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February 2005

Random Profile: Shu-Peng "Ben" Ho

Every other month, Staff Notes Monthly spotlights a stochastically chosen staff member. This month we profile Shu-Peng “Ben” Ho, a project scientist in the Atmospheric Chemistry Division.

Ben Ho.

The most important question: Like many scientists, Ben is drawn to the field because of his inquisitive nature. “I’m that kind of person who always wants to know why, and because of that I try to find answers to questions about the physical world,” he says.

A specialist in radiation remote sensing, Ben studies data from MOPITT (Measurements of Pollution in the Troposphere). MOPITT, an instrument flying on NASA’s Terra satellite, measures the global distributions of carbon monoxide and methane in the troposphere in order to enhance our knowledge of the lower atmosphere and how it interacts with surface, ocean, and biomass systems.

“What I like best about my job is that I can satisfy my curiosity little by little by working on the data and solving problems,” Ben says. “And my colleagues share the same curiosity, so we feel like a team.”

The biggest challenge of his job, Ben says, is understanding the physics behind the data. “You need to know why the data look the way they do and how that will affect the environment,” he explains.

Taiwan to the United States: Ben grew up in Taipei. After completing his undergraduate degree in computer science at Feng Chia University, he wasn’t completely satisfied with the field and decided to study atmospheric science. “I wanted to know why things happen, and atmospheric science combined my computer background with science,” he says.

Ben headed across the globe to find answers, stopping in New Jersey for a master’s degree in meteorology at Rutgers and then moving to the University of Wisconsin—Madison for more graduate studies. “A lot of professors at Madison opened my eyes to the field, and I had the opportunity to work with many really intelligent people,” he recalls.

Packers fans on Broncos soil: Ben left Madison with a doctorate in atmospheric science and, though he’s a little reluctant to admit it here in Colorado, an intense passion for the Green Bay Packers. “We’re Packers fans, especially my wife. Sometimes our mood is affected by this,” he jokes. He confesses that their dream is for the Packers to beat the Broncos in Denver.

Family time: After completing his doctorate, Ben worked as a research scientist for NASA in Virginia before joining ACD in 2001. He and his wife settled in Longmont with their three children, ages 5, 7, and 9. The family likes to spend time hiking and biking, and in Denver at sports events. Ben says he’s trying to steer the kids toward science despite the fact they say they plan to be basketball players when they grow up.

Ben and his wife speak Chinese to each other and normally cook Chinese food. The family goes back to Taiwan every few years, and his mother visits them in Colorado. “I miss the family get-togethers,” he says. He also misses watching the Taiwanese people pursue idealistic dreams. “People have an impact there by doing little things to help others,” he says.

Nicole Gordon

Also in this issue...

An eye on Washington

ISSE reflections on the tsunami

Short Takes

NCAR to survey scientists, engineers

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