For the month of October NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory is publishing a series of stories highlighting some of the women working at the lab. One Q&A segment will be published each Monday in October.
Jian Zhang is a research meteorologist of NOAA NSSL’s Warning Research and Development Division. Zhang completed her Ph.D at The University of Oklahoma in 1999. She worked with the OU Cooperative Institute for Mesosocale Meteorological Studies until 2009 when she became a federal employee.
Q: How did you get into weather?
A: My father was a mechanical engineer and his appreciation for the intricate regularities of math and physics and a passion for solving real-world problems had a big influence on me. As a result, I chose atmospheric physics/meteorology as my major in college and have stayed in the field ever since.
Q: What is it about your job that interests you?
A: My job is to produce accurate precipitation information for every square kilometer of the U.S. in a timely manner. Such information is critical across several sectors of the U.S. economy and for the protection and well being of the communities. Seeing my job has direct impacts and benefits in the real world interests me.
Q: Tell us about a project or accomplishment you consider to be the most significant in your career?
A: The most significant project of my career is the Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor system for which I am one of the main developers. The MRMS project provides people with severe weather and flash flood information at an unprecedented resolution down to the street scale.
Q: What is your personal philosophy?
A: Kind. Diligent. Intelligent.
Q: What would you most like to tell your younger self?
A: I would like to tell my younger self to be more critically thinking since I grew up in a culture and environment that valued collective interests more than individual interests – especially for women – and valued old wisdom more than adventures.