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MEET: Neil Weston

Physicist, National Geodetic Survey

I am a physical scientist with the Geosciences Research Division at the National Geodetic Survey.  I spend most of my time working on positioning software, modeling, and research associated with the use of the Global Positioning System.  The models and tools we develop are routinely used for crustal motion analysis, atmospheric modeling, and analysis of subsidence (land sinking) at specific areas along the U.S. coast.

Neil Weston


What do you like most about working at NOS?

There are many scientific problems to work on at NOAA.  Scientists and engineers who can tackle specific problems are encouraged to pursue those areas in which they are most interested.  Some scientific programs are demanding and intellectually challenging, but the rewards for obtaining a solution to a problem or establishing an outcome with your colleagues are very gratifying.

What is the hardest part of your job?

I wouldn’t say there is a particular portion of my job that is the hardest.  During the course of a year, I encounter numerous problems; some of which can be solved in a few days and others which require months of collaboration with my colleagues.  In the end, one becomes a master at managing time and resources.

What is your educational background?

  • Ph.D. in engineering and applied physics – Catholic University of America
  • Masters in applied physics – Johns Hopkins University
  • Bachelors in biology and chemistry – University of Tampa
  • Certified Project Manager – Stanford University

What inspired your interest in the ocean and coasts?

There are many interactions which take place between the oceans and coasts as well as between the oceans and the atmosphere.  These interactions often have a direct effect on a large number of resources we use today.  One of our goals is to understand what dynamic changes occur between these environmental interfaces, so adequate modeling can help scientists and policy makers make the most efficient use of the Earth’s resources for today and for the future.

How did you end up working at NOAA?

While in school, I attended a job fair where NOAA, along with the NOAA Corps, had a booth displaying many aspects of scientific life on a research ship.  A year later, I was onboard the NOAA Ship Ferrel, working near Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

What advice do you have for young people wanting a career in the "ocean realm"?

Follow any scientific interests you may have and determine what academic path you need to pursue to reach your goals.  Don’t let one or two challenging science courses deter you!  Remember your dream and work toward it.

What is the most interesting/important thing you've learned while working at NOAA?

The problems and programs that we work on today are only small pieces of many of the world’s larger puzzles.  NOAA scientists tackle very large and complex scientific issues that often affect many people and natural resources worldwide.