was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Her mother was a public relations expert
and a reporter. Her father was a newspaper editor. At home they encouraged
Joanna to join in their discussions and talked about all the topics of
the day. While attending a private school, Joanna displayed an early talent
for mathematics and physics.
In 1940 she graduated and went to the University of Chicago in Illinois. There she went on studying science. She became fairly interested in meteorology- the science of the earth's atmosphere, and how it changes. An important part of meteorology has to do with the weather.
Suddenly the U.S. Army during World War 2 ( 1939-45) had a need for the services of meteorologists. Bad weather was dangerous for fighter pilots and inconvenient for marching soldiers. The army therefore needed accurate weather predictions to plan it's battle strategies. Simpson was hired by the government so that she could serve as a weatherman in the field. After the war ended, Simpson returned to the University of Chicago and in 1949 she earned her Ph.D. She then continued to teach at the University of California at Los Angeles and the Illinois Institute of Technology.
After also working for the U.S. Government in a variety of posts, Simpson became a chief scientist for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1988. Simpson is now recognized as one of the world's leading authorities on wind shear- a rapid change of speed and direction of the wind. Since wind shear can interfere with plane take-offs and landings, Simpson's studies have been helping make air flight safer. Working with other meteorologists, Simpson has also observed for ways to lessen the force of hurricanes. They have experimented with dropping pellets of silver iodide smoke or dry ice, into their clouds. They hoped these substances would turn water vapor into rain and thus release some of the penned-up energy of the storm. So far these experiments have not been great, but Simpson is not let down. She continues to explore all sorts of new methods for controlling the weather.
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