Kelvin K. Droegemeier was born in Ellsworth, Kansas and earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees, respectively, from the University of Oklahoma and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He joined the University of Oklahoma, Norman, faculty in 1985.
In 1989, Droegemeier co-founded the NSF Science and Technology Center for the Analysis and Prediction of Storms and directed it from 1994-2006. He now is director emeritus. In 2003, he co-founded and presently served for six years as deputy director of the NSF Engineering Research Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere. He also founded and served as director of the Sasaki Institute, a non-profit organization at the University of Oklahoma that fosters the development and application of knowledge, policy, and advanced technology for the mutual benefit of the government, academic and private sectors.
Droegemeier’s research involves the dynamics and predictability of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. He helped pioneer the science of storm-scale numerical weather forecasting, leading the early development of the world’s first atmospheric computer model capable of assimilating Doppler radar and other data for explicitly predicting high-impact local weather such as individual thunderstorms. In 1997, he received the Discover Magazine Award for Technology Innovation and his NSF center was awarded theComputerworld-Smithsonian Award that same year. In 2000, Droegemeier received the NSF Pioneer Award. Droegemeier has authored over 75 refereed journal articles and book chapters and more than 200 conference publications.
High performance computing has played a key role in Droegemeier’s career as an educator and scientist, and during the past decade he helped establish two supercomputing centers at the University of Oklahoma and served on NSF’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Cyberinfrastructure. He led an NSF Large Information Technology Research grant – Linked Environments for Atmospheric Discovery (LEAD) – that developed web service architectures to enable researchers, students, and atmospheric models and sensing systems to interact dynamically with the weather as it evolves.
Droegemeier also is heavily involved in creating research alliances among academia, government and industry, having led a partnership with American Airlines that in 2000 resulted in him starting a private weather technology company, Weather Decision Technologies, Inc (WDT). WDT now employs more than 70 people and has offices in the US and abroad. He initiated and led the Collaborative Radar Acquisition Field Test (CRAFT), a national project directed toward developing strategies for the real time delivery of NEXRAD Doppler weather radar data via the Internet. This award-winning effort transformed the manner in which the National Weather Service provides time- critical radar data to industry, resulting in entirely new product lines and services for end users. As Chairman of Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry’s Weather and Climate Team, Droegemeier helped develop a strategy for economic development and is working at both local and national levels to grow the private weather enterprise.
Droegemeier has served as a consultant to Honeywell Corporation, American Airlines, Continental Airlines, and the National Transportation Safety Board. A Fellow of the American Meteorological Society, he is former Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research and a Director of the Norman, Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce. In 2004, he was elected a Councilor in the American Meteorological Society. Droegemeier presently serves on the Board of Directors of Oak Ridge Associated Universities, Oak Ridge Associated Universities Foundation, and the Council on Governmental Relations. He also is a Trustee of Southeastern Universities Research Association.
Droegemeier was appointed to the National Science Board in 2004 and 2011.
He was elected as Vice-Chairman in 2012.