Gab at the Lab: Allen Zahrai

Allen Zahrai, Research Scientist


Background:M.S., Computer Science, University of Oklahoma
M.S., Electrical Engineering, University of Oklahoma
B.S., Electrical Engineering, Minor: Mathematics, University of Oklahoma
Experience:Allen was born in Tehran, Iran, and moved frequently during his early years. He spent some time in Sweden, and believed he would likely settle down in Europe until he came to Washington, D.C. to study at George Washington University. He was then enticed by a friend to transfer to Central State College in Edmond, Oklahoma and, from there, made his way to the University of Oklahoma in Norman. As a child, Allen was fascinated by engineering and could often be found tinkering with objects in his bedroom. He brought the same enthusiasm to his studies, earning both a bachelor’s and Master’s degree in electrical engineering. He came to NSSL as a graduate student, collaborating with Dick Doviak on a digital acoustic profiler project for NASA.
What He Does:Allen has a long history at NSSL, and has been part of the evolution of the Lab’s radar programs. He worked on some of the earliest equipment and helped develop the first dual polarized doppler weather radar. In time, he joined the National Weather Service’s Radar Operations Center, where he worked on WSR-88D deployment issues. Now, he is a radar engineering team leader in the Radar Research and Development Division at NSSL. Allen has been a team member on projects like the WSR-88D dual pol upgrade, and helped build the National Weather Radar Testbed. He has worked on mobile radars, like the dual polarized X-band and the SMART-R dual polarized C-band. Currently, he is helping to test the ten panel demonstrator and build the Advanced Technology Demonstrator, which will allow researchers to test dual polarized phased array radar.
Trivia: Allen enjoys spending time with his family, which includes three children and five grandchildren.He and his wife also have two cats and a dog. In his free time, he likes the outdoors, video games, computers, electronics, motor vehicles, and wood working.

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Gab at the Lab: Bob Rabin

Bob Rabin, Research Scientist


Background:Ph.D.., Meteorology, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France
M.S., Meteorology, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
B.S., Meteorology, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
Experience:Bob is originally from Evanston, Illinois, near Chicago. He was inspired to pursue a career in meteorology by significant weather events in his early years. During the 1965 Palm Sunday tornado outbreak, Bob watched as developing storms formed overhead, unaware at the time that the Weather Bureau storm survey included recommendations from NSSL detailing a prototype Doppler radar. He was fascinated yet again when a tornado struck Topeka, Kansas, and near home in 1966. And, of course, he was influenced by big snowstorms in Chicago, like the blizzard of 1967. Bob enjoyed following the career of Harry Volkman, the first meteorologist to issue a tornado warning on air. He would eventually earn his own meteorology degrees from McGill University in Montreal. Later, he would travel to Paris, France for his the Universite Pierre et Marie Curie, where his thesis was “Diagnosing changes in temperature/moisture profiles using Doppler radar.”
What He Does:Bob has been with NSSL for many years, and has watched the Lab’s history unfold. He has been a contributor to many scientific studies and research papers. In 1979, Bob was part of the Severe Environmental Storm and Mesoscale Experiment, which sampled Southern Plains storm activity at different scales of motion. Over the next few years, his research focused on uses of Doppler radar to estimate winds in the clear air, and on the effects of landscape variations on convective clouds. In 1989, Bob was detailed at the Space Science and Engineering Center in Madison, Wisconsin, which led to on-going collaboration with scientists at the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies. Today, Bob is working to develop GOES-R and the next generation of NOAA/NASA geo weather satellites. He is also responsible for diversity outreach activities at NSSL, and has mentored students at schools nationwide, including Iḷisaġvik College, a two-year tribal college in Barrow, Alaska. Bob is also enrolled as a student there, studying the Inupiaq language. In February, Bob was selected to receive the 2016 EEO/Diversity Award for Exemplary Service from NOAA’s Office of Oceanic & Atmospheric Research.
Trivia: Bob loves to spend time outdoors in all weather conditions, and enjoys sprinting, biking, hiking, and Nordic skiing. He is also a yoga instructor. During his time in Montreal, he was a hockey goal judge at McConnell Arena, home of McGill hockey. He enjoyed many years of playing basketball with NSSL’s “Hall of Fame” squad at the YMCA, which occasionally included notables such as OU’s J.C. Watts.

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Gab at the Lab: Katie Bowden

Katie (Bowden) Wilson, Ph.D. Candidate (University of Oklahoma – CIMMS/NSSL)


Background:M.S., Meteorology, University of Oklahoma
MMet., Meteorology, University of Reading
Experience:Katie hails from Royal Wootton Bassett, a town in central England about an hour and a half west of London. She attended the University of Reading and came to the University of Oklahoma on an exchange program during her studies. After spending some time in Oklahoma, she decided she wanted more, and came back to earn her Master’s degree from OU in 2012. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate at OU, and has already passed the program’s rigorous General Exam. She expects to complete her Ph.D. by late-2017.
What She Does:Katie works on interdisciplinary experiments to understand the impact of higher-temporal resolution radar data on NWS forecasters’ warning decision processes. She has been a co-lead, along with NSSL’s Pam Heinselman, on the Phased Array Radar Innovative Sensing Experiment. In this displaced real-time simulation, Katie and Pam work with NWS forecasters to test the effects of radar update speed on resultant warning performance and workload. These studies have played a critical role in demonstrating the advantages of rapid-scanning phased array radar over WSR-88D. Katie has also won numerous awards for her studies on Eye-Tracking Technology with CIMMS and NSSL. By studying the movement of forecasters’ eye gaze during the warning decision process, researchers are gaining valuable information that will help develop better tools to guide meteorologists in the future.
Trivia: Katie has two sisters back home in England, including an identical twin! She enjoys staying active and is quite adventurous - she has both skydived and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro! Katie and her husband, Chris, are newlyweds and celebrated their wedding in Chicago this summer.

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Gab at the Lab: Dick Doviak

Dick Doviak, Senior Research Scientist

Dick Doviak

Background:Ph.D., Electrical Engineering, University of Pennsylvania (1963)
M.Sc., University of Pennsylvania (1959)
B.S., Electrical Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (BSEE; 1956)
Experience:Richard “Dick” Doviak grew up in New Jersey, and attended the prestigious University of Pennsylvania, where he earned his Ph.D. in electrical engineering. He joined NSSL in 1971 and was Chief of the Doppler Radar Project that would eventually lead to NEXRAD. From 1978 and until 1987, he managed the Storm Electricity Research Project responsible for directing scientific studies of lightning detection systems and weather radar. Over the years, he has also served as an editor for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and as an associate editor on several publications of the American Meteorological Society. He is an IEEE fellow and AMS fellow, and has won numerous awards. Dr. Doviak co-authored the book Doppler Radar and Weather Observations with NSSL’s Dusan Zrnic. He is author or co-author of over 130 refereed scientific articles in 21 journals spanning interests in the geosciences, engineering, physics, and meteorology, and authored or co-authored over 200 non refereed articles and reports.
What He Does:Dr. Doviak is a senior scientist with NSSL’s Radar Research and Development Division. He is helping develop Multi-Function Phased Array Radar, a single radar that can replace four other radars (Airport Surveillance Radars, Air Route Surveillance Radars, Terminal Doppler Weather Radars, and National Weather Surveillance Radars). He enjoys teaching and advising students in electrical engineering and the School of Meteorology at the University of Oklahoma, and even developed a course on radar meteorology for OU. He also collaborates with Hong Kong Observatory and Lockheed Martin. Dr. Doviak has served as a consultant to a number of companies and been an invited speaker to countries all over the world.
Trivia: Dr. Doviak enjoys swimming, biking, gardening, and spending time with his family.

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Gab at the Lab: Holly Obermeier

Holly Obermeier, Research Associate (CIMMS/NSSL)


Background:M.S., Meteorology, University of Nebraska - Lincoln (2014)
B.S., Meteorology and Climatology, University of Nebraska - Lincoln (2007)
Experience:Holly was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, and earned both her bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. Upon completion of her bachelor’s program, she began her career as a broadcast meteorologist. She first worked at KLBK, the CBS station in Lubbock, Texas, from 2008-2010. Then, she moved on to ABC-affiliated KETV in Omaha, Nebraska, where she remained until 2015. As a broadcaster, Holly enjoyed forecasting and severe weather coverage, and she specialized in radar analysis. She came to Oklahoma in 2015 as a participant in the Hazardous Weather Testbed, where she was intrigued by the opportunities in research meteorology. In September 2015, she was hired as a full-time research associate with OU CIMMS.
What She Does:Holly endeavors to improve severe weather warnings by working with radar data. Her current work focuses on identification of thunderstorm types using WSR-88D radar data. She is helping to build an algorithm through a process called machine learning, aiming to assist weather forecasters who are making warning decisions. Holly also studies impact-based tornado warnings, and was involved in this year’s PHI project in the Hazardous Weather Testbed, studying how broadcast meteorologists may use and communicate warning information in the future. She applied her on-air experience at NSSL, hosting the most recent “Bite-Sized Science” video on Eye-Tracking Technology.
Trivia: Holly enjoys hiking, camping, running, frisbee, photography, and hanging out with her husband, Jeremy.

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Gab at the Lab: Heather Grams

Heather Grams, Research Scientist (CIMMS/NSSL)


Background:Ph.D., Meteorology, University of Oklahoma (2012)
M.S., Meteorology, University of Oklahoma (2008)
B.S., Meteorology (Minor: Geology), Iowa State University (2006)
Experience:Heather spent her early years moving frequently. She was born in Garden City, Kansas, but then relocated with her family to numerous locations throughout the state, as well as Colorado, Oklahoma, and Texas. Inspired by the weather in the Great Plains, she eventually found herself in Ames, Iowa, where she pursued a bachelor’s degree in meteorology at Iowa State University. She then traveled to Norman, Oklahoma to earn her Master’s and Ph.D. in the same field at the University of Oklahoma. She has been with OU CIMMS since completion of her Ph.D. program in 2012.
What She Does:Heather works primarily on data-related projects with CIMMS/NSSL. Her work focuses on the “Multi-Sensor” side of the Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor program, working on precipitation product development. She looks at satellite-derived QPE (GOES-R) and environment-derived products and guidance (RAP/HRRR), particularly in mountainous areas where radar coverage is limited. She is also a project manager for precipitation and QPE-related tasks funded by the Radar Operations Center.
Trivia: Heather’s husband, Jeremy, is a forecaster at NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center. Together, they have one son, Benjamin, and a cat named Stormy. They are expecting their second child this October. In her free time, Heather also enjoys storm chasing, hiking, traveling, photography, and gardening.

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Gab at the Lab: Mohammed Osman

Mohammed Osman, NRC Postdoc (CIMMS/NSSL)


Background:Ph.D., Atmospheric Physics, University of Western Ontario, Canada (2012)
M.Sc., Solar Energy & Environmental Physics, Ben-Gurion University, Israel (2007)
M.Sc., Physics, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia (2005)
B.Sc., Physics, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia (2000)
Experience:Mohammed Osman was born and raised in southern Ethiopia. Having grown up in a country with 84 tribes, 84 spoken languages (70 of them are local languages), he jokes that he is only fluent in two! He attended Addis Ababa University, where he earned his bachelor’s and Master's degrees in physics. He then made the move to Israel, where he studied at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and eventually relocated to Ontario Canada, where he earned his Ph.D. in atmospheric physics. He worked for several years in the Air Quality Research Division at Environment and Climate Change Canada in Toronto before coming to Oklahoma to join OU CIMMS.
What He Does:Mohammed has been a postdoc with OU CIMMS and NSSL since April 2016. He is working on mining unique, large ARM (Atmospheric Radiation Measurement) LIDAR data sets to study turbulence in the convective boundary layer. Computing vertical profiles of turbulent fluctuations of water vapor, temperature as well as wind and relating these profiles with large-scale variable that are predicted by numerical models is focus of his research. Small noise errors in LIDAR measurements enable to derive up to fourth-order moments (i.e., variance, skewness, kurtosis) for water vapor, temperature and wind fluctuations. Furthermore, such a continuous, long-term and vertically resolved LIDAR observations provides an ideal situation for a detailed climatology study of the above parameters. Since the resulting moments don’t depend on a priori data, it provides independent information and insight that can be used for both weather forecast as well as climate models.
Trivia: Mohammed enjoys spending time with his wife, traveling, cooking, and drinking coffee and enjoying lively conversation (Did you know that coffee actually originated in Ethiopia?). He also likes watching soccer, basketball, and American football, and is a long distance runner.

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Gab at the Lab: Ryan Hastings

Ryan Hastings, NRC Postdoc


Background:Ph.D. Meteorology, Penn State University (2013)
M.S. Meteorology, Penn State University (2009)
B.S. Mathematics, University of Texas (2004)
Experience:Ryan Hastings began college in 1994 as a religious studies major at Indiana University. After two years, he dropped out and moved to Austin, Texas, where he would eventually go on to earn his bachelor’s degree in mathematics at the University of Texas. While in Austin, he was intrigued enough by the severe weather of the Plains that he decided to continue his education in the field of meteorology. He studied multi-platform observations of transition in convective organization of convective boundary layer and the VORTEX2 project under Yvette Richardson at Penn State University, and completed his Master’s degree in 2007. Ryan then shifted his focus to observations and simulations of mergers between ordinary cells and supercells for his Ph.D. work at Penn State. In 2013, he accepted a teaching position at Purdue University and remained there as a visiting professor until coming to CIMMS. In May 2015, Ryan was hired as an NRC Postdoc working with NSSL’s Mike Coniglio.
What He Does:Since joining OU CIMMS, Ryan has taken part in the Plains Elevated Convection At Night and Mini-MPEX field programs. He also studies idealized modeling with the Lab. He is currently looking at Quasi-Linear Convective Systems and examining why these systems do not have severe winds at night. He has discovered that an alteration in the pressure perturbation structure of QLCS storms causes downdraft winds, once they reach the ground, to accelerate to the rear rather than the front of the storm. His work is helping scientists to better understand these complicated systems, which present a significant challenge for forecasters in NOAA’s National Weather Service.
Trivia: Ryan is a comic book enthusiast and has been an avid collector for many years!

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Gab at the Lab: John Krause

John Krause, Research Scientist (CIMMS/NSSL RRDD)

John Krause

Background:M.S. Information Technology, University of Oklahoma
M.S. Meteorology, University of Oklahoma; M.B.A., University of Oklahoma
B.S. Cornell University, Atmospheric Sciences
Experience:John Krause began his career with CIMMS almost 20 years ago. John’s first position with CIMMS was at the Radar Operations Center Training Branch in Norman, Oklahoma. After 2 years with the ROC, he joined the staff at CIMMS/NSSL, and has been at the Lab ever since. His wife, Jane, still works over at the ROC - she’s in the engineering branch!
What He Does:John develops, codes, tests, and supports dualpol-algorithms for the WSR-88D. He creates and maintains a suite of dual-pol algorithms and works with radar and model data to create new weather products. He considers his role to be “World Class Scientific Support for World Class Science" and enjoys working collaboratively with his CIMMS & NSSL teammates, including Alexander Ryzhkov, Terry Schuur, Heather Reeves, Kim Elmore, Jeff Snyder, and Pengfei Zhang, among others. After almost 20 years at NSSL, John encourages others to recognize that science is a team sport and people, tools, and processes need to adapt as big datasets continue to get bigger. His "Work Wisdom" includes advice to always take care of yourself (your mind is worthless if your body fails you!) and to remember to make pretty pictures to keep the management happy!
Trivia: John enjoys training for triathlons, and regularly covers over 100 miles per week while training in running, swimming, and cycling. He is also an avid homebrewer with decades of experience. He specializes in Belgians and other Ales.

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Gab at the Lab: Ted Mansell

Ted Mansell, Research Scientist

Ted Mansell

Background:Ph.D. Physics, University of Oklahoma (2000)
M.S. Physics, Northern Illinois University (1996)
B.S. Physics and Philosophy, Westminster College (PA) (1991)
Experience:Ted Mansell was born and raised in western Pennsylvania. He attended Westminster College, a small school near the border with Ohio, where he studied physics and philosophy. He went on to earn his Master’s at Northern Illinois University, focusing on sound radiation emitted from handbells. This caused him to take an interest in storm electrification and lightning, which brought him to the University of Oklahoma for his Ph.D. in physics. He was a National Research Council Postdoc with the Lab from 2000-2001, specializing in thunderstorm electrification and lightning assimilation into forecast models.
What He Does:Ted is now a Federal researcher with NSSL. He studies storm electrification, lightning physics, and models of cloud processes. One topic of particular interest to him is relationships between lightning and storm characteristics. He is also working on Ensemble Kalman Filter (EnKF) Assimilation. Ted has been a contributor to several significant projects at the Lab, launching soundings in TELEX-2004 and providing field support with the NOXP, a dual-polarized X-band mobile radar. He took part in the VORTEX2 field campaign in 2009-2010. He also participated in the Deep Convective Clouds and Chemistry (DC3) field experiment in 2012, during which aircraft and ground-based instruments were used to investigate thunderstorms. Ted was also a part of the more recent Plains Elevated Convection at Night (PECAN) project, which took place last summer.
Trivia: Ted enjoys developing his picture-taking skills, and often practices as a photographer for his daughter’s soccer team. He is also an avid gardener, and is always finding space for new plants around his home. On holidays and special occasions, Ted has been known to whip up some gourmet chocolates in his kitchen!

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