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.”

Dr. Abernathey had planned to join the committee in the fall of 2021, but ended up delaying the beginning of his term by a year.

Sen Chiao, Strategic Advisory Committee

Sen Chiao

Dr. Sen Chiao is a professor in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies at Howard University in Washington, DC and the Center Director for the NOAA Cooperative Science Center in Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology (NCAS-M), also located at Howard.

“I have been using data and software provided by Unidata for research and teaching for many years,”” says Dr. Chiao. “I have the view that one day Unidata will be just like Google providing all different interesting services to the atmospheric science community.”

Dr. Chiao served on the Unidata Users Committee from 2013-2016.

Redina Finch, Strategic Advisory Committee

Redina Finch

Dr. Redina Finch is a Professor in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Geographic Information Sciences at Western Illinois University (WIU). WIU is primarily a teaching university, where Dr. Finch strives to bring technology to undergraduate and graduate students. She runs a classroom Linux lab where students use IDV and MetPy on a regular basis. She also created a Meteorology Research Lab where students use the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model, Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS), and Gibson Ridge 2 Analyst Program (GR2Analysist) for research projects. Students also use GR2Analyst to analyze data from the WIU dual-pol radar, which Dr. Finch was instrumental in procuring.

“I love computer technology and am rewarded by the fact that my students are eager to learn technology too,” says Finch. “Unidata is at the forefront of making data and tools accessible to the geoscience community. I'm happy to be a part of the Unidata Strategic Advisory Committee, grateful for the opportunity to serve, and excited to contribute to the future of Unidata.”

Aaron Kennedy, Users Committee

Aaron Kennedy

Dr. Aaron Kennedy is an Associate Professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of North Dakota. He also serves as the Graduate Director for his department. Throughout his student and professional career, Aaron has used Unidata tools such as GEMPAK, IDV, and libraries like NetCDF. In recent years, Aaron has embraced new tools like MetPy and various other Python packages from other groups.

A big proponent of open science, Dr. Kennedy has transitioned to making science open not only for software, but also hardware with his Open Snowflake Camera for Research and Education (OSCRE) instrument. He is excited to bring his experiences to the Unidata User Committee!

Todd Murphy, Users Committee

Todd Murphy

Dr. Todd Murphy is an Associate Professor of in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Louisiana, Monroe. His recent research focuses on the study how tornadoes form from squall lines.

“I’ve known about Unidata and its services for quite a while — going back to my undergraduate days,” says Murphy. “However, it really came into focus when I took the job at ULM. Being faculty in a small Atmospheric Science program within a small, regionally focused university, the services and opportunities provided by Unidata play a significant role in our teaching, research, and experiential opportunities provided to students. From software packages like AWIPS, IDV, and metPY, to the Python based training available, to data access services, our faculty roles would be more difficult without Unidata.”

“First and foremost, I'm happy to serve and give back to the community,” he says. “I'm also excited to share the perspective and technology challenges faced by a small teaching focused program during my time on the committee.”

Craig Ramseyer, Users Committee

Craig Ramseyer

Dr. Craig Ramseyer is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. His primary line of research examines hydroclimatic extreme events through the implementation of machine learning techniques. While he uses a range of Unidata products and tools in his research, Dr. Ramseyer has also created a course for undergraduate and graduate students called "Climate Data Analysis and Programming." The course exposes students to a vast array of atmospheric and oceanic data sources, including some distributed by Unidata. Additionally, students build scripts that implement MetPy and netCDF routines to produce efficient data analyses and visualizations.

Dr. Ramseyer is excited about the opportunity to contribute to the Users Committee as the tools and data the Unidata program has offered to the community have been critical to both his research agenda and instructional design.

Keah Schuenemann, Users Committee

Keah Schuenemann

Dr. Keah Schuenemann is a Professor of Meteorology and the Director of General Studies at the Metropolitan State University of Denver where she teaches Global Climate Change, Dynamic Meteorology, and Advanced Synoptic Meteorology. MSU Denver is a Hispanic serving institution with a long-lived undergraduate program in meteorology.

“I have fond memories of using GARP, GEMPAK, and VIS-5D back in the day at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, but am grateful for the more modern IDV, which I use heavily with my students in synoptic lab,” says Schuenemann. “I believe I straddle two generations of technology users, one who had the opportunity to develop their research materials in Python, and one still using IDL, NCL, or maybe MATLAB. We're convinced it's worth learning Python, but don't have time to translate research materials. I'm in the classroom all week teaching 6-12 credits a semester with no graduate students to help teach or grade, while juggling administrative work, and time slips away with no real progress towards confidence-building in python.”

“On the Unidata committee, I’d like to represent what I think of as a large group of folks in the atmospheric sciences who struggle to make the leap in our programming language of choice, while wanting to teach our students the latest and greatest.”

Returning Committee Members

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

John Allen

John Allen, Strategic Advisory Committee

Dr. John Allen is beginning a three-year term on the Strategic Advisory Committee. Dr. Allen is an Assistant Professor at Central Michigan University. He has served on the Unidata Users Committee since 2017.

Victor Gensini, Strategic Advisory Committee

Victor Gensini

Dr. Victor Gensini is taking the role of chair of the Strategic Advisory Committee. Dr. 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.

Kimberly Wood, Strategic Advisory Committee

Kimberly Wood

Dr. Kimberly Wood is beginning a three-year term on the Strategic Advisory Committee. Dr. Wood is an Associate Professor of Meteorology in the Department of Geosciences at Mississippi State University. They received their Ph.D. in Atmospheric Sciences (Remote Sensing) from the University of Arizona in 2012, and have been teaching at Mississippi State since 2015. They have served on the Unidata Users Committee since 2019.

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