CWU News

CWU Professor Appointed Head of Atmospheric Sciences at NSF

Anne JohansenThe National Science Foundation (NSF) has appointed Central Washington University Professor of Environmental and Analytical Chemistry Anne Johansen as section head of atmospheric sciences. Johansen has been working with the NSF as acting section head since November 2020, but with this appointment, she steps into the role in a more official, long-term capacity.

The NSF is a federal agency created by Congress in 1950. Its primary objective is to promote fundamental research in science, engineering, and education through a rigorous proposal review process that provides funding for the most promising among them. Along with funding, the NSF provides research support and access to its resources to ensure that the research is conducted in the most thorough, precise way possible.

Johansen joined the Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences Division at the NSF in September 2019 as a director in the Atmospheric Chemistry Program while on temporary leave from CWU. In her new role as section head, she prioritizes interdisciplinary communication during the research process, and as part of the NSF’s day-to-day operations. The Atmospheric Sciences section is currently deeply involved with climate change research, but Johansen says the hard science of the changing climate is only one piece of the puzzle.

“There are financial issues, economic consequences, and human behavior aspects that play into this, so we have to work with social scientists,” Johansen said. “Getting all these people from different disciplines together to communicate effectively to solve these large-scale problems isn’t trivial.”

Once research has been conducted into these issues, the findings must then be integrated into public knowledge, and be made accessible. For this reason, Johansen sees education and outreach as another primary component of efficient research funding and planning.

“I think of the broader impact on society, and education is a very big part of that,” she said. “My experience working with CWU and living within a rural community in the United States has really opened up my eyes to where the needs are.”

Section head of atmospheric sciences is a senior executive service, meaning Johansen is part of a limited group of people bridging the gap between the federal government, individual researchers, and members of the federal workforce.

For now, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Johansen is back in Ellensburg. She continues her work for the NSF remotely while remaining a CWU faculty member on leave, and she looks forward to supporting researchers in the U.S. and around the world in the fight against climate change and the quest for broader understanding of our atmosphere.

Media contact: Rune Torgersen, Department of Public Affairs,