Graduate Student | Department of Marine, Earth, Atmospheric Science | North Carolina State University
2022 – 2023 Global Change Fellow
Statement of purpose:
From a young age, I have maintained a strong desire to learn and seek new knowledge, and my meteorological aspirations have always been rooted to that. Growing up in North Texas, hailstorms, squall lines, and flooding rains were prominent. As a child, I would sit in front of the television for hours and watch local meteorologists cover storms tracking into my community. Spring nights were synonymous with pounding hail on our rooftop, eerie green skies, and howling winds, while the consequent mornings revealed debris strewn across neighborhood streets and yards. I never really comprehended how the atmosphere operated, but every time my eyes met menacing mammatus or calm cumulus, I strived to understand. Eventually, I realized that we cannot control the weather or Mother Nature’s raucous and unpredictable mind, but we can innovate and educate. As my collegiate experience commenced, I began to investigate meteorology with hopes to merge my childlike fascination with the weather and my determination to serve humanity.
Through my undergraduate degree at the University of Oklahoma, these phenomena continued to capture my curiosity. I conducted a research project with OU and NASA scientists that analyzed satellite imagery of severe storms, and I learned the importance of meticulous data analysis. Last summer, as part of my Hollings internship with the National Weather Service in Indianapolis, I created a 70-year severe weather climatology for central Indiana. As I sifted through historical accounts of severe hail, wind, and tornadoes in this region, I learned the significance of working with complex datasets in order to diagnose climatological patterns in various locations. As I discovered through the course of my internship, modern storm reports have undoubtedly improved lead time associated with severe storms. However, I soon learned that future work to improve the societal equity of these warnings and climatological information is needed. During my last year of undergraduate studies at OU, I conducted a Capstone project on tropical cyclone tornadoes and extratropical transition. Through a case study analysis of Hurricanes Ivan, Rita, and Katrina, I learned about the various societal impacts of these storms on different communities, especially the underserved. This inspired me to pursue a PhD with Dr. Kathie Dello at NC State. I anticipate working alongside the North Carolina State Climate Office to minimize climate change effects amplified by social inequalities. My PhD research will focus on the adverse effects of heat, flooding, and other hazards on different communities in the Carolinas. As the reality of climate change becomes increasingly apparent, it is vital to protect all communities and provide them with access to lifesaving climate information. I am excited to begin working with the Global Change Fellows in order to inspire lasting change on our planet!
Description of research:
For my PhD research, I am interested in studying how various communities and demographics in the Carolinas access and react to climate-centered information, especially heat-related hazards. I plan to begin working with communities such as the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and helping them understand their vulnerability to climate change. I am interested in my research project because mitigating the effects of climate change is not possible unless all communities are accounted for. I am confident that the innovative research and unique collaborations within NC State will prepare me for a sustainable career of educating all citizens of their role in combating climate change.
Kathie Dello (Department of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences, NCSU)