Education and Experience
2013-present: Research Associate at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration via University of Colorado’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Science
1998-2013: Associate Scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO
1997-1998: Visiting Assistant Professor of Physics/Engineering, Adams State College, Alamosa, CO
1995-1997: Physics Instructor, Butler County Community College, El Dorado, KS
1994: Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
1990: M.S. in Physics from the University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
1987: B.A. in Physics from the University of Colorado, Boulder, CO
I’m fascinated by many scientific topics, from the smallest quarks to the universe itself. I want to understand how it all works and how human beings fit in. For the last twenty years or so I’ve been lucky enough to participate in a variety of atmospheric science research. This is a wonderful intersection of pure science and helping humanity.
How I became a scientist
As a girl I loved reading and my dad introduced me to science fiction. I became a scientist because of the influences of C.S. Lewis, Ursula K. Le Guin, J.R.R. Tolkien, Isaac Asimov and other authors. I found math and science to be fairly challenging in high school and college. What kept me going was the encouragement of my parents, stubbornness and a strong desire to understand the world. A lot of hard work led to success. Graduate school was phenomenal; my curiosity was matched by opportunity. I got to study all kinds of things like quarks and galaxies in research assistantships and a Department of Energy Traineeship. Since I graduated I’ve studied many fun things including extrasolar planets, ice particles in clouds, climate change, and Earth’s oceans and storms. During my journey I’ve learned all kinds of mathematics and computer skills which can be applied to any aspect of science.
How my work benefits society
Currently I’m working with NOAA’s Attribution and Predictability Assessments Team. We often study extreme weather events like the current California drought or the recent Texas flooding and try to decipher if they’re due to natural variations, anthropogenic climate change, or some combination thereof. From such information we can try to predict the likelihood and extent of extreme weather events in the future. Many different groups of people are interested in such issues from the general public (like me and you), to city planners and engineers, to water managers, to emergency responders.