Rob Griffin

Dr. Rob Griffin led the yearlong application process with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency that resulted in UAH's Department of Atmospheric Science earning a Center of Academic Excellence designation.

The Department of Atmospheric Science at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) has been named a Center of Academic Excellence (CAE) in geospatial sciences by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and the U.S. Geological Survey.

"This designation recognizes the high quality of our curriculum and our research in geographic information systems (GIS) and remote sensing," says Dr. Larry Carey, department chair. "It also reflects on our commitment to use state-of-the-art GIS methods to address important problems in the Earth system sciences (ESS)."

"This is recognition for our whole program, Earth system science and atmospheric science, both graduate and undergrad," says Dr. Rob Griffin, the assistant professor in ESS who led the yearlong application process with the NGA. "It's something our faculty and research enterprise can use. It brings attention to our program, will help us recruit and retain new students, and is something we can leverage on research funding proposals."

Being selected as a CAE means the Department's undergraduate and graduate programs in ESS meet standards set by NGA, and that UAH's academic program gives students the knowledge and skill sets they need to become active members of the geospatial sciences field.

"That's definitely something I will brag about in the future," says Melanie Phillips Laverdiere, who earned her bachelor’s and master’s degree in ESS from UAH and now serves on the Population Distribution and Dynamics Team at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. "We work with NGA and a lot of our products go to them, so the next time I talk to them I will be sure to mention this."

Part of the U.S. Department of Defense, the NGA provides geospatial information and support for military and intelligence projects around the world. It also assists in humanitarian and disaster relief efforts in the U.S. and abroad, an area closely aligned with work done by UAH students and faculty affiliated with NASA's SERVIR and DEVELOP programs.

"NGA is growing," Dr. Griffin says. "It has a presence in Huntsville, where the GIS community is expanding. There are certainly GIS applications at use in defense and at other federal agencies."