Flight Center and the “mother” of modern research on tropical clouds and hurricanes, died on March 4, 2010, at the age of 86.

She was born Joanne Gerould on March 23, 1923, in Boston to two journalists. Her father, an outdoor enthusiast with an interest in aviation, introduced her to sailing and flying. Simpson became interested in clouds while learning to sail and as a student pilot.

Simpson broke family tradition by going west to the University of Chicago, after reading about its approach to education. Her interest in flying led her to enroll in Rossby’s course in meteorology. By the time she received her bachelor’s degree in 1943, she was able to go to New York University to teach “war courses” to future military forecasters. She returned to Chicago in 1944, continuing to teach war courses. She obtained her master’s degree in meteorology under CarlGustaf Rossby at the University of Chicago in 1945. Although she was first discouraged from pursuing a Ph.D., a class by Professor Herbert Riehl reignited her interest in clouds, which became the topic of her Ph.D. studies, with Riehl as her advisor. She obtained support by teaching courses at the

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