North Carolina Sea Grant
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News Releases

March 2, 2018 | Julie Leibach

N.C. Sea Grant Contact: Jessica Whitehead,, 919-515-1686
AMS Contacts: Tom Champoux. 617-226-3956; Rachel Thomas-Medwid 617-226-3955

High-resolution headshot of Jessica Whitehead available here.

Jessica Whitehead is a member of the American Meteorological Society’s inaugural Early Career Leadership Academy (ECLA). She is one of 34 scientists selected as diverse and competent emerging leaders in weather, water, and climate science.

Whitehead is the coastal communities hazards adaptation specialist for North Carolina Sea Grant. She also is among leaders in the National Sea Grant network’s focus on weather and climate.

“We are proud of yet another national recognition of Jessica’s leadership in multiple arenas,” notes Susan N. White, North Carolina Sea Grant’s executive director. “She is extremely effective at connecting coastal communities with relevant research, and excels at building relationships across academic institutions, state and federal agencies, media partners, and other entities.”

Whitehead is currently serving on the Independent Advisory Committee on Applied Climate Assessment. She previously served on the Federal Advisory Committee on Sustained National Climate Assessment, chartered from 2015 to 2017.

“I’m looking forward to learning from my peers in the academy,” Whitehead says. “I hope to apply new skills to designing projects that improve coastal community resilience, and to helping NOAA Sea Grant establish its niche in the weather, water, and climate enterprise,” she says.

“As one of the ECLA participants toward the end of my ‘early career’ phase, I also think I’ll be able to share what I’ve learned from working in rural communities as well as at the federal level,” she adds.

Donna Charlevoix, chair of ECLA Advisory Board, is excited to launch the academy. “Science is one of the most international enterprises, where people from different disciplines, nationalities, and cultures work together toward a shared goal.”

The ECLA also includes Hunter Jones, a past Knauss Marine Policy Fellow from Duke University, who is now a special projects manager within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Program Office serving as a UCAR CPAESS Affiliate.

Prior to joining North Carolina Sea Grant, Whitehead was the regional climate extension specialist for the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium, North Carolina Sea Grant and the Carolinas Integrated Sciences and Assessments, known as CISA.

Whitehead holds a doctorate in geography and a Master of Science degree in meteorology from Pennsylvania State University. Her doctoral dissertation focused on the capacities of small drinking water utilities to adapt to climate change. She also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from the College of Charleston.

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