With nearly 35 years of professional experience, Julianna O. Thomas has leveraged the skills and expertise gained during this time as a program manager and principal investigator of the coastal data information program at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography of the University of California San Diego since 2001. Since 1976, when she started at Scripps, there have been many changes. Prior to the age of the computer, they would bring in real-time data through a shore station consisting of a hand-soldiered circuit board and acoustic modems. The invention of the computer, internet and satellite communications has revolutionized the process of data collection. In addition to her primary roles, Ms. Thomas served as director of the organization’s Ocean Observing Initiative and cyber-infrastructure operations from 2012 to 2014, as executive director of the Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System from 2008 to 2017 and program manager of the Southern California beach processes study of the Pacific Island Ocean Typhoon Program from 2001 to 2011.
Ms. Thomas was inspired to pursue a career in the field from an early age, and she was further encouraged by a four-month sailing trip she took with her husband. She first pursued an education at San Diego State University, earning a Master of Arts in French literature in 1971. She continued her studies with the school, completing postgraduate coursework in mathematics, science and programming from 1976 to 1995. Also aiding in her professional development, Ms. Thomas is a member of the American Geophysical Union.
A respected voice in her areas of interest, Ms. Thomas has been affiliated with a number of professional organizations. A member of the hydrographic services review panel at the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration, she has served on the decadal survey panel of the National Academy of Science and as chair of OceanSITES Data Management. Furthermore, she has served on the steering committees of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Quality Control of Real-Time Data, the Interagency Ocean Observation Commission, and the Joint Technical Commission for Oceanography and Meteorology. A skilled writer, Ms. Thomas co-authored the articles “CDIP Wave Observations in Superstorm Sandy, Shore and Beach” in 2012 and “The California Coastal Wave Monitoring and Prediction System” in Coastal Engineering in 2016, as well as the chapter “How High-Resolution Wave Observations and HF Radar-Derived Surface Currents Are Critical to Decision-Making for Maritime Operations” in “Coastal Ocean Observing Systems” in 2015.
Ms. Thomas attributes much of her success to her mentors, including Dr. Richard Seymour, the founder of the Coastal Data Information Program, and David Castel, the former program manager. She also credits her love of the water, and her vision and ability to be forward-thinking as catalysts for her occupational fortune. Ms. Thomas believes that the most rewarding aspect of her job has been seeing success stories from the work she has aided in and in the positive impact she has had on the environment.
A Marquis Who’s Who Top Professional, Ms. Thomas plans to continue to learn and about how government agencies work and affect local, state and academic research. A first-generation Welsh immigrant, she is married to her loving husband James Thomas, with whom she has raised two wonderful children, Christopher and Jennifer. She is also a doting grandmother to two beloved grandsons, Julian and Llewyn. Ms. Thomas would like to be remembered for her commitment to work she promoted through the sustained observations and high-quality data that she thinks is important right now more than ever.