Congrats to Howard University NCAS alumnus DaNa Carlis

DaNa Carlis named director of NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory

Photo of DaNa Carlis, Ph.D., who was named the new director of NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Oklahoma.
DaNa Carlis, Ph.D., was named the new director of NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Oklahoma. Carlis brings to the position proven leadership in science as well as the advancement of diversity, equity and inclusion in the NOAA workforce. 

DaNa L. Carlis, Ph.D., a research meteorologist and experienced scientific leader, has been named the director of NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) in Norman, Oklahoma. He will join the world’s preeminent research institution for observing and understanding severe thunderstorms and extreme weather on January 29. He is the first African American to be named a lab director in NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research.

Carlis currently serves as deputy director at NOAA’s Global Systems Laboratory (GSL) in Boulder, Colorado. He has spent his 20-year career at NOAA working at the intersections between science, policy and society to ensure better products and services for the American people. In addition, he has led NOAA efforts to advance diversity, equity and inclusion, including co-founding NOAA’s Diversity and Professional Advancement Working Groupoffsite link

“Dr. Carlis shares my commitment to champion diversity and foster professional growth opportunities across the agency,” said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D. “NOAA is fortunate to have a leader with deep scientific expertise and the strong skills to elevate diversity, equity and inclusion into all aspects of NSSL’s culture.”

“As a proven leader, DaNa has guided a variety of NOAA programs and projects that have contributed to producing better forecasts, earlier warnings for natural disasters and a greater understanding of the Earth,” said Steve Thur, Ph.D., NOAA assistant administrator for Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, who announced the appointment. “His leadership experience and passion for research will help NSSL continue to fulfill its mission to help forecasters provide advance warnings of extreme weather and save lives.”

Prior to joining GSL, Carlis served as NOAA’s Earth Prediction Innovation Center program manager, policy advisor to the NOAA assistant secretary for environmental observation and prediction and NOAA chief scientist, and as a research meteorologist. He started at NOAA as a student through the Educational Partnership Program with Minority Serving Institutions.

Carlis attended Howard University, where he earned a master of science degree and doctorate in atmospheric sciences and meteorology and a bachelor of science degree in chemistry. A third generation Oklahoman and native of Tulsa, he is pleased to return to his home state.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to lead this team of dedicated and accomplished scientists,” Carlis said. “I’m looking forward to getting out into the field to see the research that has been making a real difference in peoples’ daily lives.”

Established in 1964, NSSL is committed to improving understanding of severe weather and developing new tools to better forecast and warn the public about hazards. NOAA NSSL scientists work with NOAA’s National Weather Service to ensure forecasters have the knowledge and technologies to effectively detect and issue accurate and timely forecasts and warnings of severe weather to the public. NSSL’s research has led to significant improvements in providing advance warnings for severe weather events, including lead times for tornadoes, that have saved countless lives.

Carlis takes over from Kurt Hondl, NSSL deputy laboratory director, who has advanced the NSSL’s mission, diversity initiatives and outreach during the interim period. Gary Matlock, Ph.D., deputy assistant administrator for science for NOAA Research, has served as acting NSSL director. 

Media contact 

Keli Pirtle,, (405) 203-4839