Atmospheric Sciences

Alumni Profiles

Shaunna Donaher, PhD '12

Who was your advisor at the Rosenstiel School and what kind of research did you do?

My advisor was Dr. Bruce Albrecht and our lab’s research was on radar observations of clouds and aerosols. My master’s research focused on boundary layer structure and sub-cloud turbulence in fair weather cumulus clouds in the tropical Atlantic during the RICO field campaign. My PhD research involved analysis of multiple wavelengths of radar data to characterize winds in tropical cyclone rainbands over land in South Florida. I also used rainband cases from my PhD research to create and test different educational pedagogies to determine effective ways of using data in the classroom.

What have you been doing since graduation and what are you up to now?

After finishing my PhD, I taught as an adduct professor at Miami Dade College for two years, teaching courses such as Intro to Meteorology, Earth Science, Intro to Oceanography, and Energy and the Environment. I also continued to participate in research as a part time contractor with UM. For the past two years, I have been employed as a Lecturer at Emory University in Atlanta, GA in the Environmental Sciences Department. Here I teach courses including Atmospheric Science with Lab, Natural Disasters and the Environment, Living in the Anthropocene, and Earth Systems Science. This lecture-track position fulfills my “dream job” from graduate school because I can focus on teaching engaging classes in an effective manor, and spend lots of time interacting with students. I am also still involved with research with undergraduate students and recently participated in the large CSET field campaign with Dr. Albrecht and Dr. Zuidema, where I developed an educational module based on the field project.

What do you remember most about your time at the Rosenstiel School?

I would definitely say all of the opportunities that I had to experience science-in-action. I was fortunate to travel to five different field campaigns around the world, where I got to participate in amazing research and interact with top scientists. I also got to travel to many conferences and workshops to present research, and served as a visiting scientist onboard Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas. These experiences not only broadened my understanding of the science, but also helped me to grow as a person. Of course I also remember the great lifelong friends I made while at RMSAS too!

How did your time at the Rosenstiel School help prepare you for your life and/or career today?

Being able to make connections in the field and present your research is so important in terms of career development, and RSMAS provided so many of those opportunities locally, nationally, and abroad. I was also able to TA for many classes while at RSMAS, which helped me to realize how much I wanted teaching to be a part of my future career. I was so fortunate to have a supportive advisor and thesis committee that allowed me to shape my PhD to include science education courses and research, which helped to guide my experiences in teaching and frame my job applications to show my true passion for teaching. My path through RSMAS did not end up being a typical one, but the tools were there for me to succeed, and by taking advantage of a wide variety of opportunities at RSMAS I felt very prepared for my career today.

 

Emily Riley, PhD '13

Who was your advisor at the Rosenstiel School and what kind of research did you do?

My advisor was Dr. Brian Mapes. My research involved using both observations and models to better understand multi-scale interactions of convection and the larger-scale. My main observational tool was the NASA space-based cloud radar CloudSat. My CloudSat work involved identifying clouds and their morphology characteristics. We specifically looked at how CloudSat-observed clouds were modulated by the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO). In terms of modeling, I used a cloud-resolving model (CRM) with parameterized large-scale dynamics to explore how the degree of convective organization altered the feedback between convection and the larger-scale.

What have you been doing since graduation and what are you up to now?

Since graduating in the summer of 2013, I’ve been a post-doctoral fellow at Colorado State University working on the importance of surface flux feedbacks to MJO convective initiation and maintenance. I'm still working with both observations and models. Observation-wise, I used buoy data from the Indian Ocean and TRMM radar precipitation. My modeling work utilizes CSU’s in-house CRM. Currently, I’m working on a proposal to studying convection over the Indonesian and Philippines Archipelagos. If funded, I will continue working at CSU as a research scientist.

What do you remember most about your time at the Rosenstiel School?

My best memories of RSMAS are hanging out with fellow graduate students at the Wetlab or beach, especially when there was a special event going on like the annual Graduate Student Auction or Halloween party.

How did your time at the Rosenstiel School help prepare you for your life and/or career today?

The most pertinent skills learned at RSMAS for my current career were computer coding and scientific writing. I was introduced to writing for a variety of documents from scientific meeting abstracts to publications and proposals. My advisor was the most helpful in honing these skills, but classes, committee members, and fellow students also provided valuable input.

 

Daniel Stern, PhD '10

Who was your advisor at the Rosenstiel School and what kind of research did you do?

My advisor was Dr. David Nolan. My research focused on the structure and dynamics of tropical cyclones, from perspectives of observations, numerical simulations, and theory. In particular, I investigated the vertical structure of the wind field within the eyewall of tropical cyclones.

What have you been doing since graduation and what are you up to now?

A few months after graduating, I moved to State College, Pennsylvania (in July 2010), to start a position as a postdoctoral scientist at Penn State University, working with Professor Fuqing Zhang. I worked at PSU for two and a half years, moving to Boulder, Colorado in 2013, after I was awarded an NSF-AGS Postdoctoral Fellowship. For this fellowship, I worked at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), with Dr. George Bryan. Following the completion of the two-year fellowship, I remained at NCAR for another six months as a visitor, while being employed by University of Miami as an Assistant Scientist (working with David Nolan). In September of 2015, I started a new position as a UCAR Visiting Scientist at the Naval Research Laboratory, in Monterey, California. Here, I am working in the Mesoscale Modeling Section, with Dr. Jim Doyle.

What do you remember most about your time at the Rosenstiel School?

There are many things I remember fondly about my time at RSMAS, but the two that are most on my mind are the people (particularly my fellow classmates), and the Wetlab. There was a great atmosphere of camaraderie among the students, and I made many close friends while at RSMAS. Something that I think is fairly unique about RSMAS, which contributed to this atmosphere, is the geographic diversity of the students. So many different countries were represented, and as a result, I was exposed to many different cultures (and foods!), and I think this really enhanced the overall environment, and simply made RSMAS a more interesting place to be. In my experience, students at RSMAS from different backgrounds and cultures interacted closely with one another, and I don’t think this is true of most institutions.
The Wetlab is another unique aspect of RSMAS, which is important beyond simply having a bar to drink at in the same building your office is in (which is admittedly a nice perk). It really brought people together, both socially and scientifically. It brought students within my program together, and while I can’t speak for everybody, I had many productive scientific discussions as a result of the Wetlab. It also allowed for a more cohesive atmosphere overall within RSMAS, bringing together students from the different departments. And finally, it also allowed for a more relaxed interaction among the students and their professors than is possible in the classroom. And of course, the cheapest drinks in Miami.

How did your time at the Rosenstiel School help prepare you for your life and/or career today?

RSMAS helped prepare me for my career in a number of ways. Most importantly, I learned how to be a research scientist, thinking critically, creatively, and independently. There were also important practical skills that I learned at RSMAS, such as how to run numerical models, and more importantly, how to analyze and interpret the results. During my semester as a TA, I gained teaching experience that will undoubtedly be helpful if I were to become a professor at some point in the future. The research I did at RSMAS helped prepare me for all of my subsequent positions, and in fact, I continue to work on projects that relate to work that I started at RSMAS. The near-collocation of NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division (HRD) was also beneficial, as I was able to continue to interact with scientists whom I had met during two summer internships prior to attending RSMAS. As a result, I continue to this day to collaborate with scientists from HRD. Finally, I have had the opportunity to travel to different countries and gain a broader audience for my work, in part as a result of relationships I made at RSMAS. For example, in December 2014, I attended a workshop in South Korea (thanks to Dave Nolan, who suggested my name to the workshop conveners), where we reviewed the current state of tropical cyclone research. Also attending that meeting was Dr. Munehiko Yamaguchi, who had been a fellow student at RSMAS with me. As a result of our shared connection of RSMAS, Munehiko invited me to give two lectures at the Meteorological Research Institute of Japan, where he works. This was a great experience for me, both personally and professionally, and I look forward to such trips in the future, that stem in part from my time at RSMAS.