Yoskowitz serves as NOAA Chief Economist
Dr. David Yoskowitz, Associate Director and Endowed Chair for Socio-Economics, returned to the Harte Research Institute (HRI) this summer after a one-year appointment as Chief Economist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
What was it like promoting social sciences at an agency traditionally known for its work in fields like marine science and meteorology? Out of about 19,000 NOAA employees and federal contractors, Yoskowitz said, there were about 250 people purely focused on social science and policy.
Yoskowitz was tasked with chairing the team that developed a vision and strategy for integrating social science across the agency’s many sectors with existing resources. That final report — which included goals to use social science to better define and measure the agency’s impact on communities; better assess and communicate risk; and to strengthen the agency’s mission — was delivered on his last day in office.
Yoskowitz also served as co-chair for the task force responsible for a White House report supporting the integration of coastal green infrastructure like wetlands and reefs into risk-reduction strategies, resilience planning and decision-making. The report, released in September, recommends prioritized areas for federal research to support coastal green infrastructure that will enhance the coastal United States’ natural defenses, particularly as climate change will contribute to an increased frequency and intensity of weather events.
Yoskowitz said his time in Washington, D.C. gave him a glimpse into the importance of conducting and presenting research in way that aligns with policy needs. It’s an idea that reinforces the institute’s mission to develop science-driven solutions for problems impacting the long-term economic and environmental sustainability of the Gulf of Mexico.
“It’s not changing the science; it’s changing how it’s packaged so that it doesn’t just sit on a shelf somewhere,” Yoskowitz said. “That’s the experience I took home, and I think it will be a benefit to HRI and the University.”