Women of NSSL: Nusrat Yussouf

Nusrat Yussouf.
Nusrat Yussouf.

To celebrate Women’s History Month in March NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory is publishing a series of stories highlighting some women working at the lab. One Q&A segment will be published each Monday in March.

Nusrat Yussouf works with Warn-on-Forecast, a research program set to increase tornado, severe thunderstorm and flash flood warning lead times. Yussouf is a research scientist at the Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies supporting NSSL. She enjoys working on weather related research and Warn-on-Forecast because it has the potential to save lives.

Q: Describe the path leading up to your current job.
A: I started my career as a Research Associate with CIMMS supporting NOAA NSSL in early 2000, shortly before receiving a masters from The University of Oklahoma’s School of Computer Science. While working full time, I matriculated for a PhD in the same department. I have been working in NSSL’s Warn-on-Forecast research and development project since its inception in 2009.

Q: What is it about your job that interests you?
A: My research focuses on developing a Warn-on-Forecast system that will enable the National Weather Service to issue advisories and warnings for threats associated with high-impact weather, like tornadoes, flash floods, damaging winds, hails, etc., much earlier than is possible today. What interests me most about this work is the potential to save millions of lives, injury, and economic costs. 

Q: What is your personal philosophy?
A: My personal philosophy of life is well expressed by Edward Everett Hale,“Look up and not down. Look forward and not back. Look out and not in, and lend a hand.” 

Q: What is one thing you couldn’t live without at work?
A: Tea — my source of caffeine at work. Tea keeps me going. And it has to be made Bangladeshi style with milk and sugar!

Q: Where is your favorite place to be?
A: Disney World and Universal Orlando in Florida. Life is truly magical from the moment you set foot inside those parks. It is indeed the “Happiest Place on Earth”.

Q: What does true leadership mean to you?
A: To me true leadership means creating more leaders, not just followers.

Q: If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be?
A: If I could do another job for just one day, it would be a physician. Imagine being a doctor who is treating critically ill patients with slim chance of living. With proper medical treatment, they can give those patients another chance toward life. It is one of the most rewarding professions out there.

Q: What would you most like to tell your younger self?
A: ​I would like to tell my younger self not to be afraid of obstacles in pursuing your dream. If you are fearless, there are no limits to what you can achieve in life.

Q: What is the best book you’ve ever read?
A: It is really hard to choose the best book I’ve ever read as there are many. One book that touched my heart is A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. It is the story of the lives of two Afghan women, both married to the same abusive man during the years of the Soviet occupation, then the Taliban dictatorship.

Q: Who is your role model and why?
A: My role model is my Mom who is a retired government employee from Bangladesh. She worked for more than 30 years on formulation of policies that promote the institutionalization and development of women and children issues. I learned from her how to juggle between work and family with two kids.

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