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.
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.
Christopher Hennon, Strategic Advisory Committee
Dr. Chris Hennon is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of North Carolina Asheville. After earning his Ph.D. at The Ohio State University in 2003, Dr. Hennon served as a UCAR post-doctoral researcher and then visiting scientist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, FL. There, he studied the effectiveness of using scatterometer winds to diagnose and forecast tropical cyclones. In 2005, Dr. Hennon accepted a position at UNC Asheville, continuing his work in tropical cyclogenesis, satellite derived winds, and undergraduate education. Since his graduate school days, he has been a dedicated user and onsite administrator of a number of Unidata software products, including GEMPAK, LDM, THREDDS, and more recently AWIPS.
“I'm excited to serve on the Strategic Advisory Committee. Coming from a small, liberal arts, undergraduate institution, I think I can bring a unique set of experiences and ideas to the group,” says Dr. Hennon. “Unidata plays such a critical role in atmospheric science education; I'm pleased to be able to have a small part in helping to shape the organization's future engagement with its members.”
Nicole Mölders, Strategic Advisory Committee
Dr. Nicole Mölders is a Professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Since 1988, she has been involved in numerical modeling of the physics and chemistry of the atmosphere. She uses mesoscale models to investigate human and natural (e.g. fire, volcanic eruptions, anthropogenic emissions, land-use changes) impacts on weather, air quality, and climate. Dr. Mölders received her doctorate from the University of Cologne in 1992, and was honored with the Heisenberg Fellowship for Physical Hydrology in the years 1999-2001.
Dr. Javier Fochesatto, Professor and Chair Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Alaska Fairbanks nominated Dr. Mölders to the committee. He notes:
“[Dr. Mölders'] initiative in the area related to the Unidata Program was demonstrated by the development of a special course for graduates in Computational Meteorology that all faculty in the department teach. All students are exposed to a great diversity of numerical approaches and computational platforms applied to Meteorology. Recently she has been working on incorporating Python to our current lectures — an effort I see is convergent with our current efforts in the AMS organization.”
Kimberly Wood, Users Committee
Dr. Kimberly Wood is an Assistant Professor of Meteorology in the Department of Geosciences at Mississippi State University. She received her Ph.D. in Atmospheric Sciences (Remote Sensing) from the University of Arizona in 2012, and has been teaching at Mississippi State since 2015.
Dr. Wood has been using Unidata software her entire research career, beginning with McIDAS and netCDF in graduate school. She became interested in Python in 2012, and has recently begun using MetPy to investigate how the environment impacts tropical cyclone structure. Dr. Wood also uses Unidata Python tools to access data on THREDDS Data Servers, saying the ability to use Python makes it much easier to use large datasets in her research.
“Unidata software and tools have also supported my educational efforts. I'm a more effective teacher because I can create maps of model or reanalysis data to illustrate concepts in the classroom, and I hope to convey my passion for effective data visualization to my students, many of whom will serve as broadcast meteorologists,” says Dr. Wood. “By serving on this committee, I hope to learn more about what Unidata offers and how to share that information with my institution — while also providing feedback for future potential development. I'm excited to discuss how my students and I have benefited from Python as well as discover new and improved ways to visualize data.”
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.
Lena Heuscher, Users Committee
Lena Heuscher is beginning a two-year term as the Users Committee's Graduate Student Representative. She is pursuing a Doctoral degree in Atmospheric Science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. She received her Bachelor's degree in Physics from the Montana State University and her Master's Degree from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln in 2016.
Heuscher is the recipient of the American Geophysical Union's Dr. Edmond M. Dewan Young Scientist Scholarship for Atmospheric Sciences and Space Physics. Her current research focuses on using satellite-observed lightning and precipitation, including data from the GOES-16/17 satellites' Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM), to develop markers for extreme storms.
As Graduate Student Representative, Heuscher hopes to improve student knowledge of the availability of datasets and visualization techniques through Unidata.
Returning Committee Members
One sitting committee member has agreed to extend his term of service:
Chuck Pavloski, Strategic Advisory Committee
Dr. Chuck Pavloski is the Research Innovations with Scientists and Engineers (RISE) Team Lead at Pennsylvania State University's Institute for CyberScience (ICS). Prior to joining Penn State's HPC division, he was Computing Director and Senior Research Associate from 2002 to 2016 in Penn State's Department of Meteorology; he still provides computational consulting to Penn State's Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences and is a former XSEDE Campus Champion. Dr. Pavloski has served on the Unidata Strategic Advisory Committee since 2016.