Graduation 2020

It’s graduation day at OU. Given the current COVID19 circumstances, it looks a lot different than it usually does. Virtual celebrations are set, but I wanted to take a quick opportunity to celebrate a handful of 2020 graduates!

This academic year, I have had the pleasure of serving as Senior Capstone mentor to four undergraduate meteorology students.

Marisa Nuzzo (left) and Maci Gibson (right)

The OU School of Meteorology featured both of these graduates:
Maci’s feature
Marisa’s feature

Marisa and Maci worked on a research project evaluating the impacts of wind shear in the lowest 1-km of the atmosphere on tornado potential in idealized supercell simulations. I got to work with them as they learned to compile and run the model on OU’s supercomputer, work with model data and visualization code, and do the scientific work of interpreting the data. I am most proud of their growth in ability to problem solve independently and their scientific writing chops. Though sometimes we ran close to wire, and I’m sure they got frustrated from time to time with the do it and then do it again nature of running a model, I can see how much they really learned. I learned from this project too, and I am so grateful they chose me to mentor them through the year! These young women are both very hard workers, and I look forward to seeing what they each accomplish in the coming years as professionals.

James Cuellar (left) and Nolan Meister (right, pictured with his significant other, Elizabeth Leslie)

The OU School of Meteorology featured both of these graduates:
James’ feature
Nolan’s feature

James and Nolan worked on a research project exploring how environmental parameters control updraft features associated with cold pool and RFD density currents using TORUS2019 observations and idealized simulations. Over the year we worked together, I got to watch as two students timid about even opening a terminal window became advanced command line users, navigating supercomputer and idealized model tools. I am most proud of how these two each found their own strengths and figured out ways to work together to leverage them. Sometimes this work got frustrating, and model results were bogus, but these two young men found ways to work through it and keep smiling (usually, anyway). I think this project was a good learning experience for all of us involved, both from a skills and a science perspective. James has grown the most as a scientist out of the four students I worked with, and it has been a pleasure to see his skills and (perhaps more importantly) his confidence blossom. I can’t wait to see where it takes him.

Nolan will actually continue his journey as an OU grad student this fall working with me! This means it isn’t a goodbye yet, and I am grateful to have found such a skilled student that has genuine interests that overlap with my research portfolio. I also want to pause and recognize his significant other, Elizabeth Leslie, also a new meteorology graduate. I know first-hand how important a strong, knowledgable, and supportive partner can be and also how hard it can be to be on this road together. So, even though I haven’t worked much with Elizabeth directly, she’s been a role-player in Nolan’s (and thus my) successes.

Chris Riedel, brand new Doctor

Which brings me to the last 2020 graduate I want to mention here, my significant other, Dr. Chris Riedel. Today he submitted his dissertation completing all requirements to earn a Ph.D. in meteorology at OU. The last few weeks (months?) have been stressful in our house as I tore apart his writing and critiqued his defense. In the end he delivered what I think was a great product, and I couldn’t be more proud of him. Now he’s set to join the NCAR ASP postdoc program in Boulder, CO. Can you believe?! Being partnered with another meteorologist is hard. We are each other’s harshest critics at times, but always each other’s biggest fans. It really has made us both stronger and better scientists, and for that I am grateful.

Congrats Class of 2020!

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