Kirk Yedinak Receives NCCOS People Committee Peer Award for Special Achievement

August 2021

NCCOS LogoGAMA-1’s Kirk Yedinak received peer recognition from NOAA’s National Ocean Service (NOS) National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) People Committee for a team effort supporting the Pathogens Forecast Product.  Mark Mohs, NCCOS IT Manager, stated, “The team always provides a high level of support and solutions to the challenges put before them. We often take their services for granted, so it was very nice to see them receive this award and recognition during the NCCOS all-hands meeting.”

The NCCOS People Committee Nomination reads:

In 2020, the nominators for this award approached the NCCOS IT and web teams with a concept of attempting to run Pathogens forecast products on the Cloud.  We were met, as usual, with a “can do” attitude and an awareness that the specifics of the “ask” were unprecedented within NCCOS.  Task one was the development of an online calculator and associated map to reference one’s preferred location.  On the back end (generating the data), this required figuring out access for a NWS contractor to work in our cloud space, identifying and testing several strategies for ingesting data and running Python scripts, and overcoming numerous technical challenges along the way.  On the front end (web display), the team determined the most efficient mechanism to access the underlying data, developed an online calculator and user interface and linked the calculator to an interactive map.  Again, all of this was accomplished through research, trial and error, and sheer determination to complete the task.  The second product distills large amounts of satellite data from the Alaska Region, codes it to reflect distance from management thresholds, and displays the data regionally on a daily basis.  Lessons learned from the first task paved the way for this product to quickly become a reality.  Both products were completed on time and made available for stakeholder review early this spring.

The importance of this work is in the demonstration of the capability of NCCOS IT to develop, run, and disseminate forecasts and other products internally.  Ecological forecasts in NOAA generally seek to evolve to an operational system along a specified transition pathway (R2X). The limitations are that there are few operational units in NOAA, and those that do exist have other missions (Weather and Navigation).  This successful demonstration highlights the potential for “sustainable delivery” of a variety of NCCOS products in house, which may offer a reduction in cost overall and burden on operational units.

The innovation and attitude of this group is why NCCOS is a model within NOAA for Cloud technology and IT support. The nominees in this group worked closely together to overcome many hurdles and fully deserve this recognition.

Kirk proudly exclaimed, “This was a team award, and I am proud to be a part of that team!  I have been fortunate enough to work with many talented web and application developers at NCCOS.  The tools and applications we develop help coastal managers decide how best to protect environmental resources and public health.  This includes balancing society’s environmental, social, and economic goals.” 

GAMA-1’s Chief Operating Officer, Alesa Shelton, added, “Kirk has been a valuable team player to GAMA-1 for the past six years.  His skill set, passion for the NCCOS mission, and can-do attitude are what I admire most about Kirk. Congratulations on this team peer award!”