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Summer 2008 Agenda | Workshop Participants

Summer 2008 WAS*IS
August 2008

WAS*IS Organizers' Biographies

Eve Gruntfest

Inventing and developing the WAS*IS movement have been the work I’ve enjoyed most in my long career.

I was a Professor of Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, CO from 1980 until 2007. My career is originally based on what we can learn from the Big Thompson Flood in Colorado. That catastrophic flash flood occurred in July 1976 and 144 people were killed. I have published widely and I am an internationally recognized expert in the specialty areas of warning system development and flash flooding. In 2008 we are wrapping up a five- year National Science Foundation project evaluating warnings for short fuse weather events, particularly tornadoes and flash floods.

As a social scientist giving many presentations to the world of engineers and physical scientists, often early career folks would tell me that they wanted to do work that integrated social science and meteorology but they didn’t know how and they didn’t know other folks who were doing that kind of work. WAS*IS recognizes the need to bring social science methods into meteorology and to develop cadre of physical scientists who understand the benefits and tools of social science.

Beginning in May 2008 I will be directing a new initiative that build on the WAS*IS movement. SSWIM stands for Social Science Woven into Meteorology.  With the expert assistance of WAS*ISers Heather Lazrus, Kim Klockow and Gina Eosco we will integrate social science into the multi-faceted National Weather Center in Norman, OK. Our project is funded jointly by University of Oklahoma and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  We are thrilled that so many meteorology students recognize the importance of including societal impacts in their work. Stay tuned for exciting news of our projects.


Julie Demuth

I am an Associate Scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Societal Impacts Program (SIP). Much of my current research is on communicating weather forecast uncertainty information, particularly the public's understanding of, use of, and preferences for uncertainty information. I'm also working on an assessment of the value of weather information to the transportation sector by evaluating its sensitivity to weather. My other research interests include whether and how people use weather information in their decision-making, what other non-weather-related factors affect decision-making, and risk communication to the public. Of course, in addition to my research, I've also had the great opportunity to work on WAS*IS for nearly the past two years! I've learned a lot during that time, and it's been such a wonderful opportunity to meet others who are passionate about the integration of meteorology and social science. Prior to my work at NCAR, I spent a couple years working in science policy in Washington, D.C. at the National Research Council's (NRC) Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (BASC) as a Program Officer where I worked on a myriad of congressionally mandated and agency-requested studies.


Jeff Lazo

I am the Director of the Collaborative Program on the Societal Impacts and Economic Benefits of Weather Information (i.e., the SIP) at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado. I am an economist with extensive experience in nonmarket valuation of environmental and natural resource commodities. I am a Colorado native, have worked as a dishwasher, parking lot attendant, and chimney sweep (all pre-grad-school), still play soccer for fun, and I like to travel.
View my Web page


Emily Laidlaw

I am an associate scientist for the Societal Impacts Program (SIP) within the Institute for the Study of Society and Environment (ISSE) at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. I manage SIP's information resources, including the Extreme Weather Sourcebook, the Societal Aspects of Weather page, and the SIP and WAS*IS Web pages, among other resources. I also manage, design and help edit SIP's Weather and Society Watch newsletter. My current research involves projects on the value of weather forecasts to U.S. economic sectors, as well as a project in conjunction with the National Weather Service examining disaster loss data collection and reporting.

I have a master’s degree in journalism with an emphasis in science/technical writing and editing from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from the University of Rochester. As you might guess from my degree combination, I believe there is a strong need for science-trained communicators who can bridge the gap between atmospheric and social science research and the policy makers, media members, and general citizens that research was intended to serve.

My past science communications work includes positions with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the University of Colorado Environmental Center. My professional writing, editing and design experience includes positions with the University of Rochester Office of Communications, the Denver Business Journal, SKI Magazine, the Fort Morgan Times, and the Hampton Group, as well as several freelance Web design projects.
View my Web page


Sheldon Drobot

I am a Research Associate with the Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research (CCAR), housed within the Aerospace Engineering Department at the University of Colorado–Boulder. My research interests lie in two geographic regions: (1) in the Arctic, I am investigating the recent decline in Arctic sea ice, and more specifically, developing seasonal forecasts of sea ice conditions; and (2) in the continental US, I am researching public decision-making in the face of hazardous weather conditions, and more specifically, assessing whether certain characteristics predispose people to make certain choices related to vehicles and hazardous weather. Before coming to CU, I worked for two years at the National Research Council's (NRC) Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (BASC) and Polar Research Board (PRB) as a Program Officer. My formal education is in geography and climatology, and I received degrees at the University of Manitoba and the University of Nebraska.


2008 Summer WAS*ISers' Biographies

Kelsey Angle

Kelsey Angle is a Forecaster with the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Springfield, MO. Kelsey is active on the GIS, Severe Weather Operations, Public, Aviation, Outreach, Spotter Training, Quality Control and Quality Assurance and Leadership teams. He is also a participant in the Department of Commerce Mentorship Program. He has completed National Incident Management Training and is a licensed amateur radio operator. Kelsey has also worked at the National Weather Service Forecast Office and the Central Pacific Hurricane Center at Honolulu, HI where he was the Storm Spotter and WSR-88D Focal Points. Kelsey has been honored with Service Awards at both offices and was a member of the staff awarded for a Bronze Emblem for severe weather warning and operations during historical flooding in Hawaii.

Prior to joining the National Weather Service, Kelsey was a meteorologist for KWCH-TV and KFDI-FM in Wichita, KS and KTKA-TV and KTPK-FM in Topeka, KS. Kelsey lead portions of live tornado coverage that was honored with a National Edward R. Murrow and 4 Regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Kelsey has been awarded the American Meteorological Seal of Approval.

Kelsey worked as a research assistant and manager of a NEXRAD level II tape library while obtaining his bachelor of science degree in meteorology at the University of Oklahoma. At NSSL, he acquired radar data of severe weather cases and scored algorithm analysis, detection and performance.

Kelsey has co-authored meteorological papers and presented at conferences. He is a member of the National Weather Association and the American Meteorological Society.
View my CV --> SOI


Deke Arndt

I joined the Oklahoma Climatological Survey (OCS) in 1994 as a graduate student and never left. My primary role as Associate State Climatologist is to provide climate services (applied research, data services, education, awareness) that help people and institutions make better climate- and weather-sensitive decisions. In many cases, I am the bridge between the latest science (with which I am incompletely fluent) and the decision-maker (with whom I am incompletely acquainted). When things go well, all three components (science, bridge and decision-maker) improve.

I am heavily involved in OCS's outreach activities, whose participants range from public safety officers to K-12 teachers to energy industry decision-makers. From 2004-2007, I served as program manager for OK-First, Oklahoma's public safety educational outreach program. OK-First now has 200+ participating agencies and 500+ trained personnel in Oklahoma and four surrounding states. I had the privilege of facilitating the spin-up of a nearly-identical program (NC-FIRST) in North Carolina. My favorite role is as author of the “OCS/Mesonet Ticker”, a daily e-publication that serves about a thousand subscribers. I work part-time as a meteorology instructor for American Military University.

My past roles include data quality assurance and applied research in drought and land-atmosphere interaction. I hold a B.S. and M.S. in Meteorology from the University of Oklahoma. I am currently a Ph.D. student in OU’s Adult & Higher Education Administration program. My dissertation work focuses on adult education and development, particularly in learning about the natural world around us.

I am excited to participate in WAS*IS to learn more about ongoing and developmental efforts in integrating what we know with what people do.
View my CV --> SOI


Joseph Bartosik

I joined WeatherBug in February 2005 and in 2006 was promoted to Senior Meteorologist focusing on weather forecasts for utility and energy companies throughout the US and Canada. I work very closely with WeatherBug Professional energy clients by providing energy-focused detailed forecasts, as well as alerting clients to tropical activity and other severe weather that may impact their area of concern. I also communicate WeatherBug forecasts through radio, video, graphics, podcasts, weather briefings, and content writing.

I graduated in May, 1999 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Meteorology from Millersville University of Pennsylvania, near Lancaster. Prior to joining WeatherBug, I started my meteorological career in the broadcasting industry, which allowed me to forecast and research a variety of weather events while working in Lancaster, PA, Abilene, TX, and Syracuse, NY. In June 2001, I earned the AMS Seal of Approval. I currently serve as Treasurer of the DC Chapter of the American Meteorological Society.

As a former TV broadcast meteorologist for 6 years, I’ve learned that the weather forecast has much more of an impact than whether someone brings an umbrella with them to work. There are times that a forecast communicated over the airwaves can be a matter of life and death. My recent experiences within the energy sector, however, has shown me how important it is to communicate risk, probabilities, and confidence to clients whose decisions could costs their companies hundreds of thousands of dollars.

I believe that my various experiences within the field of meteorology would greatly add to the discussions that take place during the WAS*IS workshop. I also feel that this would be a great opportunity for me to learn how to become a better communicator to the various clients I serve within society at large.
View my CV --> SOI


Thomas Behler

I currently am a tenured Full Professor of  Sociology at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, MI.  I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in 1975, my Masters Degree from Rutgers University in 1980, and my Ph D in Sociology from the University of Delaware in 1987.

As a sociologist, I have always been interested in how communities respond to emergencies, and what affects those responses.  For example, my Doctoral Dissertation focused on the response of a local community near the Three Mile Island Nuclear plant to the 1979 accident at that facility.

More recently, I have become actively involved in emergency preparedness and response-related concerns in both my local community, and at Ferris State University.  This involvement has become evident in my role as amateur radio emergency communications coordinator for my county;  my active role in several Local Emergency Response organizations; and my increasingly prominent role as a member of Ferris State University’s Emergency Response Team.  In addition, I have completed a wide array of training courses in emergency communications, emergency response, emergency field operations, exercise design, and the National Incident Management System (NIMS).

Within the past two years, I also have developed and offered a new course in Ferris State’s Sociology program entitled “The Sociology Of Disasters And Emergency Preparedness”.  The course has successfully been offered two times, and now is becoming a permanent part of our Sociology curriculum.

I have come to believe that the Social Sciences are filled with opportunities for integrating the science of weather forecasting, with the more social-scientific goals of research and community outreach.    I also have become  convinced that a more social-scientific approach to weather and weather forecasting can uniquely serve people with disabilities.   The disabled undoubtedly have a variety of  unique concerns when it comes to preparing for, and responding to, actual or potential severe weather situations.  I wish to more thoroughly understand and address these unique concerns in order to ensure that these “special needs” populations are adequately served when necessary.
View my CV --> SOI


Lindsay Calvert

I am currently a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay pursuing a Master’s in Environmental Science and Policy with a focus in Resource Management.  I recently completed a certificate in Emergency Management at that same institution. My thesis work is focused on how organizations perceive, assess and manage the risks of natural disasters to their organizations and communities.  I also work with the Outagamie County Emergency Management Department on a variety of grants addressing the organization of their Emergency Operations Center, emergency planning for daycares, and cooperation between the public and private sectors for planning and resource utilization.  This conference represents a great opportunity for me to learn more about the weather that affects my planning and my community and to meet and connect with people who share my interest in how these fields are intertwined. 
View my CV --> SOI


Heather Campbell

I grew up in Booker, Texas. I earned my Bachelor’s degree in meteorology from the University of Oklahoma in 2007. As an undergraduate, I worked for the Oklahoma Climatological Survey as an undergraduate research assistant. I am currently working on a Master of Science in Professional Meteorology at OU. My current work is with the Oklahoma Climatological Survey, and my graduate research will be analyzing how well Oklahoma handles drought. I am very interested water resources sustainability and the policies that surround water allocations to cities and states. I believe training in the WAS*IS program will allow me to communicate ideas more effectively to community leaders, policy makers, and researchers. Outside of meteorology, I enjoy swimming, playing tennis, and reading.
View my CV --> SOI


Elisabeth Cohen

Lis Cohen teaches the Climate Change course at the University of Utah.  She also taught the Severe and Unusual Weather course at the University of Utah in the fall. Lis is finishing her masters degree in meteorology in July at the University of Utah. Her focus is clouds' effects on climate.  You can you hear Lis speak about weather and climate on KCPW, Salt Lake City's NPR affiliate.  Lis writes a monthly column for the Satellite Educator's Newsletter.  She recently participated in the Tropical Warm Pool International Cloud  Experiment (TWP-ICE) in Darwin, Australia.   Lis' bachelor's degree was earned at Cornell University where she double majored in Atmospheric Science and the Science of Earth Systems with a Climate Dynamics concentration. While at Cornell, Lis worked on the  Mars Exploration Rovers and taught about the mission.

Lis was a National Science Foundation GK-12 WEST Fellow for two years. She taught in the Salt Lake City School District as a visiting scientist. Lis worked in the Meteorology Education and Training Center at the University Corporation of Atmospheric Research (UCAR) during the summer of 2005 working on both a community hurricane preparedness and hurricane strike module. At the Museum of Science in Boston and the Franklin Institute Science Museum Lis worked as a weather and science educator, presenter, and exhibit planner.  She worked as an educator and meteorologist at the Blue Hill Weather Observatory for two years.   Lis shares her passion for science and the outdoors and did so while working as a naturalist ranger in Yellowstone National Park for two summers.

Currently, Lis is the columnist for the monthly Satellite Educator's Newsletter.  She writes about current topics in science and education.  Lis recently starred in a mastercard priceless ad. In the ad she is the scientist describing the science behind the priceless snow in Utah.

Lis is interested in doing interdisciplinary work relating to climate change and society.  She is interested in meeting others that share an interest for interdisciplinary work as well as learn some methods for doing this effectively.
View my CV --> SOI


Jill Coleman

As a geographer, I have been very interested in topics that examine the interaction between the physical and social sciences and the WAS-IS workshop is a perfect opportunity for me to improve upon and expand those interests.  My research emphasis is in applied climatology, specifically examining the relationship between the atmospheric environment and the biosphere.  For example, my dissertation focused on human mortality rate changes associated with synoptic scale atmospheric circulation variability in the central United States.  I received my Ph.D. and M.A. from The Ohio State University and B.A. from the University of Missouri-Columbia, all in geography.  I am now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography at Ball State University in Muncie, IN where I teach courses on synoptic meteorology, atmospheric thermodynamics, atmospheric hazards, and weather analysis, to name a few.
View my CV --> SOI


Renee Curry

My interest in meteorology stems from growing up on a family farm in South Dakota.  I then made the move to Oklahoma to follow my dream of studying meteorology.   For my undergraduate degree, I majored in meteorology with honors (cum laude) at the University of Oklahoma with minors in math and hydrologic science.  I spent six months of my B.S. degree studying at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom.    My Master's research at the University of Oklahoma is a continuation of research that began during a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program.   This research is a dual-Doppler radar study of a landfalling hurricane (Isabel) that came ashore in North Carolina in 2003.  Two mobile radars, the Shared Mobile Atmospheric Research and Teaching Radars (SMART-Rs), were utilized to measure the three-dimensional wind.  These radars collected data of the small-scale structures within hurricanes that can be used in models to improve flood forecasts.

I have also been involved in national and international field projects with these radars.    I have worked on a couple of field projects involving the National Severe Storm Laboratory (NSSL) and will be involved in a large field program named VORTEX-2 in Summer 2009.  In the summer of 2007,  our radar group was involved in the NASA Tropical Composition, Cloud and Climate Coupling (TC4) project that was based in Costa Rica.

To combine my interests in radar meteorology and the social sciences, I will be teaching a radar workshop this summer (2008) to high school teachers in conjunction with EarthStorm of the Oklahoma Climatological Survey.   Attending WAS *IS will help me further understand my career interest in learning how to be an effective liaison between the scientific community and those outside of it.  Outside of meteorology, I love to sing, play golf, read, travel, and spend time with my amazing family and friends.
View my CV --> SOI


Jeral Estupinan

I am the Science and Operations Officer (SOO) at the Brownsville Weather Forecast Office. I love this job since I love science and teaching. As the SOO, I ensure that the forecast staff of our office uses the best of science in our forecast operations. Prior to my present job, I worked at the Weather Channel behind the scenes working with weather forecasters and developers with the goal of improving the accuracy of the forecasts. My background is diverse and also multicultural. I am originally from the Canary Islands, Spain. I came to the United States to initiate my education in Meteorology. I have always being interested in research and meteorological operations. I initiated my education in Meteorology in North Carolina State University where I completed my B.S. and M.S. in Meteorology. At this time I also had the opportunity to work for the Environmental Protection Agency studying the effects of clouds and haze on solar UV radiation. I continued my education in Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology where I completed my Ph.D. in Atmospheric Sciences. During this time I worked at the Weather Channel doing forecast verification and researching the best forecast techniques for the Weather Channel forecasters through the development of real-time verification tools. While at the Weather Channel I became very interested trying to understand how the general public consumes weather information (terminology, accuracy, warnings, watches, etc). The combination of living in Brownsville and WAS*IS provides the unique opportunity to study the cultural differences that exist in the consumption of weather information between Spanish speakers and English speakers at the Rio Grande Valley in Deep South Texas. I am interested in attending WAS*IS because of its multidisciplinary goals in understanding the relationships between societies and weather.
View my CV --> SOI


Donna Franklin

I work at the National Weather Service (NWS) where I work closely with the NWS national warning coordination meteorologist to improve resources and information for our great field warning coordination meteorologists.  Among many other things, I coordinate the StormReady program, serve as the NWS lightning safety program leader, and I’ve worked on lots of joint projects with other federal agencies, non profit organizations, academia and the emergency management community. Prior to coming to the NWS, I worked on the “wet side” of NOAA and Capitol Hill.  I have a B.S. degree in business from Marymount University, VA.  I landed in the NWS rather accidentally and I’ve grown to love all things weather.  I think there’s an opportunity for NWS to more effectively market all the great services and products it provides to society.  I’m excited to participate in the 2008 WAS*IS workshop.  I look forward to the opportunity to network and collaborate with other people interested in integrating social science into the Weather Enterprise!  In particular, I want to gain some social science insight and tools to improve the effectiveness of StormReady, outreach materials and the lightning safety awareness campaigns.
View my CV --> SOI


Nate Johnson

You could say that my career has brought me full circle. I hope I still have most of my working years ahead of me, so I’m still not sure what to make of this realization. So far, though, it’s been a fun ride.

That ride began at NC State University in Raleigh, NC, where I received degrees in computer science and meteorology. While there, I worked with a research group conducting real-time mesoscale modeling of the southeastern US, resurrected a student-led forecasting operation for the campus newspaper and radio stations, did some independent research on the NWS Modernization of the 1990s, and interned across the street (literally) at WRAL-TV.

The next stop was as a meteorologist (and eventually, chief meteorologist) at KTXS-TV in Abilene, TX. I spent six years there, including many sleepless nights of weather coverage of severe storms, floods, winter weather, and even the occasional hurricane or tropical storm.

Then, I stepped behind the camera to take a position with Baron Services. Much of my work centered around developing user-centered data products designed to enable people to quickly assess a weather situation and make decisions without needing to be a meteorologist themselves. I also did some miscellaneous research, second-tier technical support, and client training. It was after one of those training trips that I was considered for, and eventually accepted, a position with WRAL-TV, back home in Raleigh – completing the circle.

Among other things, my work at WRAL includes collaborating with the meteorologists and other newsroom staff to make sure that we’re presenting the weather in a way that is interesting, informative, and understandable. That work necessarily includes grappling with the issues of how people receive and interpret that weather information – everything from lazy weekend weather to urgent weather alerts. Arguably this is the single most important public service that television stations provide, and it’s critical that we get it right.
View my CV --> SOI--> Web


Kimberly Klockow

I graduated from Purdue University (Boiler Up!) in May 2006 with degrees in Economics and Synoptic Meteorology.  I began the research process in 2004 in an REU program at NSSL (National Severe Storms Lab), working on a study of economic impacts of tornadoes in Oklahoma (changes in consumption).  I built on this work in a senior thesis in 2006, looking at changes in financial distress in OK and TX.  That fall, I came to grad school at the University of Oklahoma to begin my thesis work looking at economic and social impacts of the Oklahoma Mesonet enterprise.  I have also been involved in two side projects while at OU: working with Randy Peppler to do a case study on OU meteorologists (theoretically a 'weather salient' group) who traveled to AMS 2007 through an ice storm: gauging their perceived risks/information used to assess risk/actions taken... and a project with the political science department gauging what people believe about climate change based on their political affiliation: matching perceptions with the climate reality of their local area.  I am coming to WAS*IS because the nature of the work I want to do is very cross-disciplinary (perhaps an obvious statement!), and I would love to be connected to a community of people who are mixing social sciences into meteorology.  It can be a strange an unbounded thing, and finding more people with understanding/expertise in both areas will just be exciting.  There's a world of interesting/fun work to be done, and I look forward to seeing what everyone is up to!
View my CV --> SOI


Joseph Koval

Growing up, I knew that I wanted to study meteorology and I enrolled at Penn State University, graduating with my B.S. degree in 1998. Under the presumption that I would follow a career in operational forecasting or research, I continued on to graduate school in pursuit of my M.S. in meteorology, also at Penn State. While in graduate school, I worked for the Weather Communications Group, an organization of several meteorologists who, among other duties, prepares the weather page for The New York Times each day. This was my first exposure to professional operational forecasting, and while I enjoyed immersing myself in the weather, I felt that I could eventually become bored with the routine that operational forecasting involves. At the same time, I was deciding upon a thesis topic and my advisor, Dr. George Young, presented to me an idea that coupled meteorology, scientific computing and the Internet, and how to integrate these three areas into a course that teaches meteorology students how to develop a web-centric weather data processing system from start to finish. This idea intrigued me and I committed to the project, knowing that I had a steep learning curve ahead of me as I taught myself how to become a proficient computer programmer. We developed the course and taught it during the spring semester of my second year in graduate school. I enjoyed the experience and developing weather systems so much that I decided to pursue a career in this area.

Thus, after earning my M.S. in summer of 2000, I came to Atlanta to work at The Weather Channel, specifically for for a year. I then moved to the group that I currently work for, Weather Systems. In this capacity, I am responsible for leading and participating in the development of weather forecasting systems at the Weather Channel. This includes TWC’s ingest and use of numerical model guidance and research and development of new applied meteorological techniques. I also co-developed the Weather Channel’s forecast verification system and have an interest in forecast verification and how it relates to the public.

I am excited to attend WAS*IS and am looking forward to exchanging ideas on many topics, including man-machine mix in the forecast process, forecast verification and its utility to the public, as well as probabilistic forecasting.
View my CV --> SOI


Kelly Mahoney

My name is Kelly Mahoney, and I am currently working toward my PhD in Atmospheric Science at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC. My research interests are largely motivated by practical and applied questions geared toward improving forecasts of severe or high-impact weather. The research that I am currently working on for my dissertation examines the impact that convective momentum transport has on the speed at which mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) move; because MCSs are often accompanied by severe or high-impact weather such as strong winds, hail, and isolated tornados, the speed and manner in which they evolve and move is a significant public concern. My dissertation project was motivated by earlier work that I did in cooperation with National Weather Service forecasters in the Southeast US to examine large precipitation forecast errors in our region. I also have various other experiences and interests in trying to effectively communicate weather and science information through teaching and television news, and I hope to improve these skills by developing a more complete understanding of the human response to weather. Thus, I am very much interested in the human impact that weather and weather forecasts can pose, and the psychological processes and sociological considerations that affect humans and the human response in such events – it is for these reasons that I am very much looking forward to becoming a part of WAS-IS this summer.
View my CV --> SOI


Kodi Nemunaitis

I am a Graduate Research Assistant for the Oklahoma Climatological Survey at the University of Oklahoma (OU), where I am studying the surface energy balance in urban and rural environments.  After serving as a Teaching Assistant for introductory meteorology courses, I received my MS in Meteorology at OU in December 2003.  Prior to moving to Oklahoma, I received my BS in Meteorology/Climatology at the University of Nebraska in 2001.

While my background is primarily in meteorology, my interests in policy and societal impacts have grown significantly since attending the AMS Summer Policy Colloquium.  Since then, I have visited the offices of legislators at the Oklahoma State Capitol on behalf of the Oklahoma Mesonet and organized a brown bag lunch series with OU’s Department of Political Science to integrate meteorology, political science, and social science.  I hope that WAS*IS will help me establish relationships with social scientists and integrate social science into my research in ways that benefit society.
View my CV --> SOI


Daniel Nietfeld

Daniel Nietfeld is currently the Science and Operations Officer (SOO) at the NOAA National Weather Service (NWS) WFO in Omaha-Valley, Nebraska, where his primary responsibilities include managing the training and research programs, as well as ensuring scientific and technical quality in NWS products and services. 

Mr. Nietfeld was born and raised in Grand Island, Nebraska, and received his B.S. from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln (UNL) in Meteorology.   He entered the NWS in Neenah, Wisconsin as a Meteorologist Intern (May 1991).    He has worked in the NWS offices in Grand Island, Nebraska, Topeka, Kansas, Hastings, Nebraska, and became the SOO in the Omaha WFO in May of 2001.   In addition to his NWS career, Daniel teaches the “Severe Storms” meteorology class at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln (UNL), and also serves as the President-Elect of the UNL Alumni Advisory Board.  

Daniel has been a member of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) for 17 years, and served on the AMS Board for Operational Government Meteorologists (BOGM) for 7 years (1998-2005), including one year as the BOGM Chair (2003).    As BOGM Chair, he served on the AMS Professional Affairs Committee.   He currently serves on the AMS Ad-Hoc Committee on Uncertainty in Forecasts.   Locally, Mr. Nietfeld was the President of the Omaha-Offutt Chapter of the AMS in 2006-2007, and was the Vice President of the Omaha-Offutt Chapter during the 2002-2003 term.    In addition, he has served as the Vice President for the High Plains Chapter of the AMS (1999-2001).

Daniel became highly interested in WAS*IS after serving on two NWS Service Assessment Teams;  Hurricane Charley in 2004, and the Super Tuesday Tornado Outbreak from February 2008.   Daniel hopes to become saturated in the societal impacts component of weather and climate, and make the necessary connections with other professionals to pursue societal impact avenues. 


Shanna Pitter

Curiosity and the search for knowledge about the world we live in has been a driving passion in life. However, it took Hurricane Gilbert devastating my home country of Jamaica in 1988 to focus my curiosity on meteorology. Throughout my short career, I have found myself interested in various aspects of meteorology, from the acquisition of meaningful data to researching various phenomena to forecasting. My studies at Iowa State University led to an undergraduate degree in Meteorology and a mathematics minor. During that time, I had several opportunities to do research during the school year, including on the Project to Intercompare Regional Climate Simulations (PIRCS) studying snow characteristics in the models and using satellite retrieved data. As a Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Research and Science (SOARS) protégé, I did research on hurricanes and radar-retrieved hurricane products at NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division in Miami as well as snow characteristics in Global Climate Models (GCM) at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder during the summers. My MS degree in Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University allowed me to learn about satellite remote sensing and do research on retrieving cloud liquid water, column water vapor, and near surface wind speed using a satellite microwave sensor.

Upon graduation, I worked with Itri Corporation as a subcontractor to Lockheed Martin on the Preliminary Design and Risk Reduction phase of the Geostationary Observing Environmental Satellite R series (GOES-R). There I was exposed to the practices of industry and the workings of the acquisition of a major satellite system for the United States. The experience has taught me know to apply my knowledge to serving the greater community rather than for the pursuit of knowledge and opened my eyes to effectively transferring information and knowledge to the society at large. With my current contract with NOAA through the IMSG Corporation, I am in a position to impact NOAA’s planning of future activities and I feel it is important that all activities should be clearly structured with direct applicability to societal benefit. NOAA is a service organization, and with my experience in WAS*IS, I hope to aid NOAA to develop new meaningful projects as well as show the benefits and impacts of its current suite of services.
View my CV --> SOI


Aisha Reed

I am a native of Mississippi.  I attended Jackson Sate University where I obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Meteorology. I contributed to research projects on a number of topics ranging from extreme precipitation and temperature events to fire weather. As a result, I was able to travel to various conferences where I was able to present my research, and I was listed as a co-author on a paper.  Additionally,  I was a 2000 SOARS protégé, where I performed research on the prediction of extreme precipitation events in Southeast Brazil.  I wrote a technical paper on this research, and went on to present this research at the 2000 National Technical Association where I won First Place for Student Technical Research.

I began graduate school at Purdue University in 2003, where I ultimately received a Master of Science in Atmospheric Science in 2006.  For my thesis, I made a climatology and hazard analysis of cool season tornadoes in Mississippi.  Additionally, while at Purdue, I was afforded the opportunity to explore different opportunities.  I participated in a summer program at the National Center for Atmospheric Research on Climate Change in 2004 and Health and a NASA-sponsored summer program at the College of Charleston on geospatial techniques in 2005.  I was also an Executive Vice President and Treasurer Intern that worked with the Purdue Terrestrial Observatory on using remote sensing for disaster management and emergency response.  

Upon graduating from Purdue, I became a 2006-2007 Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Congressional Fellow.  I worked in Rep. Bennie Thompson’s (MS-02) office on a variety of issues including emergency management and energy and environment.  I wrote a policy paper, policy brief, and an opposite-editorial article; and organized and moderated an issue forum/Congressional briefing on emergency management in marginalized communities.  During the summer of 2007, I worked on the House Committee on Homeland Security.

Currently, I work part-time as an Aide/Tutor with the U.S. House of Representatives Congressional Page Program.  Starting in June, I will begin an internship with the Library of Congress’s Congressional Research Services, where I will perform research on weather/natural hazards and policy.
View my CV --> SOI


Thomas Sabbatelli

I am currently entering my fifth and final year of an integrated B.S./M.S. degree program in meteorology at Penn State University. Upon enrolling at Penn State, I initially explored the meteorology department’s weather communications and forecasting concentration. While it was fun working in front of the camera, I later realized the forecasting was not my true calling. Yet, researching and communicating the weather in a manner that benefits society has always been at the forefront of my interests. My current research with Dr. Michael Mann develops a statistical model to enhance the quality of long-term Atlantic tropical cyclone prediction using climate state variables.

The most professionally-inspiring opportunity I’ve had was a summer internship at the NOAA Integrated Data and Environmental Applications (IDEA) Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. My main objective was to assist in the development of the center’s flagship Pacific Region Integrated Climatology Information Products (PRICIP) project. The first phase of PRICIP is a web-based portal designed to present detailed climatological and socio-economic data within the context of historic Pacific natural hazard events in an effort to educate decision makers and the public about coastal resilience. Frequent interaction over the course of the summer with experts in a variety of fields – including meteorology, social science, coastal services, and engineering – solidified my interest in a future career assessing natural hazards, societal impact, and community resilience.
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Aaron Sutula

As a young, ambitious, and slightly confused high school graduate, I actually began college at the University of Northern Colorado as a music major studying classical guitar performance. The my enjoyment of music was dampened by the academic version of music, and after a short time I changed majors. With no previous knowledge of the existence of meteorology as a major, I stumbled across some 101 level classes and one thing led to another. A year at Montana State University and three years at the University of Utah later I graduated with a degree in meteorology and a job with the National Weather Service (NWS). My time at the NWS has been very valuable. I began as a summer student employee at the forecast office in Juneau, Alaska where I got an introduction to weather forecasting. From there, I worked as a student employee at NWS Western Region Headquarters (WRHQ) in Salt Lake City, Utah doing web development. Upon graduation, I continued at WRHQ working with verification of our grid based digital forecasts. I soon became interested in development of technology within the NWS. My latest work involves development of storage and processing of geo-spatial data as well as delivering NWS products to customers via mobile technology (cell phones, text message, etc.). WAS*IS contributes to advancement in an area that the NWS has always been lacking. We have so much information that has very high potential value to our customers. That information is only as effective as the means we use to distribute it. I feel that the NWS can improve by gaining a better understanding of exactly what it's customer's needs are and how they most efficiently interpret our information. I look forward to working with others in WAS*IS to develop a solution that will advance the NWS in terms of product generation and dissemination.
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Roger Turner

Roger Turner is a Ph.D. Candidate in the History and Sociology of Science Department at the University of Pennsylvania. He’s been studying connections between weather and society since 1999, when he began an undergraduate thesis on the politics of hail suppression in rural America. By comparing a 1960s episode in central Pennsylvania to a late 1990s episode in Western Kansas, he found that trust relationships were central to the acceptance or rejection of a scientifically controversial environmental technology.

His Ph.D. dissertation examines how scientific conceptions of the upper atmosphere changed as a result of the development of flight in the first half of the 2oth century. Physics-based models of the atmosphere developed by the Bergen School were incorporated into airline and military operations, and became essential to making flight the safe, reliable part of the transportation and defense infrastructure that it is today. He also shows how US military needs for a portable weather forecasters during World War II supported aspirations towards the family of numerical simulations that we use daily forecasting and understanding climate change today.

A third project explores the development of the television weather report. Inspired by military training techniques, the earliest American weathercasters used comic art to connect with their viewers in the late 1940s and 1950s. To the chagrin of many meteorologists, this created the impression that the weather report was unimportant, and many TV station managers spun the weather as entertainment, not informational. This helped give rise to the alluring “Weathergirls” of the 1950s, and indirectly, to a set of professional certification procedures that contributed to the under-representation of women in professional meteorology.
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Christopher Vaccaro

Chris is a public affairs specialist with the Office of Communications at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in downtown Washington, DC. He conducts media relations on behalf of all NOAA issues – including oceans, fisheries, weather, satellites and research – and in support of the NOAA Administrator and other senior leadership. Prior to joining NOAA, Chris was Assistant Weather Editor at USA Today in McLean, Va., working with Weather Editor Jack Williams in generating exclusive weather- and environment-related news content for the print, electronic and broadcast units of USA Today with the intent of educating the public about atmospheric science.

Other professional jobs and internships that Chris has held include forecasting at Metro Weather Services in Valley Stream, N.Y., interning at the National Weather Service forecast office in Upton, N.Y., and working as weather producer at cable news station News 12 Long Island.

Chris was able to marry his interests in the atmospheric sciences and communications professionally through a similarly diverse formal education. Chris earned a Masters in Communications from the University of Oklahoma and a Bachelors from Lyndon State College with a concentration in Meteorology and Social Science. He also holds an Associates in Physical Science from Nassau Community College on Long Island, N.Y.


Melissa (Melvin) Widhalm

My name is Melissa Widhalm (formally Melvin). I’m a PhD student in the School of Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) specializing in Human Dimensions as well as Climate Assessment ad Impacts.  I do most of my research with the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC) and the focus of my dissertation is local-level drought planning. While my current and recent past research has focused on various aspects of drought mitigation and planning, I’m also quite interested in the societal impacts of other natural hazards along with methods to increase social preparedness. My desire to study the interactions between weather and society began long before I obtained my undergraduate degree in meteorology from Northern Illinois University 2004. However, it was my master’s degree experience at UNL that really made me realize my passion for this interdisciplinary field. I’m excited to participate in the WAS*IS workshop this August, and I anticipate networking with a wide range of scientist who will each have a unique perspective on weather and society.
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Monica Zappa

I am a graduate student working towards a M.S. degree in geography at Northern Illinois University, where I currently work as a teaching and research assistant.  I received my meteorology and mass communications degrees from St. Cloud Minnesota, as I was planning to become a broadcast meteorologist. While my plans have changed significantly, this background has helped me to realize the importance of communicating and educating the general public about weather related events. Over the past year, I have worked on research involving social changes that New Orleans has undergone since Hurricane Katrina. This research has most specifically focused on labor contractor recruiting, Latino migrant workers, and construction industry wage rates in post-Katrina New Orleans. My current research is focusing on social, economic, and political factors which increase human vulnerability to hurricanes in Bluefields, Nicaragua. This research also incorporates the efficiency of mitigation and evacuation practices in impoverished and secluded Central American communities. Teaching general education meteorology classes this year has also been an important part of my graduate work. These experiences have steered me into the direction of academia and education, where the importance of incorporating social aspects in to meteorology will certainly be a high priority.
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Jennifer Zeltwanger

As a kid growing up in central Wisconsin, I was always fascinated by the weather, especially severe thunderstorms.  I became even more interested after a weather unit in a junior high Earth science class.  So when it came time to tackle the all important “what are you going to do for the rest of your life?” question, I wasn’t all that surprised to find myself turning to meteorology as a career. 

After four challenging (but also very fun!) years at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, I graduated with a degree in Atmospheric and Oceanic Science.  My ultimate goal was to work for the National Weather Service.  I began my internship in Elko, Nevada before moving on to a General Forecaster, then Lead Forecaster position in Glasgow, Montana.  While in Nevada, I got my first exposure to the concept of fire weather and an introduction to the Incident Meteorologist (IMET) program in the National Weather Service…and I was hooked!  IMETs are mobile meteorologists that can be deployed to any large incident, such as a wildfire, chemical spill, or oil spill, in order to provide specialized onsite weather support to responders and planners.  Upon moving to Montana, I was offered an opportunity to become an Incident Meteorologist which I was happy to accept.  Being an IMET has been some of the hardest work I have done, but it has been incredibly rewarding because of the direct interaction you get with your end user.  You knew your forecast was getting used to make important decisions that could possibly save lives, so it was through this experience that I started to think about the social side of weather.

After nearly 5 years in Glasgow, I became a Warning Coordination Meteorologist (WCM) in Aberdeen, South Dakota.  In a nutshell, a WCM focuses on office outreach and safety education as well as customer service.  The WCM also is the liaison for important partners like emergency managers and the media.  With an emphasis on customer service and partner interaction, I have become even more interested in the social science part of weather.  Why do people remain unprepared for bad weather?  How can we get people involved and get them to take warnings more seriously?  It seems like there are more questions than answers sometimes, and WAS*IS can help with such a daunting task that requires more than just meteorologists to address.
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