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SPRING 2014 Newsletter

Hi SOARS family, and welcome to our spring newsletter!

For eighteen years, SOARS has been finding ways to help our proteges enter and succeed in graduate school. But we always struggle with the many more deserving students who we are unable to reach. To help with this, this winter SOARS started a new webinar series, open to anyone, which offers career information relevant for the atmospheric sciences. Read on to learn more about the program. This summer we are also piloting a new program for academically younger students, the SOARS Academy. This program includes a week-long NCAR visit, attendance at a conference, and ongoing mentoring support. We look forward to reporting how that goes in an upcoming edition.

In this newsletter we also take a look at our recruiting efforts (spoiler alert - you are extremely important!), provide an update from conference season, and profile several of our protégés who have brought their interests in atmospheric science to wind energy research. As always, it is thrilling to see where life takes our talented alumni!

Finally, we'd like to offer our congratulations to SOARS alumni Adrianna Hackett and Frances Roberts-Gregory, who have just been awarded NSF graduate research fellowships for their PhD research in Atmospheric Science at the University of Colorado - Boulder and Environmental Science at the University of California - Berkeley respectively. Frances was also awarded the Ford Foundation fellowship, an outstanding accomplishment!

We hope you enjoy our newsletter. If there are stories you’d like to see in upcoming editions, or you have comments about what you read in this issue, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Bec Batchelor, on behalf of the SOARS team



SOARS Career Webinar Series

We are excited to introduce our new Career Webinar series. These free webinars are aimed at providing career information relevant to the atmospheric and related sciences and are geared towards undergraduate/graduate students and faculty supporting the students' career development. Our first webinar, “How to Apply for an Internship at NCAR” was held in December and reached approximately 50 students and faculty.  Our next webinar, a panel discussion on “Careers in the Atmospheric Sciences” will be held in late April, with future topics to include applying to graduate school and transitioning from a two- to a four-year college.  We welcome suggestions for webinars that would be useful for you or students – please contact us!


Conference Season

Dereka at her posterAbove: Protégé Dereka Carroll discusses her poster at AMS

Since our last newsletter, SOARS protégés have attended the AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco (5 students), the American Meteorological Society annual meeting in Atlanta (12 students) and the 39th Northeastern Storm Conference (1 student) in Rutland, VT. Attending conferences gives our protégés the opportunity to not only share their work with the scientific community, but to network, learn and to interact with our SOARS alumni. As always, they did a fantastic job presenting themselves and their work. We also appreciated the SOARS commitment to giving back, with both current and former protégés helping with the AMS public outreach event, Weatherfest, and recruiting at the SOARS booth. For a complete listing of student presentations, please click here.


Applications for 2014

Applications for SOARS 2014 are now closed and offers have been made. We were once again fortunate to have many more excellent applications than we have positions available!  As part of our application process, we collect information regarding where students heard about SOARS. Sixty-seven percent of this year’s pool reported word of mouth, either through a personal recommendation, an email or newsletter forwarded to them, or at a conference. Our anecdotal experience tells us these are the candidates that most often become our protégés. So please accept our warmest thanks for sharing these newsletters, talking about us to your students, classmates and friends, writing recommendation letters and sending us the best candidates for the SOARS program. We are grateful for your support!


How did you hear about SOARS

Graphic based on the responses to the question “How did you hear about SOARS?” in SOARS applications, 2014. Word of mouth includes recommendation, email/newsletter and conference categories. Other includes other websites, such as NSF REU site, print brochures and career fairs.


Harnessing the Wind

Using wind turbines for energy is hardly new technology, but as states continue to mandate increased renewable energy generation, the number of wind farms in the United States has grown dramatically over the last decade. Here at NCAR, scientists from the Research Applications Laboratory are working with Xcel Energy to better forecast the wind at their wind-farms so that they can more efficiently utilize their energy sources while maintaining reliability of their energy supply. This partnership has reduced carbon emissions and is just one example of how atmospheric scientists can become involved in wind energy research. Other research possibilities span the fields of engineering, meteorology, environmental science and the growing field of renewable energy.

Second-year protégé Meghan Applegate has been interested in wind energy for some time, and this summer will be working on her first wind energy project with Dr. Eugene Takle at Iowa State University. Meghan’s project will involve installing instruments at a local wind farm to assess the accuracy of wind direction forecasts. Their goal is to study the wake that forms around the turbines and attempt to create a link between the forecasts, the wakes, and the projected power output. Meghan, however, is not the first SOARS protégé to be involved in wind energy research.

Bret with familyBret with his fiancée and son.

In 2006, Bret Harper (SOARS 2004-2006) completed a SOARS research project to quantify uncertainty in ENSO on wind power in the Northern Great Plains. He went on to complete an MS in Energy and Resources at the University of California Berkley, and to work as a renewable energy consultant all over the world, including California, Hawaii, Japan, Germany and the UK, gathering environmental skills regarding air quality, carbon markets, ecology, hazardous waste, water and wastewater as he went. Bret is now the Associate Director of Carbon Research at RepuTex, a carbon and renewable energy market consulting company based in Melbourne, Australia. In this role, Bret leads the company’s power and energy markets modelling team, overseeing their analysis of the Australian electricity, gas, renewable energy and carbon markets. He is frequently tapped as an expert for conferences and the media. He says “renewable energy has always kind of been a common thread, and wind energy’s been a big part of that. Right now I enjoy doing energy market forecasting and scenario analysis for the Australian market. It’s a contentious topic in Australia so I enjoy cutting though all of that for our clients and MPs and giving them a clear picture they can make decisions on.”

Daniel with wind turbines Daniel with wind turbines in Europe.

Daniel Pollak (SOARS 2009-2011) is following in Bret’s footsteps, and has combined SOARS projects with graduate studies focused on renewable energy. In 2011 he worked on a SOARS project that introduced him to the meteorological aspects of renewable energy, and spurred him to pursue a Masters education in Wind Energy Meteorology. He says "I found it exciting to be able to use my meteorological background for research that increased understanding of the wind characteristics in complex terrain. Such knowledge facilitates improved wind farm siting, and therefore helps to maximize energy output and reduce the amount of fossil fuel needed to support our increasing electricity demand. Given Europe’s pioneering efforts in the wind industry and my passion for travel and cultural experience, I accepted an offer be in the inaugural class of the European Wind Energy Master’s Program. I will graduate this August with an MSc in Wind Energy Engineering from the Technical University of Denmark and a MSc in Engineering Wind Physics from the University of Oldenburg (Germany). I am writing my thesis in collaboration with DONG Energy, Denmark’s largest energy company, on the topic of characterizing offshore ambient turbulence intensity. After graduation, I hope to work on projects involving wind resource and wind farm site assessment, from both scientific/engineering and consulting/business perspectives." 

Meghan with her posterMeghan with her 2013 SOARS poster at AMS.

As the newest SOARS protégé to be passionate about wind energy, Meghan says “I feel excited about participating in some field work with these turbines to understand how they work and to learn more about improving efficiency of these wind farms through actual meteorology research and forecasting.”

We are always excited to see our SOARS protégés and alumni making a difference in their chosen fields and wish Bret, Daniel and Meghan ongoing success!


Conference Presentations

AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA, December 2013


Stone Abdullah: “An investigation of evapotranspiration rates within Midwestern agricultural systems in response to elevated carbon dioxide and ozone concentrations and climate change”

Gabriela De La Cruz Tello: ”Pacific Northwest ecosystem responses to atmospheric changes in the 21st century”

Manuel Hernandez: “How to better link regional monsoon circulation to local hydroclimate for interpreting tree-ring chronologies in Southeast Asia”.

Ana Ordonez: “Quantitative Assessment of Antarctic Climate Variability and Change”.

Oral Presentations

Andre Perkins: “Methane Emission Resolving Power of the Proposed GEO-CAPE Satellite”


AMS Annual Conference, Atlanta, GA, January 2014


Sarah Al Momar: “Relating Total Lightning and Storm Microphysics to In-Cloud Convective Turbulence”

Meghan Applegate: “How the Chemical Composition of the Pre-storm and Inflow Regions Compare to Each Other and to the Outflow Region of Deep Convection in the Upper Troposphere” (Student Conference)

Dereka Carroll: “Towards a better understanding of tropical cyclone flood vulnerability: Flash floods”

Logan Dawson: “Verifying WRF ensemble forecasts of updraft helicity”

Jonathan Martinez: “Determining the vertical distribution of volcanic plumes and SO2 column amounts from 2004–2013” (Student Conference)

Ana Ordonez: “Quantitative assessment of Antarctic climate variability and change”

Diamilet Perez-Betancourt: “Formation of Tropical Cyclone Spiral Rainbands in a 3-D Cloud-Resolving Model”

Daniel Pollak: "Characterization of Offshore Turbulence Intensity from Analysis of Ten Offshore Meteorological Masts in Northern Europe"

Rosimar Rios-Berrios: “Assessing the Impact of Initial Condition Errors on Intensity Forecasts of Hurricane Katia (2011)”

Oral Presentations

Matthew Burger: “Climatology of severe thunderstorm atmospheric conditions”

Gabriela De La Cruz Tello: “Pacific Northwest ecosystem responses to atmospheric changes in the 21st century”

Sandra Maina: “Vanishing Points(TM) in South Terrebonne Parish: an assessment of technology's future role on climate change adaptation”

Jake Zargoza: “Automated source parameter and low level wind estimation for atmospheric transport and dispersion applications”

39th Northeastern Storm Conference, Rutland, VT, March 2014


Sarah Al Momar: “Relating Total Lightning and Storm Microphysics to In-Cloud Convective Turbulence”