Researchers honored for achievements in research, outreach

Two NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory researchers were recently recognized by NOAA for their outstanding achievements in research and increased outreach.

Jeff Snyder was awarded the prestigious Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers for leading cutting-edge research using weather radar to improve the detection and short-term forecasts of severe thunderstorms, large hail and tornadoes.

Jeff Snyder.

“I feel fortunate for the support I’ve had since graduate school and throughout my career,” Snyder said. “Such support and encouragement allows me to investigate meteorological matters and continue great research.”

Snyder’s work seeks to improve the detection of hail 20-30,000 feet above ground. Hail grows in this part of the atmosphere but can be difficult to detect until it is closer to the ground. Snyder said this work will increase warning lead times of severe thunderstorms, particularly those with large, destructive hail. Other research focuses include improving radar detection of debris produced by tornadoes in densely forested areas, and exploring artificial intelligence options for weather modeling to improve forecasts.

Since its 1996 inception, NOAA has participated in PECASE, which has recognized 43 of its best and brightest early-career scientists, including seven NSSL researchers.

Bob Rabin

Also honored was Bob Rabin, who received the 2019 Society of American Indian Government Employees Leadership Award for supporting American Indian outreach activities and for serving as a mentor.

Rabin said he was surprised to be nominated for the SAIGE award.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to share my enthusiasm of NOAA science with Native American and Alaska Native youth and to explore ways to connect that science with traditional knowledge and indigenous science,” he said.

The purpose of the SAIGE awards is to recognize individuals who have made contributions in the recruitment, retention, and advancement of American Indian/Alaska Native employees in the Federal workforce.

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Mathcounts competition

(Left to right - front row) Katherine Brooks, Vincent Li, Daniel Lamothe, Aniket Dehadrai, and Howard Zhong. Aniket and Howard qualified for Nationals. (Back row) Gaylon Pinc from the Oklahoma Society of Professional Engineers and Chair of OK Mathcounts program, head grader, and Harold Brooks.
(Left to right – front row) Katherine Brooks, Vincent Li, Daniel Lamothe, Aniket Dehadrai, and Howard Zhong. Aniket and Howard qualified for Nationals. (Back row) Gaylon Pinc from the Oklahoma Society of Professional Engineers and Chair of OK Mathcounts program, head grader, and Harold Brooks.

Whittier Mathcounts team going to Nationals
The Whittier Middle School Mathcounts team, coached by Katherine Brooks (assisted by Harold Brooks) won the state championship last weekend! Katherine is a pre-engineering teacher at Whittier Middle School, and both Katherine and Harold have volunteered their time to help the kids prepare for the competition over the last three years. The team was also honored for being “the most improved.”

Two students from the Whittier team, and two from Jenks Middle School in Jenks, OK will represent Oklahoma at Nationals in Orlando, FL on May 9. Katherine will coach the Oklahoma team, and Harold will help.

The MATHCOUNTS Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that strives to engage middle school students of all ability and interest levels in fun, challenging math programs, in order to expand their academic and professional opportunities.There are 224 final Mathletes from 50 U.S. states, U.S. territories, State Department schools and Department of Defense schools.

Congratulations and good luck!

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NSSL scientist teaches students about weather in Barrow, Alaska

Bob Rabin stands under whale bones in Barrow, Alaska

A team of scientists including NSSL’s Bob Rabin introduced North Slope Alaska Native students from Barrow, Alaska, and other small villages to weather and climate science through two STEM courses recently. Held on the campus of the Ilisagvik College, the classes were designed for students to explore various disciplines addressing climate change.

Students are learning to draw contour lines on weather maps

During the first session, Rabin presented remotely from Norman, Okla., to students in grades 10 and up.  Activities were designed to give students an opportunity to learn about remote observations such as satellites, and how they are used in research and weather forecasting.  Topics covered by other scientists included the carbon cycle, land cover changes, radon and permafrost, data visualization and documentation.

During the second course, Rabin presented a full day of activities in Barrow that included satellite basics, observations and weather forecasting for grades 7-9.  The students then participated in a contest based on their forecasts of temperature, pressure and wind for the following few days.  Tours and hands-on activities were provided at the National Weather Service Weather Office in Barrow (lead by Dave Anderson, Officer in Charge), and at the ESRL/Global Monitoring Division observatory (lead by Matthew Martinsen, Station Chief).

Students make observations at ESRL's site
Sea ice in Barrow

Barrow is located 500 miles north of Fairbanks. The Barrow community and the smaller villages of the North Slope of Alaska depend heavily on subsidence living. “Their connection with the environment is very strong,” Rabin said.  “There seems to be a keen awareness and concern for the effects of the weather on food supply, especially whaling and hunting caribou.”

In collaboration with local elders, Rabin hopes to help develop an online course on weather and climate of the North Slope at Ilisagvik College. The course could incorporate some of the traditional ways people predicted and understood the weather and may include installation of a simple weather station at the college.

Ilisagvik College in Barrow, Alaska

Keep scrolling for more photos.  What are the chances of you ever getting to visit Barrow?

Barrow Science Lab
The Arctic Ocean
Students look at weather models
The Ilisagvik campus
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CIMMS researcher showcases weather research to local tribe

Randy Peppler describes the instruments on top of the mobile mesonet.

NSSL’s mobile mesonet was on display for the third year at the Apache Tribe Environmental Camp, held annually near Apache or Fort Cobb Okla., about one hour southwest of Oklahoma City.

Randy Peppler, Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies (CIMMS) Associate Director and Assistant Director of NOAA Relations showcased the minivian with weather instruments mounted on top to expose Native American children to science and science education.  He also engaged them in conversations about clouds and weather research.

“Native farmers provided me with their knowledge on weather and climate for my dissertation.  This is my way to give back,” said Peppler.

The environmental outreach camp is the only event of its kind in Oklahoma to show young Native Americans the importance of our environment and natural resources, along with letting them know what programs and careers are available to them.  The camp also offered cultural teachings such as bow and arrow making, making fry bread, setting up a tee-pee, and drum history talks.

CIMMS/NSSL, the USDA’s Farm Service Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Apache Tribe Environmental Program, Langston University, Kiowa Native Farms LLC, and farmers and ranchers were all participants.

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NSSL scientist represents NSSL/OAR at American Indian Science and Engineering Society Conference

AISESNSSL scientist Bob Rabin recently returned from the 33rd annual American Indian Science and Engineering Society Conference held in Minneapolis, Minn. November 10-12, 2011.  The conference highlighted the academic excellence of high school, undergraduate and graduate American Indian and Alaska Native students, and offered opportunities for career networking.

The conference featured a career fair with exhibitors from industry, universities and federal agencies.  The NOAA booth was staffed by Rabin, sponsored by OAR EEO office, along with folks from the National Ocean Service.   Students expressed interest in internship opportunities within NOAA labs.  Tribal colleges were interested in connecting with NOAA scientists to mentor students in their programs.

Rabin also gave a presentation titled, “Monitoring rainfall and severe weather on native lands:  Scientific and social challenges.”  The talk highlighted the importance of including inter-connectivity in science, the role of Native American culture, and what it offers to the advancement of science and society as a whole.

The 34th AISES conference will be held in Anchorage, Ala. November 1-3, 2012.

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NSSL partners with San Francisco’s Exploratorium

Rust and Waugh
Retired NSSL scientist Dave Rust, and OU/CIMMS/NSSL grad student Sean Waugh look at a static electricity exhibit with Exploratorium staff.

A team from NSSL spent a week at the world-renowned San Francisco Exploratorium to work with staff as part of the NOAA Scientist in Residence program.  The Exploratorium is a unique museum dedicated to unstructured exploration and discovery of science and art.

NSSL retired researcher Dave Rust led the team and shared his expertise as an observational scientist and creator of observation platforms.  Rust, along with NSSL/CIMMS’s Sean Waugh and Susan Cobb brainstormed with staff to develop demonstrations, experiments and exhibits on weather and severe weather.  They also gave presentations on NSSL and their research and worked with “explainers” who serve as guides in the museum.  Part of the time was spent discussing new ideas for an outdoor observatory to be located at the Exploratorium’s new location on Pier 15, opening in 2013.

The team will return in late Winter 2012 for two weeks to share NOAA NSSL research with Exploratorium visitors.

The partnership is the result of a five-year educational grant with NOAA to co-develop interactive exhibits, online learning experiences and professional development workshops for the learning institution.

The Exploratorium first opened in 1969 and welcomes more than 500,000 visitors each year.

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Top weather minds unite in new video

A new outreach video about the NOAA Hazardous Weather Testbed Spring Experiment was just released on YouTube.  Created with a video game theme, the video opens with “Top weather minds unite in the quest for a better forecast.”

NWS forecasters and participating researchers are interviewed in four “levels” including, “Tactical Role Playing,” “Real-Time Strategy,” “Co-Op Feedback,” and “Experience Points.” The video closes with “Game Over…until next spring.”

The Spring Experiment has been the cornerstone of the Hazardous Weather Testbed (HWT) for more than a decade, where forecasters are provided with a first-hand look at the latest research, concepts and products.  At the same time, research scientists gain valuable understanding of the challenges, needs and constraints of front-line forecasters.

NSSL, the NWS Storm Prediction Center and the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Norman, Okla. sponsor the Spring Experiment.  The end result meets another NWS goal to increase the development, application and transition of advanced science and technology to operations and services.

NSSL videographer James Murnan has created more than 30 outreach videos over the past few years on topics ranging from dual-polarized weather radar to the Coastal and Inland Flooding Observation and Warning project (CI-FLOW).  Murnan was recently awarded the 2011 INDUS Excellence Award for his work.

The video can be seen at:

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National Weather Festival coming!


Saturday, Nov. 6, 2010
9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

National Weather Center, 120 David L Boren Blvd.
(corner of Hwy. 9 and Jenkins Ave.)
Norman, OK

The annual National Weather Festival highlights the many weather related organizations and activities in central Oklahoma. This unique event features hourly weather balloon launches, children’s activities, storm research vehicle displays, amateur radio demonstrations, a Storm Chaser Car Show and weather related information and products. Visitors can view the National Weather Center’s premier facilities including National Weather Service forecast operation areas.

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