Meteorology students gain experience, present research at national conference

The American Meteorological Society (AMS) held its annual meeting Feb. 2 to 6 in Atlanta. The nationally recognized conference hosted a total of 3,456 attendees and included industry professionals, scholars from various disciplines of meteorological sciences and students from 34 countries around the world, including 41 students from Penn State.

The students from Penn State’s Department of Meteorology in the College of Earth and Minerals Sciences were able to learn about other research in their field, present their research findings, and network with industry professionals and academic colleagues.

The theme of the conference was “Extreme Weather — Climate and the Built Environment: New Perspectives, Opportunities and Tools.” The conference examined weather related issues such as severe storms, droughts, floods and wildfires that caused disasters for millions of people globally and addressed societal response to these natural disasters.

"The conference was amazing,” recounted conference attendee Dakota Smith, a senior in meteorology and president of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences undergraduate student council. “During the main conference there were dozens of presentations occurring simultaneously. It was awesome. You could pick almost any topic in meteorology and find a talk to go to. I really learned a lot,” said Smith.

Three undergraduate and four graduate students presented their research, including Christopher Hanlon, doctoral candidate in meteorology, who presented “Algorithmic Decision-Making Under Weather Uncertainty in Atmospheric Science Field Campaigns: A Summary.”

Hanlon, advised by George Young and Johannes Verlinde, both professors of meteorology, and Arthur Small III, president and CEO of Venti Risk Management, discussed how using algorithmic decision-making under weather uncertainty offers added value to human forecasts, statistical forecasts and numerical weather prediction forecasts, and provides a means of integrating human forecasting knowledge with advances in computing. 

“Using automated, calibrated, probabilistic weather forecasts, automated decision-making algorithms have shown the ability to outperform the traditional heuristic method of forecasting and decision-making,” said Hanlon.

Meteorology students present poster at conference.

Undergraduates Dakota Smith, Meredith Fish and Ryan Breton presented the poster “Up in the Air – A Climate and Weather Enterprise TV Broadcast,” showcasing the weekly, 15-minute television broadcast produced by meteorology students in weather communications, weather risk and climate science classes.

Image: Courtesy of Ryan Breton

Undergraduates Smith, Meredith Fish and Ryan Breton presented the poster “Up in the Air – A Climate and Weather Enterprise TV Broadcast” showcasing the weekly, 15-minute television broadcast produced by meteorology students in weather communications, weather risk and climate science classes.

“It’s awesome to see where people who were standing in our shoes 10-20 years ago are now and what career path they ended up taking in the meteorology field. This conference is a great opportunity for our students to branch out and learn about various unique aspects of meteorology that aren’t offered in our classrooms,” says another conference attendee Meredith Nichols.

Six faculty from the department also attended the conference and four faculty gave presentations, including an invited talk by Paul Markowski, professor of meteorology, on “Tornadoes and Tornadogenesis.”

Before the main conference started, AMS also hosted the 13th annual AMS Student Conference: Opportunities in the New Job Climate and Beyond and a career fair.

“It began with the student conference which was filled with career advice for college students and young professionals,” Smith explained. “There also were a lot of informal receptions and mixers which allowed us to interact with professionals who had a wealth of advice.”

Joel Myers, Penn State alum, AccuWeather founder, and long-time member of Penn State’s Board of Trustees, at the reception.

Joel Myers, Penn State alum, AccuWeather founder, and long-time member of Penn State’s Board of Trustees, at the reception.

Image: Penn State

Penn State’s Department of Meteorology and the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences’ Office of Development and Alumni Relations organized a reception for more than 180 alumni, faculty, students and friends, which was supported by AccuWeather. Joel Myers, Penn State alumnus, AccuWeather founder and long-time member of the Penn State’s Board of Trustees, gave a few remarks to the reception attendees. 

Myers has been a generous supporter of meteorology at Penn State and most recently gave a gift of more than $2 million for the creation of the Joel N. Myers Weather Center, a state-of-the-art teaching center for tomorrow's meteorologists. Penn State’s produces the most undergraduate students with degrees in meteorology in the country and operates the largest student-run, campus weather service in the nation.

The students enjoyed the opportunity to attend the conference and learned a lot from the experience.

Smith said, “The conference really inspired me to hopefully make an impact in the meteorological world. I hope to someday in the future advance the science while also advancing society."

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Last Updated March 07, 2014