Ursula has pursued a career at the intersection of science and policy in many sectors, including NASA, the United States Senate, the advocacy non-profit world, and academia. Practising both science for policy, providing the best science for decision-makers, and policy for science, managing science budgets, portfolios, and teams, she has learned to navigate the boundary between scientists those practitioners that need data and information to successfully manage their system. She is currently at NASA Headquarters working for the Strategic Integration and Management Division of the Science Mission Directorate (SMD).
Before joining NASA, Ursula was Managing Director of Western Water Assessment (WWA), a CIRES Center, and was responsible for overall program administration and management, coordinating the research agenda and other outreach activities. Prior to joining WWA, Ursula managed regulatory policy for the oil and natural gas industry at Western Energy Alliance, and before that she was an AGI/AAAS Congressional Science Fellow in the office of former Senator Mark Udall, serving as an energy and natural resource policy aide on Capitol Hill. Ursula previously worked at CIRES as a post doctoral researcher at both the Earth Science and Observation Center (ESOC), where she researched the seasonal timing of melt on the Greenland Ice Sheet, and the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research (CSTPR), where she focused on how the media presented the science and uncertainty of sea level rise. In 2008, Ursula completed her PhD on the hydrology of meltwater in large ice sheets at the Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR) at the University of Colorado. She also has a MS in Engineering Sciences from Dartmouth College and a BS in Material Science & Metallurgical Engineering from Michigan Technological University.