Peter Backlund

Associate Director

School of Global Environmental Sustainability

Fields of Expertise

Climate Science, Policy

Areas of Interest

Relationships between human activities and environmental changes, Assessment of climate change impacts, vulnerabilities, and response strategies, Use of scientific research for decision-making and public policy


Peter Backlund has devoted his career to the planning, management and leadership of complex research organizations. He was part of the leadership team of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) from 2001-2013, where he led strategic planning, oversaw relationships with sponsors and other research organizations, and developed a series of interdisciplinary projects that combined atmospheric, social, health, ecological, and hydrological science. Before joining NCAR, Peter was a senior advisor in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy from 1995-2001, where he focused on climate change science, assessment and policy; evaluation, planning, and coordination of environmental science programs and budgets; and communication of environmental science and technology issues to senior officials, industry, the academic community, the public, and the Congress. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He also helped manage Earth science activities at NASA HQ from 1991-1995, contributing to development of the Earth Observing System (EOS) and other projects with Japan, Germany, Great Britain, France, Italy, India, Brazil, Australia, Canada, Russia, ESA, EUMETSAT, and the United Nations. From 1988-1991, Peter held positions with SM Systems Research Corporation, LRS Associates, and Science Applications International Corporation, where he supported NASA and other agencies.