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February 2006

New Scientists I have diverse interests

NCAR has hired six Scientists I as it continues to strengthen its junior scientist ranks. Spanning several divisions, the new scientists have research interests in areas as diverse as short-term forecasting, new instrument development, and modeling the interior processes of stars.

"This is a remarkable group of talented researchers who bring a diversity of strengths that complement our existing staff," says NCAR director Tim Killeen.

A search committee from across NCAR helped select the six junior scientists from a large and impressive pool. The NCAR director's office will share the initial costs of the new hires with the divisions that employ them.

The hires represent the fourth major class of new scientists since 2001. Following are brief profiles of the new scientists.

David Dowell
David Dowell.

David Dowell

David has a long-time interest in tornadoes and other types of storms. He has used data from mobile Doppler radars and other sources to analyze tornado winds and airborne debris with an eye toward better understanding the internal structure of tornadoes and ultimately learning more about how they form.

While he plans to continue this research in MMM, he will spend most of his time trying to improve our ability to produce real-time analyses and forecasts of convective storms. He is particularly interested in assimilating multisensor data—particularly from radar and other ground-based instruments—into mesoscale and cloud-scale models. Such work will help forecasters with very short-term predictions of convective storms. He is also planning a field program called VORTEX2 in which he and others will collect very detailed observations of isolated convective storms and their environments. These observations should help scientists understand storm dynamics better and assess the nature of errors in numerical-model forecasts of these storms.

David, who has a Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma, was an NCAR postdoctoral fellow from 2001 to 2004. He returns to the organization from the Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

Travis Metcalfe
Travis Metcalfe.

Travis Metcalfe

In CISL, Travis focuses on the new field of applying seismological analysis to the study of Sun-like stars. The technique enables researchers to learn about the interiors of pulsating stars, including the Sun, from seismic waves that propagate through a star's interior and cause brightness changes on its surface.

As scientists collect more data from pulsating stars, Travis's goal is to develop a computational method to derive reliable seismological information from these observations. This will help researchers understand the structure and evolution of the Sun in a broader physical context. He has already developed such a method for the study of white dwarf stars.

Travis has worked in HAO since 2004 as an NSF astronomy and astrophysics fellow. After receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin, he did postdoctoral work at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and the Theoretical Astrophysics Center at Denmark's Arhus University. He is interested in communicating science to the public and has helped develop content for EO's Windows to the Universe Web site.

Dirk Richter
Dirk Richter.

Dirk Richter

A familiar figure at NCAR, Dirk came to ACD as a postdoctoral researcher in 2000 after earning a Ph.D. in physical electronics from Rice University. He moved over to ATD (now EOL) as a project scientist in 2002. He is working on the development of new laser-based spectrometers as part of the Analytical Photonics and Optoelectronics Laboratory (APOL).

APOL's goal is to develop instruments, based on telecommunication lasers and optical fiber technology, that can measure trace gases that occur in the atmosphere in amounts as small as a few parts per trillion. One of Dirk's projects is developing a spectrometer for high-precision measurements of certain carbon dioxide isotopes. The spectrometer could be deployed in the field, unlike other instruments that require researchers to collect air samples and bring them back to a lab for analysis. (For more about APOL.)

Dirk, who has a joint appointment as a Scientist I and a Research Engineer I, is also developing a laser-based wind profiler for the High-performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research (HIAPER)

Yaga Richter
Yaga Richter.

Jadwiga (Yaga) Richter

Yaga's principal interest is representing small-scale atmospheric processes in global models. As a postdoctoral researcher, she focused on parameterizing convectively generated gravity waves in NCAR's Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model, thereby helping researchers simulate winds, temperature, and transport in the middle atmosphere.

In CGD, in addition to working on gravity waves, she is going to work on improving the representation of convective events, such as thunderstorms and squall lines, in the NCAR Community Climate System Model. Her work has potential for improving precipitation patterns and future climate simulations.

Yaga has a Ph.D. in atmospheric sciences from the University of Washington. She first came to NCAR as a visiting scientist in 2002. She has a strong interest in education and outreach and is currently working on educational resources for Girl Scouts related to weather, and a learning module for graduate students about gravity waves.

Petter Weibring
Petter Weibring.

Petter Weibring

After getting his Ph.D. in physics from the Lund Institute of Technology in Sweden, Petter came to NCAR as a postdoc in EOL in 2003. He works in APOL, where his main focus is developing instruments and experimental methods for understanding the role of various trace gases in the troposphere and lower stratosphere.

Petter's expertise includes optical remote sensing and laser technologies. Working with Dirk and Alan Fried in APOL, he helped develop a spectrometer to detect formaldehyde at concentrations of just five parts per trillion. He is also working on the development of software systems to control instruments remotely and quickly analyze their findings.

Petter is especially interested in hydrocarbons and their impact on climate change and atmospheric chemistry. One of his main projects is the development of a compact, high-resolution spectrometer that will measure several hydrocarbons simultaneously, helping scientists better understand chemical reactions in the atmosphere. Such an instrument would be versatile enough to be mounted on different aircraft, including HIAPER.

Christine Wiedinmyer
Christine Wiedinmyer.

Christine Wiedinmyer

Christine came to ACD in 2001 as a project scientist after getting her Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Texas. Her main interests are natural and anthropogenic impacts on air quality.

Using satellite and ground-based measurements, Christine has developed inventories of particles and gases emitted by wildfires. Policymakers can add this information to air quality models to help determine the impacts of fires on air pollution. Building on this work, Christine will input fire emission data into forecasts for the upcoming Megacities Impact on Regional and Global Environment experiment (MIRAGE), thereby helping researchers identify sources of pollution plumes upwind and downwind of Mexico City.

Christine is also looking into emissions from natural vegetation and cultivated areas, such as tree plantations. These emissions can affect air quality and climate in wide-ranging ways. In addition, she is taking part in an EPA-funded project to examine the impact of climate change on regional air quality.

• by David Hosansky

Also in this issue...

Dialing in: staffers save gas, time by working from home

New Scientists I have diverse interests

UCAR takes avian flu precautions
Staying Healthy

Random Profile: Will Piper

2006 AMS awards

Delphi Question: Delphi confidentiality

Sunrise project

Just One Look


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