AOML Oceanographer, Dr. Gustavo Goni, Retires After Over 25 Years of Federal Service 

After over 25 years of federal service as a physical oceanographer, we celebrate the career of  Dr. Gustavo Goni as he retires from NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML). Gustavo began his career at AOML in 1991 when he accepted a Research Associate position with the University of Miami’s Cooperative Institute of Marine and Atmospheric Studies. During this time, he worked alongside the then Dean of the School, Dr. Otis Brown, on ocean dynamics in the South Atlantic using satellite altimetry observations. Gustavo began his federal career with NOAA in 1997 as an oceanographer with the Physical Oceanography Division of AOML. In May 2009, he became the Director of the Division, a position he held until March 2021.

Staff page photo for Gustavo Goni of AOML.

Gustavo’s passion for oceanography started as a student in Argentina in the mid-1970s, motivating him to  earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Ocean Engineering from the Buenos Aires Institute of Technology. He received a master’s degree in Acoustics at The Pennsylvania State University as a Fellow of the Organization of American States and later  received his Ph.D. in Applied Marine Physics from the University of Miami. 

During his tenure at NOAA, Gustavo conducted research on ocean dynamics, studied the impact of ocean variability on fisheries, weather, and climate, and investigated several aspects of the recent Sargassum blooms, while leading observational efforts with eXpendable BathyThermographs (XBTs) and underwater gliders. The research he feels the proudest about are his early studies to investigate the link between the ocean and hurricane intensification. More recently, his work on Sargassum transport monitoring and research has been what has kept him energized.

Another area of Gustavo’s research focused on the variability of boundary currents using combined hydrographic observations and satellite data analysis. He was also involved in assessing changes in the Meridional Overturning Circulation in the South Atlantic using satellite altimetry data and observations from the global ocean observing system collected by Argo floats, CTDs, XBTs, surface drifters, and other instruments.

Dr. Gustavo Goni explaining Sargassum project to reviewers. Photo Credit, NOAA AOML.
Dr. Gustavo Goni explaining the Sargassum project to reviewers.
Craig McLean and Gustavo Goni with Hurricane Glider. Photo Credit: NOAA
Gustavo Goni and former assistant administrator of NOAA Research, Craig McLean, with a Hurricane Glider.

“There was, and still is, so much to learn and contribute to, this is what makes work in science exciting,” said Gustavo.

Gustavo was a leader who organized national and international meetings, and represented NOAA and the United States on several national and international panels that coordinate a wide range of global and regional oceanographic activities. He also served as the Chairman of the Ship Of Opportunity Program, whose main objective is to fulfill upper ocean observational requirements as established by the Global Climate Observing System and Global Ocean Observing System. Additionally, Gustavo published more than 200 science articles and led and/or participated in numerous funded research proposals.  

Throughout his career, Gustavo received numerous awards and honors for his work. Most recently, he received Department of Commerce Gold and Bronze Medals for his contributions to the Saildrone and Hurricane Glider projects.

When asked what he will miss most about working for NOAA, Gustavo said “The opportunity to continue growing personal and professional relationships. Working for NOAA gave me the opportunity to experience highlights that I otherwise would have never lived, such as having interacted with Desmond Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, during a cruise to South Africa; meeting the Emperor of Japan in person during a meeting conducted in Sapporo; or simply doing a high five with the Prince of Monaco and Miss France at the finish line during a marathon in Nice, where I was attending a science meeting.”

Gustavo at the Tower Bridge in London during the biannual Ship of Opportunity Program meeting

Gustavo is proud of his family that helped him during his 40+ years in the United States. Living far from one’s family is something that many cannot understand unless they have experienced it themselves.

According to Gustavo, “families are as much responsible for our success as any mentor, leader, or funding agency.

In his retirement, Gustavo is excited for the time to catch up and reconnect with friends and family in Argentina and around the world after so many years in the US. He will be also cheering from the sidelines for the success of everybody at AOML and NOAA.

“I am extremely happy to have worked at NOAA. I cannot imagine a better place to work to conduct oceanographic research. The opportunity to motivate talent and scientific curiosity by allowing scientists the freedom to conduct original research that leads to societal benefits, is among the most important aspects of the work at AOML. Collaboration with other scientists at AOML and NOAA, external non-NOAA partners, and opportunities to mentor students and early-career scientists gives NOAA researchers the chance to continuously grow and learn. I am grateful to all of my colleagues at AOML for the help, interaction, and support they have given me over the years. The teamwork at AOML is central to accomplish the world class research conducted at NOAA.” said Gustavo.

To learn more about Dr. Gustavo Goni please visit his staff webpage.