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August 1998

Everybody needs a niche: How two SOARS protégés found theirs

Finding one's calling can be a matter of trial and error, the result of a systematic search, or a happy product of synchronicity. There's a little of each in the hunt that protégés undertake for research topics in the Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Research and Science (SOARS) program. (See the last issue of Staff Notes Monthly for an introduction to SOARS, now in its third summer at UCAR.)

Roger Pielke, Jr., and Naressa Cofield.

Before each summer's group of protégés arrives in Boulder, the project gives them a head start by making tentative matches with NCAR or UOP scientists in their general fields of interest. Some returning students pick up where they left off with a previous summer's science mentor. For new protégés, their first summer may be the first chance they've had to evaluate an assigned research project in the light of their own goals and interests. For Naressa Cofield, the initial choice of science mentor was a perfect fit. Another newcomer, Cherelle Blazer, undertook a search to find the right science mentor for herself.

Naressa leaped into the NCAR research setting after only two years of undergraduate work at Alabama A&M University. There, she's carrying two majors: chemistry and biology. That would seem to point her toward ACD, which is hosting several protégés this year. However, Naressa's biological specialty is ecotoxicology, the impacts of environmental change on life and society. So SOARS matched Naressa with Roger Pielke, Jr. (ESIG).

Roger was out of town the week Naressa arrived in Boulder, but in her introductory packet she found that Roger had a topic in mind for her: the relationship betwen floods and society. "My initial thought was, 'Floods? What am I going to do on floods?' I had no idea." By the time Roger returned, the topic had captured her interest--a good thing, since the protégés have only two months to mount an investigation and present their results at the SOARS Colloquium.

The SOARS Colloquium is coming up

This year's on-site SOARS protégés will present their summer's work in the SOARS Colloquium, scheduled for 10-13 August. Sessions will alternate between ML and FL. Watch the Calendar section of This Week at UCAR for dates and locations. All staff are invited to the farewell reception for this year's protégés at the FL cafeteria atrium on Thursday, 13 August, from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. For more information, contact Beverly Johnson, ext. 8623, beverlyj@ucar.edu.

"Some people believe that changes in climate have led to more and different types of precipitation events, thus leading to more damaging floods," Naressa explains. The upward trend in flood damage is clear, but it's less clear how much of a role societal and meteorological changes have each played. "Roger gave me some of the research on the factors behind flood damage," says Naressa. Her first task was to assemble a bibliography of "different ways of calculating precipitation"--hourly, daily, or seasonal.

"Now I'm going back and doing another search for 1992-97 to get the five most current measurement techniques." With the computational help of Mary Downton, Naressa will assemble a unified data base for precipitation across various regions and types of measurement. The ultimate goal: "We're going to be looking at the correlation between trends in precipitation and trends in damaging floods."

Naressa's project has dovetailed nicely with her college coursework thus far, she says: "Everything I've learned at school has been useful. I'm getting the opportunity to put two years of coursework to practical application." Working with Roger, she adds, has been "a wonderful experience. He's a neat guy and his communication skills are excellent."

Cherelle and Naressa became fast friends when they arrived in Boulder, partly because both were initially assigned to work in ESIG. "But that project just didn't suit my background," says Cherelle, who graduates from Louisiana's Southern A&M University in December with a bachelor's degree in urban forestry science. "My community mentor [Beth Holland] mentioned that Steve [ATD] might need someone to work with him." However, she adds with a chuckle, "I found out that engineering wasn't my forte."

Then Cherelle's original ESIG mentor, John Magistro, suggested that she contact Alex Guenther in ACD. "I met with Alex and we hit it off immediately," says Cherelle.

Cherelle Blazer.

She's now involved in two lines of research. Both involve the Frost Phytotron, the climate-controlled plant research facility just below the ML main entrance. One project is to measure the emissions of oxygenated hydrocarbons from grass samples. The other is an analysis of isoprene emissions from oak leaves.

Growing her own grass samples, Cherelle is comparing old and new measurement techniques: traditional gas chromatography against a new continuous-measurement device designed by Eric Apel to detect formaldehyde and methyl bromine. Before the summer is out, she also hopes to use a new advanced gas chromatograph that works in conjunction with a sample preconcentrator being built by Dan Riemer.

Like the SOARS protégés themselves, the plants under Cherelle's watchful eye are developing on an accelerated schedule. She's simulating a growing season by putting plants under a heat lamp and increasing the daytime temperature every few days. The goal is to better understand the impact of heat flux on isoprene emissions.

Cherelle says her determination to find the right SOARS project has paid off. Upon arriving in ACD, "I hit the ground running. It's what I've been working on in school. I like to work with plants, and it's great to get the lab time in. As an undergrad, you don't have access to the kinds of instruments that I do here. I really love what I'm doing." •BH

Soars proteges 1998

Protégé
Science research mentor
Writing mentor
Community mentor
Research interest
Sharon Abbas
FL3 room 3076, ext. 8964
Raj Pandya, MMM
Joan Chiszar, MMM
Anne Jefferson, ACD
Comparing locations of cold cloud tops and maximum radar returns in mesoscale convective systems
Cherelle Blazer
ML room 588, ext. 1886
Alex Guenther, ACD
Bjorn Johns, UNAVCO
Beth Holland, ACD
Investigating emissions of oxygenated volatile organic compounds from grasses and the impact of grazing and harvesting on these emissions
Shauntel Carwell
ML room 11D, ext. 1276
Aaron Andersen, SCD
Sue Schauffler, ACD
Pete Peterson, SCD
Designing a system to allow scientists to search NCAR publications and proceedings with one query
Andrew Church
FL3 room 3014, ext. 8996
Mary Barth/
Wojciech Grabowski, MMM
Kay Miloshevich, COMET
Terry Woods, HR
Examining the regional effects of aerosols from Mexico City and southeastern China
Naressa Cofield
FL2 room 2021, ext. 8110
Roger Pielke, Jr., ESIG
Jo Hansen, Unidata
Susan Jesuroga, COMET
Analyzing precipitation and its relationship to flood damage in the United States
Michelle Dunn
ML room 290A, ext. 1645
Chris Torrence, CGD
Steve Hammond, SCD
Jocelyn Brown, HR
Examining changes in El Niño on interdecadal time scales in the NCAR climate system model
Catherine Edwards
ML room 601, ext. 1727
Bill Large, CGD
Janine Goldstein, JOSS
Bev Johnson, SOARS
Investigating the interaction between sea ice and the ocean-surface boundary layer in a one-dimensional model
Lacey Holland
FL1 room 2162, ext. 8418
Marcia Politovich, RAP
Carol Park, RAP
Susan Montgomery-Hodge, UCAR
Compiling a winter cloud-layer climatology from U.S. soundings for 1972-1990
Paul Lowe
ML room 364, ext. 1405
Steve Massie, ACD
Peter Hildebrand, ATD
Matthew Hecht, CGD
Examining El Niño's effect on the geographical distribution of upper-tropospheric water vapor and clouds
Rachel Mayfield
ML room 569, ext. 1874
Guy Brasseur/Mike Newchurch, ACD
Peter Hildebrand, ATD
Katy Schmoll, F&A
Studying the sources of apparent enhancements in methyl cyanide near the tropopause and the global distribution and budgets of methyl and hydrogen cyanide
Shirley Murillo
FL1 room 2101, ext. 8825
Wen-Chau Lee, ATD
Bob Henson, UCAR
Delaine Orendorff, HR
Deriving the surface wind fields of hurricanes from WSR-88D radar data
Zobeida Ocasio
ML room 569, ext. 1874
Peter Hess, ACD
Nancy Dawson, SCD
Lia Pennington, JOSS
Investigating transport and chemistry in the boundary layer
Sharon Perez-Suarez
ML room 600B, ext. 1715
Scott Doney, CGD
Elizabeth Sulzman, CGD
Teresa Rivas, ACD
Studying the behavior of a coupled atmosphere-ocean-ice model and the instabilities related to sea ice.
Darnell Powers
Jeffco, ext. 1036
Darrel Baumgardner, ATD
Marie Boyko, CU
Bob Roesch, HR
Tracking energy transfer between the ocean, sea ice, and atmosphere as part of the SHEBA (Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic Ocean) project
Stephanie Rivale
ML room 569, ext. 1481
Sasha Madronich, ACD
Marie Boyko, CU
Pat Baker, FSS
Using a tropospheric ultraviolet-radiation model to evaluate radiation-chemistry feedbacks in Mexico City
Monica Rivera
Jeffco, ext. 1053
Sue Durlak, ATD
Marie Boyko, CU
Nancy Norris, HR
Designing and testing the wet impactor, an instrument that will fly on the Indian Ocean Experiment (INDOEX)
Ismael Rodriguez
FL3 room 3095, ext. 8947
Greg McFarquhar, MMM
Rebecca Bevirt, SCD
Karla Edwards, HR
Modeling ice-cloud crystals and investigating how crystal shape influences single-scattering properties
Rachel Vincent
ML room 42I, ext. 1279
Mark Taylor, SCD
Brian Bevirt, SCD
Tom Windham, SOARS
Creating new algorithms for computing Fekete (optimal interpolation) points
Jennifer Zabel
ML room 592, ext. 1890
Alex Guenther, ACD
Rene Munoz, ISS
Tom Windham, SOARS
Evaluating methods of landscape characterization for trace-gas emission models

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Edited by Bob Henson, bhenson@ucar.edu

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