IN THE SPOTLIGHT
In the Spotlight With Susan Avery
They lead major academic divisions and shape the direction and quality of programs for faculty, staff and students. In this series, "In the Spotlight," we ask CU-Boulder deans to give us a glimpse into their personalities by answering questions aimed at providing a unique perspective on "the person behind the desk." Part four of this series features Susan Avery, dean of the Graduate School and vice chancellor for research.
1. Outside of work, what do you spend the most time thinking about and why?
My family is very important to me and I spend a great deal of time thinking about my husband, our son, my mother, and how we can juggle all of our activities to spend time together. My husband, Jim, is a computer engineer and professor in CU's electrical and computer engineering department. He is currently taking lessons on how to be the spouse of a dean and vice chancellor from Bob Lynch, husband of former Dean Carol Lynch. He is doing admirably well — even to the point of graciously wearing a tuxedo at a recent event. Our son, Chris, is in his senior year at Fairview high school so we are surrounded by piles of college brochures while he tries to sort out which ones sound interesting enough to fill out an application. And my mother, Alice, moved out to Boulder and is enjoying independent retirement living and making mischief with our son. We enjoy music events (many are Chris's concerts), the theater, and dance as well as hiking or snowshoeing in Colorado's great scenery. Our favorite spots are in the Ouray, Telluride, and Silverton area. We try to eat dinner together every night, often debating issues with Chris; enjoy the holidays together and with friends, colleagues, and graduate students; and take advantage of travel opportunities to explore and learn about different cultures as a family.
2. Describe a situation that you found particularly challenging or difficult and what you learned from it.
I think one of the most challenging efforts was the development of
the CIRES/NOAA research effort in climate variability and its impacts
on water in the interior west. This research project required
the integration of research on climate science, hydrology, societal
demographics and institutions, economics, and water policy. CIRES
pushed beyond its traditional earth system science approach to a new
level of science enquiry. The project also required scientists
to understand the decision making processes of water resource managers
and other stakeholders in order to understand how scientific information
is used and when/what science information is most important in those
decision processes. Engagement with these decision makers has
been challenging and most fulfilling. The project has now been
in place for about five years and, while not funded at the level I would
like to see, has generated many success stories, including the development
and use of new hydro-meteorology forecasting tools, new scenarios for
water resource planning that includes climate variability and change,
and a new engagement of scientists with the state drought task force
and the Western Governor's Association initiative on an integrated
drought information system. From this experience I have learned
a set of lessons about putting a team of researchers together that focuses
on the inter-dependency of the disciplines in interdisciplinary work,
how you develop partnerships with user communities and how they can
help frame fundamental research questions and required methodologies,
and other metrics that might be available for evaluating interdisciplinary
research and scholarship in addition to peer-reviewed publications.
CU-Boulder Celebrates Carl Wieman, National Professor of the Year
In the Spotlight With Susan Avery
Campus Diversity Update
Ending the Year on a Celebratory Note
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