Dr. Gruntfest is a research scientist at the Trauma, Health and Hazards Center at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. She is a geographer who has been working in the field of natural hazard mitigation for more than 35 years. Her career began with her Master's thesis research focused on what people did during the catastrophic 1976 Big Thompson Flood in Colorado.
She has published widely and is an internationally recognized expert in the specialty areas of warning systems, flash flooding and integrating social science into atmospheric science. She is Professor Emeritus of Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs after working as a professor in the department from 1980 until 2007. She chaired the department for four years.
From February 2010-July 2011 Dr. Gruntfest was an invited research scholar at Joseph Fourier University and the Laboratoire d'étude des Transferts en Hydrologie et Environnement in Grenoble, France. Dr. Gruntfest is serving as a member of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Science Advisory Board from 2010-2013. She is writing a textbook Weather and Society: Integrated Approaches for Wiley Blackwell.
She has served on five National Research Council committees. In 2009 Dr. Gruntfest was awarded the Kenneth E. Spengler Award from the American Meteorological Society.
Between 2008-2011 Dr. Gruntfest developed and directed an initiative called SSWIM (Social Science Woven into Meteorology, www.sswim.org) at The National Weather Center in Norman, OK. She is an adjunct faculty member in the Geography and Environmental Sustainability Program at the University of Oklahoma and is affiliated with CASA (Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere).
From 2007-2010 Dr. Gruntfest served as Chair of the American Meteorological Society Board on Societal Impacts. From 2005-2006 Dr. Gruntfest was a research scientist at NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research) in Boulder, CO. She co- founded the WAS * IS movement (Weather and Society Integrated Studies). As of 2012, there are 272 official WAS*ISers, mostly early career people who are dedicated to making meteorology more societally-relevant (www.sip.ucar.edu/wasis).
Between 2003 and 2008, Dr. Gruntfest was the principal investigator for a National Science Foundation project evaluating warnings for short-fuse weather events, particularly tornadoes and flash floods. Working with her colleague from psychology, Dr. Charles Benight, the project studied how demographic changes, new technologies and new sources of information should be reflected in warning policy. The study focused on Denver, CO and Austin, TX. Four team publications appear in Environmental Hazards (2007).
During the spring of 2003 Dr. Gruntfest was a Fulbright Scholar serving as the Distinguished Chair of Geography and University of Trieste, Italy.
In 2002, she co-edited the volume Coping with Flash Floods (Kluwer 2000) that brings together papers from leading experts who participated at the 1999 NATO Advanced Studies Institute that she organized and held in Ravello, Italy. She spent two years (1998 and 2000) as an invited senior scholar at the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.
Dr. Gruntfest has been an invited keynote speaker to many professional organizations in, and out, of the U.S. including the Association of State Floodplain Managers, the National Weather Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, COMET at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the Hydrology Department at the University of Florence and the University of Ljubljana, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, and the New Zealand Geologic and Nuclear Science group. She has been an invited expert at The Weather Channel and is featured in two flash flood documentaries including the flash flood episode of "It Could Happen Tomorrow".