Hello everyone. My name is Brigitte Baeuerle and I am the Manager for the Field Project Services facility within NCAR’s Earth Observing Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado. I work with a small group of Project Managers who help scientists in the planning, implementation, and coordination of scientific field campaigns such as VOCALS.
I grew up in a fairly small and rather traditional town in southern Germany, but realized early on that I had inherited my ancestors’ gene for “Wanderlust” – this translates roughly into “joy of moving around”. I went off to college to get a Bachelor’s degree in Biology, being primarily interested in microbiology and entomology. During my third year in college I seized a great opportunity to participate in a one-year exchange program between the University of Tuebingen and Oregon State University. One year turned into three and I ended up getting a Master’s degree in Oceanography. Looking back, graduate school turned out to be a fantastic experience, not only because I got to do real research but also because I got inspired by my fellow students from all over the world who shared similar interests and experiences.
After graduate school I needed another break and got a summer job with the University of Alaska, Juneau. I spent several months on a yacht sailing from Seward to Homer and back, collecting seaweeds along various beaches to assess the impact of the Exxon Valdez oil spill on marine organisms. I am probably one of very few people who can say that they own an algae collecting and are not referring to their refrigerator. Once the summer was over, I got a phone call from my former graduate advisor asking whether I would be interested in moving to Boulder to join his office to coordinate and plan one of the biggest ocean/atmosphere research projects in the 20th century. The most appealing part of the job was that I would temporarily move to Townsville, Australia and also get to travel to various places including the Solomon Islands and China. After that I was hooked. I had found a profession that allowed me to combine my interest in science with my enjoyment of travel and my curiosity for different people and cultures.
Most of my involvement in VOCALS has already happened. I spent the last year or so working with the VOCALS investigators on planning and implementing the project. As you can imagine, there are many different aspects to getting ready – everything from finding a location that can accommodate five airplanes, to getting permission from the Chilean government to conduct research, to meeting air traffic officials and controllers to discuss flight plans, to shipping a large amount of very expensive equipment from one country to another. In short, my group takes care of all the arrangements that need to be in place before our scientists arrive on site to start the research operations. Once the project starts, we help with the day-to-day operations by conducting the daily planning meetings, setting up the infrastructure (including computer networks), and providing administrative help as needed.