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National Geodetic Survey

NOAA Names First Woman to Direct National Geodetic Survey

New Director to Make a Mark at the National Geodetic Survey

Juliana Blackwell, the new director of NOAA's National Geodetic Survey.

Juliana Blackwell, the new director of NOAA's National Geodetic Survey.

Juliana P. Blackwell has been named the new director of NOAA’s Office of National Geodetic Survey (NGS).

As the first woman to head the nation’s oldest federal science agency, Blackwell will have a big job: overseeing management of the nation’s spatial reference system.  The National Spatial Reference System (NSRS) is a consistent coordinate system that defines latitude, longitude, height, scale, gravity, and orientation throughout the United States. This national coordinate system provides the foundation for transportation and communications; mapping and charting; and a multitude of scientific and engineering applications.

NGS also implements a coastal mapping program, which measures precise positions of the shoreline and other features needed for creating accurate nautical charts. It conducts aerial photography surveys near airports in the United States and its territories to locate obstructions and aids to air travel. NGS also develops industry specifications and standards for conducting geodetic surveys; coordinates the development and application of new surveying instrumentation and procedures; and assists state, county, and municipal agencies through a variety of cooperative programs and training workshops.

Having been a full-time member of NGS for 12 years, Blackwell is well prepared to move into the director's chair. As the chief of the NGS Observation and Analysis Division for three years, she supervised a staff of 60 employees responsible for maintaining the NSRS.

Blackwell in NOAA Corps uniform

Blackwell started her career with NOAA as a member of the NOAA Commissioned Officer uniformed services of the United States.

Blackwell also successfully managed NOAA's Height Modernization program. Height Modernization is a program within NGS that provides accurate height information by integrating Global Positioning System technology with existing survey techniques.  By improving the efficiency and accuracy of height information used in surveying, mapping, and modeling nationwide, Height Modernization saves lives and money. 

Blackwell joined NOAA in 1990 as an officer of the NOAA Corps.  During her NOAA Corps career, she served on the NOAA Ship Ferrel as a junior officer and as fourth officer on board the NOAA Ship Whiting. She joined the National Geodetic Survey full time in 1996.