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June 2008

Random Profile

Greg Byrd

Greg Byrd

Greg Byrd.

Every other month, Staff Notes Monthly spotlights a staff ­member selected from the phone directory.This month we profile Greg Byrd in COMET.

Staff Notes: Tell me about your job, Greg.

Greg: I’m a senior project manager. I’ve been in COMET for 14 years—hard to believe, but I guess time flies when you’re having fun. COMET is a very project management-based organization, with over 50 online distance-learning projects. I’m in charge of between 20 and 25 of these projects. I supervise a staff of meteorologists and instructional designers. For the most part I do the project management, but in addition to that I’m able to get my hands on some projects myself to do content development. I really like having this flexibility. Most recently, I worked on a webcast on frontogenesis and stability, and I also worked on a Skew-T module.

Staff Notes: What’s a Skew-T?

Greg: It’s a thermodynamic diagram on which you plot rawinsonde data from weather balloons. The data consist of temperature, humidity, and wind information, and it lets you evaluate the stability, potential for thunderstorms, and all sorts of other atmospheric phenomena. We basically converted an old Air Force Skew-T hardcopy instructional manual to an interactive multimedia module on the Web. It was a vintage 1950s document that we brought up to date.

Staff Notes: What do you like best about your job?

Greg: I like the people I work with. I take a lot of satisfaction in being able to guide people in producing what I feel are very high quality—world-class, if you will—instructional modules.

Staff Notes: What is the most challenging part?

Greg: The challenge is managing a multitude of projects and trying to coordinate the various resources that you bring to those projects. COMET has a staff of about 38, with 55 different projects running. We need to very carefully stage things and prioritize.

Staff Notes: Tell me about your professional life prior to COMET.

Greg: I got my Ph.D. in meteorology from the University of Oklahoma, my master’s degree at CSU, and bachelor’s at Penn State. And I spent eight years at the State University of New York College at Brockport, as a faculty member. So I’ve been all over the place.

Staff Notes: Where do you live now?

Greg: I live in Longmont. My wife, Mary, is a speech-language pathologist. I have a daughter, Lizzy, who is 17, just finishing up her junior year at Niwot High School. She’s really into arts and performance and has been in several plays and is in three choirs. She also plays golf. And I have a son, Charlie, 14, who goes to school in Lyons. His first love is ice hockey, and he runs cross-country.

Staff Notes: Rumor has it that, when you’re not shuttling back and forth between concerts and hockey games, you play golf. Tell me about your golf game.

Greg: [chuckling] This is how I describe my golf game: The average golf course is four miles long. If you play golf like I do, you walk eight miles.

Staff Notes: Sounds like good exercise. What else do you for fun?

Greg: We like to spend time in the mountains and have a place in Winter Park, where we go hiking and skiing.Staff Notes: Do you have a favorite weather ­phenomenon?

Greg: I consider my expertise to be in winter ­weather—mesoscale features associated with winter storms. When I was at SUNY, I did a lot of work on
lake-effect snowstorms, so I guess that’s my favorite.

Staff Notes: How did you first get interested in weather?

Greg: I’ve loved weather since I was seven years old, and knew then that I wanted to be a meteorologist. When I was about five I wanted to be a train engineer, and when I was six it was deep-sea diver because “Sea Hunt” with Lloyd Bridges was the big show. And then the meteorology bug bit me.

Staff Notes: Do you have any advice for aspiring atmospheric scientists?

Greg: An essential thing for young scientists coming along is going to be advocacy, since the reality is that we’re in a situation where funding is tight and everyone is competing for dollars. Scientists need to understand how the system works on the congressional level and be advocates for the sciences.

Staff Notes: Last question. What would you do if you won the lottery?

Greg: Well, I’d play a lot more golf. But I’d probably continue to work in my profession, with a lot more flexibility. I’m delighted to be in this field and it’s really great to work with such a wonderful group of people at COMET. Sometimes I catch myself thinking, “Wow, what am I doing here among all these great people?”

In this issue...

Measuring the Arctic's haze and smoke

NCAR names three new senior scientists

UCAR readies new financial management tools

Bluefire burns hot - with less energy

Researchers study monsoon in Taiwan

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