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Geophysical Sciences alumna (PhD'65) and one of the first female meteorologists in the U.S.

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Among the first women in the field of meteorology, Bernice Ackerman worked many years for the U.S. Weather Bureau, today known as the U.S. National Weather Service. She made extensive contributions to the atmospheric sciences, including long-range tornado forecasting, cloud physics, weather modification, urban climate, and radar meteorology.


Bernice Ackerman’s early exposure to meteorology came as a weather observer and flight briefer for the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) during World War II. After the war, she earned a bachelor’s degree in the field from the University of Chicago in 1948, followed by a master’s in 1955 and a PhD in geophysical sciences in 1965.


She spent time with the University of Chicago’s Cloud Physics Laboratory, as faculty at Texas A&M University, and as a scientist at Argonne National Laboratory, before joining the Illinois State Water Survey at the University of Illinois in 1972. There she became head of the meteorology section, a position she held until retiring in 1988.


Born in Chicago in 1924, she died July 5, 1995, in her hometown. She was a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

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Photo Source: Courtesy Stanley Chagnon and Linda Jo Hascall 

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