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Humans of NCEI: Lauren Carroll

Humans of NCEI
Courtesy of NOAA NCEI

Here at NCEI, we aren’t just data—we are people. In our Humans of NCEI series, meet the awesome minds that manage one of the largest archives of atmospheric, coastal, geophysical, and oceanic research in the world. Get to know Lauren Carroll, a Meteorologist and Communication Specialist who is passionate about communicating NCEI’s data and products. 

Courtesy of Lauren Carroll

What is your job title?

Communication Specialist

What is your specific area of expertise?

The communication of scientific findings and data to the general public, making the awesome science and data stewardship that NCEI folks do accessible and understandable to all!

What was your first job? How did it prepare you for your current position?

One of my first jobs was broadcast meteorologist at a local TV station while I was getting my master's degree in meteorology at Florida State University. It helped me learn how to talk about weather and forecasts in a way that everyone can understand, not just to other scientists. TV didn't end up being the route I chose for myself long-term, but it helped me become a much better communicator...and is also how I met my husband!

How did you end up at NCEI?

Before I came to NCEI, I spent about five years as a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. There, I issued various weather/aviation forecasts, and watches/warnings as needed, including observing radar for severe weather. I did a lot of weather education for children and adults and realized that communicating the science I was trained in could make a huge difference in people staying safe in rough weather. It furthered my passion for science communication. When the Communication Specialist position opened at NCEI, I jumped at it!

What does a usual workday look like for you?

It depends on the day! Sometimes my day involves writing web stories or social media content, some days involve meetings with scientists to learn about their work so I can help them communicate it, and other times there are meetings with other scientific communicators inside and outside of NOAA to coordinate and fine-tune messaging. Every day is different and it makes my job a lot of fun. 

What question are you asked most often when someone finds out what you do? How do you respond?

"Oh, you work for NOAA? What is that like?" My answer is usually along the lines of "It's pretty great if you like science!" The other one I get a lot is "What is the weather going to be like tomorrow?" when people find out I'm also a meteorologist. I usually have an answer for them because I still enjoy forecasting!

What sort of training and education would one need for your job?

I think that answer could vary! I have undergraduate degrees in Meteorology and Media/Communication Studies and a master's degree in Meteorology, and I use knowledge and experience from both fields very often. My science background is very useful, but training in communications and how people interpret and understand different messaging has also been invaluable to me. One of the most important classes I've had for this and every job I've had (and one I recommend to all scientists and nonscientists) is a class in statistics and how to interpret them. Stats are everywhere in your everyday life!

What inspired you to pursue a career in your field?

I've been interested in weather and science since kindergarten, so my pursuit of science started early. My involvement in science communication started in college when I began working on weather safety outreach events with NOAA National Weather Service and realized what a difference communication could make.

What projects are you working on now? Are there any upcoming projects that you are excited about?

Right now I'm working on plans for some new video content for NCEI. I'm excited to see how it turns out!

What is your favorite aspect of your job?

This one is a tie! I love working with the diverse data and science NCEI produces and stewards, and I also absolutely love the communications team I work with every single day. Their perspectives, work ethic, and sense of humor are unmatched.

What challenges have you had to deal with in your career?

I've been very lucky to have very few obstacles in my career, and a lot of that is thanks to some excellent mentors in different stages of my education and career. I've faced challenges that come with being a female scientist, but have also been lucky enough to receive a lot of support too.

Who are you outside of your career?

My newest title is "mom" to my sweet baby girl who was born in February of this year, and I'm a dog mom to three rescue dogs. I'm an active, outdoorsy person and spend a lot of my free time running, and I love gardening and cooking with my husband.

Last book you read?

"The Big Ones: How Natural Disasters Have Shaped Us (and What We Can Do About Them)" by Dr. Lucy Jones.

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