Posted by Alex  •  Comments  • 

I was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1987. At age 5, my family moved to the northwest suburb of Blue Bell, PA. From an early age I was fascinated by weather. Every day after school, I would watch the Weather Channel. I enjoyed tracking weather systems as they moved across the country and approached my hometown in Pennsylvania. My favorite time of year was winter. Winter storms were the best to follow because they could potentially bring a "snow day." I will never forget January 1996. The Blizzard of '96 dropped 30 inches of snow where I lived. It was unbelievable. I remember looking outside and not being able to find our car. Best of all, school was closed for a week.

By eighth grade, I was giving serious thought to meteorology as a career. In my earth sciences class, we studied the science of weather. I learned about the types of weather observations conducted by meteorologists. Inspired by this, I started my own form of weather observations. I kept a weather journal and recorded daily reports of temperature, precipitation, and cloud cover. At the same time each day, I recorded the observations in my journal. After several weeks, I would flip through the pages looking for trends and patterns in the weather data. Then I would make a weather forecast. For me, keeping a weather journal was one of my favorite hobbies.

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    Presenting a poster at the 2009 AMS Annual Meeting in Phoenix, AZ.

After high school, I enrolled at Penn State University, where I majored in meteorology. I became involved in the Campus Weather Service, which is the largest student-run weather organization in the country. As a member, I developed weather forecasts for the student newspaper, The Daily Collegian. In addition, I was a member of Penn State's local branch of the American Meteorological Society (PSUBAMS). Membership afforded me the opportunity to give oral presentations at AMS Annual Meetings in New Orleans and Phoenix. Aside from involvement in weather-related organizations, I volunteered as an organizer for THON (a student-run pediatric cancer philanthropy), stage crew member for Eisenhower Auditorium, and team manager for Penn State's basketball team.

I benefited from summer internship opportunities while at Penn State. In 2008, I interned at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA. Under the guidance of research scientist Dr. Chip Trepte, our team analyzed several data products for the CALIPSO satellite mission. I developed a Google Earth animation showing the back-trajectory of Saharan air layer dust. My team presented the results of the study at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. In 2009, I returned to NASA to participate in the LARSS internship program under research scientist Dr. John J. Murray. I researched the impacts to aviation resulting from the eruption of the Alaskan volcano, Mt. Redoubt. Through dispersion analysis, I tracked the spatial distribution of the ash cloud through time. I plotted the results in Google Earth to show where the ash cloud crossed paths with commercial aircraft flights. The publication earned recognition in 2010 as the ARAM Best Student Paper at the AMS Annual Meeting in Atlanta, GA.

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    Visiting Machu Picchu while studying abroad in Peru.

Interdisciplinary projects have allowed me to travel to exotic locations. In May 2008, I conducted a 12-day field project in Iceland. I researched the implications of a volcanic eruption on transatlantic air travel. The project took me to the base of several active volcanoes, including Eyjafjallajökull, which erupted in April 2010 and disrupted air traffic over most of Northern Europe. In addition, I performed field work on glaciers, using lidar, GPS, and seismometers to measure the depth, composition, and flow speeds of glaciers. The following year, I traveled to Peru to study localized climate change in the Amazon rainforest. The interdisciplinary study focused on several communities in the Madre de Dios region. Our group conducted a survey of local communities to gain insight into the societal impacts posed by a changing climate. We analyzed rainfall, river level, and temperature data from ground stations in the rainforest. Additionally, we distributed informational brochures for resources on climate science. International experiences have taught me to appreciate the role of science from a global perspective.

My experiences as an undergrad prepared me well for post-graduate study. In 2009, I began graduate school at Texas A&M University. In the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, I focused my research on satellite remote sensing. Using data from the AIRS, CALIPSO, and CloudSat platforms, I studied the variability of satellite-derived radiances with cloud type. The results of the study were presented at the AMS Conference on Atmospheric Radiation in Portland, OR, as well as the A-Train Symposium in New Orleans, LA. In 2011, I transferred to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for graduate study in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. I am looking forward to continued academic study in the atmospheric sciences.