Dr. Foster began his two-year term at the conclusion of the AASC’s 37th annual meeting earlier this month in Destin, Fla.
“It is a very distinct honor for me to serve people I hold in high esteem,” he said. “I’m very honored to have the opportunity and will do the best job I can. The experience I’ve had as state climatologist and in helping build the Kentucky Mesonet has been valuable and has helped prepare me for this opportunity.
“I grew up in a family in which I saw my grandparents and parents, specifically my grandfather and father, being very active in public service. This is my way to carry that torch and follow the example set for me.”
Dr. Foster’s position as president of the professional scientific organization also “reflects the ongoing evolution and prominence of WKU in the area of meteorology and climatology,” he said.
The Kentucky Climate Center was established in 1978 and is one of the oldest climate offices in the United States; the Kentucky Mesonet is one of two such world-class automated weather and climate observing systems in existence; Dr. Rezaul Mahmood, associate director of the Kentucky Climate Center and Kentucky Mesonet, is serving on the National Climate Assessment Development and Advisory Committee; and other faculty members and students actively engage in meteorological and climatological research and outreach.
“We’ve built a center of excellence at WKU and this further enhances our national reputation in this area,” Dr. Foster said. “It’s important that we have a leadership role in Kentucky and are recognized beyond our borders. We take pride in that.”
Dr. David Keeling, head of WKU’s Department of Geography and Geology, agreed. “Dr. Foster’s appointment to the AASC presidency is national recognition not only of his outstanding contributions to the scientific community but also of the growing national status of WKU’s climate programs and services,” Dr. Keeling said. “As the Climate Center and the Mesonet continue to make valuable contributions to the wider Kentucky community, Dr. Foster’s work with the AASC will further enhance WKU’s reputation as a leading American university with international reach.”
The AASC promotes cooperation between state climatologists, the National Climatic Data Center, the regional climate centers, and other federal, state, and private agencies on matters related to climate.
“Weather and climate affect people, communities and the economy on a daily basis,” he said. “It’s easy to see right now with drought in Kentucky, including the western part of the state in record drought conditions while last year we had extreme precipitation and flooding in some of those same areas. There’s no need to debate that climate is an important topic.”
In addition to weather and climate issues, Dr. Foster expects to focus on two issues as AASC president – re-examining the certification process for state climate offices and developing a strategy that will enable the organization to hire an executive director for the organization, strengthen federal partnerships and provide an enhanced level of service to its members.
“The AASC is an organization that is dedicated to providing services down to the local level and to individual states,” he said. “Our members take pride in being recognized as a trusted local authority on climate-related issues.”
Contact: Stuart Foster, (270) 745-5983.