Staff profile: Dominick Dusseau

Dominick Dusseau is a research assistant in Woodwell’s Risk program. He analyzes data from climate models to provide decision-makers with actionable information about physical climate risk. He is most excited by Woodwell Climate’s partnerships with cities that don’t have the resources to do climate risk assessments themselves. To Dusseau, this type of work is a key part of building community climate resilience. 

Why did you pursue a career in science?

I pursued a career in science because I wanted to understand how the world works on a fundamental level. I went into climate science, in particular, because of its impacts on my home—Miami, Florida. Sea level rise is a big issue in the community where I grew up. I was surrounded by that harsh reality and I really wanted to do something about it. 

What questions does your research aim to answer?

Most of my work involves extreme precipitation and flood modeling to answer questions like: How will climate change affect society in the future and how will extreme events impact us? How will extreme events change? Where will rainfall intensify and by how much? A lot of my work focuses on identifying the communities that are really at risk, pinpointing where we are underestimating risk, and determining the best way to communicate that information to stakeholders. 

What’s your biggest challenge or obstacle?  

I always need more data—streamflow data, rainfall data, elevation data. I’m always looking for the perfect dataset to complete my flood studies, but that doesn’t exist. More personally, I find it challenging to convince people how serious climate change is. My research forces me to think about and plan for how the world is going to change dramatically, and so many people don’t understand the consequences or severity. 

What brought you to Woodwell Climate?

I first learned about Woodwell Climate in a class in college. My professor showed a video of Dr. Phil Duffy testifying before Congress, staying calm and collected while answering really tricky questions. I kept tabs on what they were doing from then on. When I heard about the Risk group, I was excited by this really unique project. We take climate science knowledge that was traditionally held in the academic world and apply it to investors, government officials, and the public. 

What makes Woodwell Climate Research Center special in the scientific community?

We’re a think tank and do a lot of academic research, but I think what we do differently is that we actually push that science into something actionable. Instead of just publishing a paper, we present research that stakeholders can actually put to use. Technical jargon and limited access to scientific journals often makes climate science inaccessible, and Woodwell Climate does a good job delivering the science to people that need it most. 

If you could work on any climate science topic outside your current research area, what would that be?

Paleo-climatology. The technology they use sounds very cool. I’d like to use their intricate methods to go back thousands of years and piece together the climate of the past.  

What’s your favorite climate-related creative work (book, movie, artwork, etc.)?

I recently saw a photograph of an iceberg in Curtis Bay by Rawlence Patchingon. It was really unique because it had an iceberg in the foreground and the background was really dark. The intense contrast reminded me of climate change in a scary sense.