Unidata Welcomes New Committee Members

The Unidata Program Center is pleased to welcome new members to the program's governing committees. Committee members normally serve three-year terms; terms are finishing up for three members of the Users committee and two members of the Strategic Advisory committee. New members and those finishing their terms will overlap for one meeting: a Joint meeting of the Users Committee and the Strategic Advisory Committee to be held October 16-18 at the Unidata Program Center in Boulder, CO.

The UPC staff looks forward to working with our new committee members, and to having all the current members of both committees at the Program Center this fall.

The following provides a brief introduction to the scientists joining Unidata's committees. You can additional information about the governing committees, including contact information for committee members, on the Governing Committees page.

John Allen, Users Committee

John Allen

Dr. John Allen is an Assistant Professor at Central Michigan University. He received his doctoral degree in Earth Sciences & Meteorology from the University of Melbourne in 2013.

His current research focuses on how severe thunderstorms respond to climate variability and change, improving quantification of potential risk to life, property and agriculture from the present and future climate perspective, and exploring how these events have shaped the development of communities worldwide.

Dr. Allen is passionate about ensuring that students and scientists are better able to visualize and analyze data. “Programming and data analysis presents an excellent opportunity to get students interactively exploring topics in thermodynamics, dynamics and numerical modeling to improve learning outcomes,” he says. He is in the process of building more Unidata software into the CMU curriculum in order to better leverage Unidata resources. This work focuses on developing students' programming skills, particularly in Python and Unix via applications of increasing difficulty in courses progressively through their meteorology degrees. Recent examples include using the MetPy package to aid student understanding of model post-processing and visualization methods.

Gretchen Mullendore, Strategic Advisory Committee

Gretchen Mullendore

Dr. Gretchen Mullendore is an Associate Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of North Dakota (UND). She has been a faculty member at UND since 2007. Dr. Mullendore currently teaches Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) courses at both undergraduate and graduate level and recently implemented a new module for the undergraduate class that utilized “WRF-in-a-box” and Amazon Web Services to allow students to launch their own model runs to investigate model uncertainty.

Dr. Mullendore's research focuses on using radar observations and mesoscale models to measure pollutants that are transported upward in severe storms, changing the chemical balance and heat absorption characteristics of the upper atmosphere. She also runs an operational WRF model focused on North Dakota. She is also part of a research team that has been testing methods for sharing and processing large model datasets by using cloud platforms and reproducible workflows.

“Unidata continues to be a leader in helping both students and researchers access, use, and visualize atmospheric data” says Dr. Mullendore. She enjoys working with the Unidata team and is looking forward to continued collaboration “as they work on solutions to the growing challenges of Big Data in atmospheric sciences.”

Dr. Mullendore served on the Unidata Users Committee from 2014 through 2017.

Shawn Riley, Users Committee

Shawn Riley

Shawn Riley is a computer systems coordinator at the University of Oklahoma's School of Meteorology. He has been an active user of Unidata tools since 2003, when he started his undergraduate work at the University of Missouri. At OU, he actively manages installations of Unidata created and supported software including the AWIPS system, the Integrated Data Viewer (IDV), and the Local Data Manager (LDM).

“Because I talk regularly with meteorology students, as well as other people at the National Weather Center, I hope to be able to bring the thoughts and wishes of multiple groups to the table,” says Mr. Riley. “I want to do what I can to help guide Unidata the new crop of meteorologists have even better and more amazing tools.”

Users Committee Student Representative

Graduate student representatives bring a valuable student perspective to Unidata committee discussions, and help Unidata meet emerging challenges with an eye toward supporting young scientists entering the field.

Tomer Burg, Users Committee

Tomer Burg

Tomer Burg is beginning a two-year term as the Users Committee's Graduate Student Representative. He is pursuing a Master's degree in Atomospheric Science at the University at Albany, SUNY. He received his Bachelor's degree in Atmospheric Science from the University at Albany in 2016.

As an undergraduate, Tomer participated in the National Weather Center's Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program, studying the representation of ice pellets in the Rapid Refresh model. His current research focuses on applying forecast track and intensity diagnostics to high-impact Northeast winter storms.

“Weather forecasting and data visualization are my primary interests,” says Tomer, “I look forward to contributing to the Users Committee and Unidata and to help in continuing to improve use of data visualization within the academic sector.”

Returning Committee Members

Several sitting committee members have agreed to extend their terms:

Kevin Goebbert, Users Committee

Kevin Goebbert

Dr. Kevin Goebbert is an Associate Professor of Meteorology at Valparaiso University. He received his doctoral degree in Meteorology from the University of Oklahoma in 2009. He has been an active participant in the Unidata community since his graduate school days, using GEMPAK extensively for many years and now actively working on advocating for the use of Python within the community for education and research.

Dr. Goebbert currently teaches several undergraduate courses each semester at Valparaiso University, including “MET 130: Weather Technology” and “MET 330: Meteorological Computer Applications.” He has also been instrumental in bringing AWIPS technology to the University and has contributed to the MetPy Python package being developed through Unidata.

“Unidata is leading the way in bringing geoscience research processes and educational tools into the 21st Century,” says Dr. Goebbert. “I am more excited than ever to learn from and serve Unidata and the entire Users’ Community over the next three years.”

Dr. Goebbert has served on the Unidata Users Committee since 2014.

Sepideh Yalda, Strategic Advisory Committee

Sepideh Yalda

Dr. Sepideh Yalda begins a three-year term as the chair of the Unidata Strategic Advisory Committee. Dr. Yalda is a Professor of Meteorology at Millersville University. She received a doctorate in Meteorology from Saint Louis University, and joined the Millersville faculty in 1997. Since 2009 she has also served as Director of the Center for Disaster Research and Education at Millersville. Dr. Yalda coordinates the Master of Science in Emergency Management program.

Dr. Yalda's research has focused on climate model statistics, information technology, and science education. She has also been involved in a number of community-based research projects with a focus on all-hazard approach to mitigation and planning. She was also a Co-PI on the National Science Foundation funded GEOScience Probe of Discovery (GEOPOD) project, which leverages Unidata's IDV to create an interactive learning environment utilizing real-time data that provides Meteorology instructors and students with an intuitive and graphical interface in a 3-D gaming environment.

“I am looking forward to continuing to serve on the Unidata Strategic Advisory Committee, and to be able to contribute to this organization that is an invaluable community resource,” says Dr. Yalda.

Dr. Yalda has served on the Unidata Strategic Advisory Committee since 2013.

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