A Chickasaw scientist working to bring Native Americans into the field of meteorology

Suzanne Van Cooten, a proud citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, is the Hydrologist In Charge at the National Weather Service (NWS) Lower Mississippi Forecast center (LMRFC) in Slidell, LA. She has degrees from both the University of Oklahoma and the University of New Orleans. Van Cooten is known to be the only woman of Native American descent to have obtained a Ph.D. within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The respected hydrometeorologist is proud of her Chickasaw heritage and focuses a large portion of her work on strengthening the interaction between the climate research community and Native American populations.

“I see this as excellent opportunity,” Van Cooten said. “If we can get the state, the federal government, the academic institutions and then within that, have the social sciences and the academic programs realize that Native Americans provide a very valuable aspect and perspective … then we can start getting more Native Americans into meteorology and start building up a level of trust.”

Accomplishments

  • Research Hydrologist and Meteorologist at the National Severe Storms Laboratory (2005-2011)
  • Chief Scientist at NOAA/National Weather Service/National Data Buoy Center (2001-2005)
  • Forecaster at NOAA/National Weather Service/New Orleans-Baton Rouge Forecast Office (1998-2000)
  • Hydrometeorological Analysis and Support (HAS) Forecaster at NOAA/National Weather Service/Lower Mississippi River Forecast Center (1997-1999)
  • Regional Program Manager-Upper Air, Surface Observations, NEXRAD, ASOS at NOAA/National Weather Service/Southern Region Headquarters (1993-1997)