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.

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.

Ryan Abernathey, Strategic Advisory Committee

Ryan Abernathey

Dr. Ryan Abernathey is an Associate Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University's Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO). He is the Principal Investigator for the LDEO Ocean Transport Group, whose mission is to “advance scientific understanding of how stuff moves around the ocean and how this transport influences Earth’s large-scale climate and ecosystems.”

“I became aware of Unidata's work through my involvement with Pangeo, a community focused on developing open-source tools for big-data geoscience research,” says Abernathey. “Unidata plays a unique and crucial role in maintaining the software and data infrastructure that underpin much of our research enterprise, such as the netCDF file format and associated libraries. Right now we are in a period of rapid technological innovation and change, as many researchers adopt new tools (such as AI/ML) and new ways of working (such as cloud computing). At the same time, the science community is placing more emphasis on the importance of open data, open source, and reproducibility in research, all areas where Unidata excels.”

“I'm enthusiastic to help Unidata adapt to this new landscape, and I hope my expertise will be useful to the committee.”

Mike Zuranski, Users Committee

Mike Zuranski

Mr. Mike Zuranski is a Support Analyst and Product Developer at the College of DuPage Department of Meteorology, and is heavily involved with the College's well-known NexLab weather data website. He is the recipient of Unidata's 2020 Russell L. DeSouza award for outstanding service to the community.

“I enjoy being at the intersection of meteorology and computer science,” says Zuranski. “The College of DuPage has been a long-time user of Unidata tools and services, and operations such as ours would not be possible without that support. I'm excited to give back to the community where I can, and the Users Committee is an excellent opportunity to do that.”

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.

Jon Thielen, Users Committee

Jon Thielen

Jon Thielen is beginning a two-year term as the Users Committee's Graduate Student Representative. He is pursuing a Doctoral degree in Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University with Russ Schumacher as his advisor. He received both his Bachelor's (2019) and Master's (2021) degrees in Meteorology from Iowa State University.

A former Unidata summer intern, Thielen continues to actively participate in open-source software development in the Python ecosystem for the geosciences. His current research, carried out under the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program, focuses on data-driven investigations into the structure and organization of mesoscale convective systems and other mid-latitude severe convective storms, particularly the classification of their morphology using machine learning.

As Graduate Student Representative, Thielen hopes to share the great utility of the software and data tools available through Unidata to students across the university community as well as communicate where students' needs are not yet being met. He also hopes to promote student engagement in open-source projects and communities in the geosciences.

Returning Committee Members

Several sitting committee members have agreed to extend their terms of service:

Eric Bruning, Strategic Advisory Committee

Eric Bruning

Dr. Eric Bruning is an Associate Professor of Atmospheric Science in the Department of Geosciences at Texas Tech University. He has served on the Unidata Users Committee since 2018, and will be joining the Strategic Advisory Committee.

Casey Davenport, Users Committee

Casey Davenport

Dr. Casey Davenport is an Assistant Professor of Meteorology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She has served on the Unidata Users committee since 2017, and has renewed her commitment for a second term.

Alex Davies

Alex Davies, Users Committee

Alex Davies is an Instructor of Practical Applications in the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) Oceanography Department. He has served on the Unidata Users committee since 2017, and has renewed his commitment for a second term.

Victor Gensini, Strategic Advisory Committee

Victor Gensini

Dr. Victor Gensini is an Associate Professor of Meteorology at Northern Illinois University. He served on the Unidata Users Committee from 2015 through 2018 and has been a member of the Strategic Advisory Committee since 2018. He has renewed his commitment for a second term.

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