Obtaining my Bachelors degree in meteorology was one of the most difficult, most fun, and most rewarding paths I have ever gone through. Like most teenagers, I was still coming into my own as a student and person when I left high school, but with the help of new friends and the faculty at Millersville I am proud to say that I have a degree from the institution. During my 4 years in the small town just a few miles from Lancaster PA, I was able to participate on several field projects while still keeping up on an ambitious class schedule.
As is the case with most undergraduate education, my classes concentrated on my major but I also had to take a number of courses outside of my major. Some of those classes included art history, political geography, philosophy and even renaissance literature. It was actually a pleasure at times to change speeds and learn something completely outside my comfort zone. Of course the most important classes were within my major (listed below). Until this point, I had never been challenged in the way some of the classes challenged me. Thinking outside the box was a necessity as was working as a team with my colleagues within Millersville. I remain close friends with many of those colleagues, some of which you will be fortunate enough to meet through blog posts on this site.
Classes Within Major
|Introduction to the Earth Sciences||Intro to Meteorology|
|Atmospheric Dynamics 1 & 2||Physical Meteorology|
|Meso-scale Meteorology||Synoptic Meteorology|
|Atmospheric Chemistry||Boundary Layer Meteorology|
|IDL Coding||Atmospheric Modeling|
During my undergraduate years, research was my main focus. I was extremely fortunate to go to a university where the faculty made it a priority to involve undergraduates in their research projects. Two projects I took part in were air quality projects, the first took place in North East Philadelphia during the summer of 2002, while the other took place in Millersville during the Winter of 2004. The third field project I took part in was with Cornell University where we studied the transport of corn pollen in conjunction with the Connecticut Agricultural Station.
Summer 2002 Air Quality Project
Being that this was my firist research experience, I took in everything and enjoyed every second of this project. It allowed me to be outside during the summer and to work with a group of scientists that I normally would not have had the opportunity to interact with. The goal of the project was to collect air chemistry samples from a location about 10 miles north of center city Philadelphia. There were many very hot days (which was great for the collection of data) as well as a period that was heavily influenced by wild fires in Canada.
This was one of the first times where I could understand WHY the smoke was able to make it from Canada into the Philadelphia area. The weather pattern was set up just right to “blow” the smoke over 500 miles into the region. Team work was very important during this project as we had to make sure not to lose a large helium balloon and disrupt air traffic in the region. Some of the important instrumentation used was a LIDAR, Tethered balloon, various trace gas collectors (CO, Ozone, NOx, and SO), and some other basic meteorological instruments.
A more thorough write-up of the event can be found in my conference pre-print here (PDF).
Summer 2003 Corn Pollen Transport Project
This project came completely out of nowhere, at least to me. As you will see as a trend on this site, I like to take EVERYTHING and correlate weather to it. Even I could not have thought I would be working in the middle of a corn field with one of the most prestigious universities on the planet, but here I was. It was extremely interesting collecting data to determine how far corn pollen will travel. The reason this is important is for disease spread and also the classification of “organic”. Again, I used the tethered balloon sounding system, only this time I was using with an “Air Force”. Cornell had recruited a number of model airplane pilots to fly over the corn field at varying altitudes to determine how much pollen could be collected. VERY interesting (especially when one would crash). I was only part of the “crew” for this project so I was not part of any publications.
Winter 2004 Air Quality Project
Because of my experience with the NEOPS project, my adviser asked me to take the lead in a wintertime project to take place in Millersville in January 2004. I was thrilled to have more responsibility and a greater role in the project. Some of my responsibilities included training a group of about 15 students on the various instrumentation, scheduling the students (making sure to take into consideration their class schedules), and also supervising the data collection. At times, the supervision would have me on site for more than 24 straight hours.
I learned a lot about leading a group during this project. It was a process that I take with me to this day whenever I am tasked with supervising. I am happy to say that the project was a success and a great deal of data was collected in various weather conditions. More information can be found here (PDF) and here (slide pdf).