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
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
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
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
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
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?”