Unidata Welcomes New Committee Members

The Unidata Program Center is pleased to welcome new members to the program's governing committees. Committee members serve three-year terms, meeting twice each year to provide feedback on the effectiveness of the Unidata Program and advise staff on issues facing the university community. Appointments reflect the range of large and small colleges and universities with undergraduate and graduate emphases where Unidata systems are in use.

Two new committee members were able to join us for the Fall Users Committee meeting, and two more will be joining us at the Spring meeting.

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

Eric Bruning, Users Committee

Eric Bruning

Dr. Eric Bruning is an Associate Professor of Atmospheric Science in the Department of Geosciences at Texas Tech University. He completed the sequence of B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Meteorology from the University of Oklahoma in 2008. His interests include atmospheric electricity and lightning and their links to meteorological processes, cloud physics and dynamics, scientific computing in Python, and the intersection between the arts, design, and scientific visualization. He is a member of the GOES-R GLM Science Team and past chair of the American Meteorological Society Committee on Atmospheric Electricity.

“I switched to Python from IDL/MATLAB in 2006 or so,” says Dr. Bruning. “As a lightning person, I have always had to write custom tools, as there are no point and click solutions for overlaying lightning mapping and radar data, for instance. This has motivated an interest in general purpose tools for data access and visualization that can be flexibly assembled to accomplish creative analyses. I point students toward open source scientific computing in each of the graduate courses I teach at TTU, covering thermodynamics, cloud physics, map projections, weather radar and objective analysis. I use the LDM to distribute data from the West Texas Lightning Mapping Array and new imagery from the GLM.”

Dr. Bruning was part of the initial discussions that led to the creation of the MetPy project, and he has been delighted to see Unidata grow that package in a way that adopts the open source workflow and upstream packages from the wider scientific Python community.

Enrique Curchitser

Enrique Curchitser, Users Committee

Dr. Enrique Curchitser is an Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University. He earned Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Rutgers, and received his Ph.D. in Oceanography from Rutgers in 1999.

Dr. Curchitser's primary research interests include ocean circulation and its role in the climate system, dynamics of boundary currents and shelf circulation, physical-biological interactions, development of coupled Earth System Models, and multi-scale climate dynamics and numerical modeling.

“Unidata is at the forefront of ensuring that the ever-growing geoscience data is useful to a large number of researchers and students,” he says. “I look forward to working with the Unidata users group to both help its mission and incorporate new developments into my research and classroom work.”

Casey Davenport, Users Committee

Casey Davenport

Dr. Casey Davenport is an Assistant Professor of Meteorology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She teaches courses in Meteorological Computer Applications, Dynamic Meteorology, and Numerical Modeling. She received her Masters (2009) and Ph.D. (2013) in atmospheric science from North Carolina State University.

Dr. Davenport's research focuses on evaluating the impact of spatial or temporal environmental variability on the evolution and dynamics of severe thunderstorms. The goal is to improve short-term forecasting so that forecasters can better anticipate storm behavior (e.g., produce a tornado, large hail, or weaken) as the near-storm environment evolves.

“I wanted to join the Unidata Users Committee to be at the forefront of weather data and visualization,” she says. “There are so many great Unidata tools out there for both students and researchers! I have especially been encouraging students to learn Python and MetPy, and have recently modified the Computer Applications course to include more Python-related content. Someday I hope to bring AWIPS technology to UNC Charlotte, as I think it would be an invaluable tool for our students.”

Alex Davies

Alex Davies, Users Committee

Alex Davies is an Instructor of Practical Applications in the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) Oceanography Department. In this role, Mr. Davies manages the Oceanography Department’s environmental data services, which include real-time products via the Local Data Manager (LDM), a micro-net of meteorological and estuarine sensors throughout Annapolis, MD, and a RAMADDA data repository. In the classroom, Mr. Davies develops and leads meteorological and oceanographic data processing and analysis labs, in addition to rotating tank geophysical fluid dynamics labs. Mr. Davies also serves as the USNA Command Forecaster and leads a student forecasting group that provides regular products to USNA leadership and the Annapolis, MD community. Mr. Davies has been a faculty member at USNA since 2014.

Mr. Davies’ current research projects are diverse and interdisciplinary. Recently, he has begun investigating atmospheric drivers, trends, local differences, and economic impacts of coastal nuisance flooding in Annapolis, MD. Ongoing projects include studying the intra-seasonal variability of surface ocean currents that, via teleconnections, may be driven by the Madden-Julian Osculation (MJO), and studying mesoscale physical-biological interactions in the Drake Passage by integrating data from a biogeochemical ocean float with satellite observations.

“It is an honor to serve Unidata and our community as a member of the Users Committee,” Davies said. “The USNA Oceanography Department has only recent begun using Unidata products and services so I hope to bring the perspective of a newer Unidata user. I also plan to advocate for the inclusion of more readily available and quality controlled oceanographic data into the Unidata stream. I believe this would benefit the broader geosciences community.”

Victor Gensini, Strategic Advisory Committee

Victor Gensini

Dr. Victor Gensini is an Assistant Professor of Meteorology at Northern Illinois University. He received his doctoral degree from the University of Georgia in 2014. Before taking his current position at NIU, he helped maintain the popular NEXLAB weather data website weather.cod.edu at the College of DuPage, which makes extensive use of Unidata's LDM, GEMPAK, and McIDAS programs.

Dr. Gensini's research area is extreme weather and climate, with specific interests focused on severe convective storms, synoptic/mesoscale meteorology, applied climatology, GIS techniques, geoscience data visualization, weather forecasting and climate change.

“Data display, visualization, and analysis is vital to geoscience research and curriculum,” says Dr. Gensini. “Unidata is a leader in this area and I look forward to contributing to the future of this invaluable resource.”

Dr. Gensini served on the Unidata Users Committee from 2015 through 2018.

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

Kevin Goebbert, Users Committee

Dr. Kevin Goebbert began a three-year term as Chair of the Unidata Users Committee in the spring of 2018. He is an Associate Professor of Meteorology at Valparaiso University, and has served on the Unidata Users Committee since 2014.

Kevin Tyle, Strategic Advisory Committee

Kevin Tyle

Kevin Tyle is a Senior Programmer/Analyst in the Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences (DAES) at the University at Albany (UAlbany). He served on the Unidata Users Committee from 2009 - 2015; he joined the Strategic Advisory Committee in 2015 and has renewed his commitment for a second term.

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