Katharine Jacobs, University of Arizona water specialist, has accepted a White House appointment in Washington, D.C. through an arrangement with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Jacobs will work on national climate change issues.
For decades, Jacobs has been involved in local and national discussions on issues related to water rights and conservation; at times also serving as a preeminent voice on ways to translate science into sustainable policy.
Those years of work and expertise have resulted in Jacobs earning an appointment with NOAA, from which serving with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, or OSTP.
Jacobs, a department of soil, water, and environmental science professor and specialist, was named the OSTP's assistant director for climate adaptation and assessment within the office's Energy and Environment Division. She began the post Jan. 4.
Jacobs, who is not taking a UA leave of absence, is assigned to NOAA through the Intergovernmental Personnel Act Mobility Program, which allows state and university employees to be temporarily placed in positions within federal government offices.
The announcement of her position comes at a crucial time. The 20-year anniversary of the enactment of the U.S. Global Change Research Act is approaching. The act mandates research on the climate to promote an enhanced understanding of global climate change and periodic assessments of the impacts of climate change.
Also, the Obama administration has identified addressing global climate change and "green jobs" related to development and deployment of alternative and renewable energy sources among its high priorities.
"Climate issues are very significant for this administration and there is a broad objective of limiting the emissions of greenhouse gases as well as supporting state and local efforts to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate," said Jacobs, who also is an Extension specialist in water management.
During last month's United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Copenhagen, President Obama said, “Climate change poses a grave and growing danger to our people." He also noted that dismissing concerns related to the adverse effects of climate change threaten "our security, our economies, and our planet."
Obama also emphasized that the United States will continue enhancing its reliance on renewable energies.
Jacobs, who joined the UA faculty in 2003, holds joint appointments with the hydrology and water resources department and the School of Geography and Development.