Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan

Anthony Torres

Student

Anthony Torres
It's incredible how much interaction and personal attention we have from our professors while at a large, top-notch university like Michigan.

Many people enjoy watching loud thunderstorms on hot summer nights, but Undergraduate Student Anthony Torres isn’t just watching for fun. He’s studying thunderstorms in the Great Plains this summer as part of the Plains Elevated Convection at Night (PECAN) field campaign.

Torres is part of a group that collects surface-based observations of thunderstorm systems in an effort to improve forecasts of these sometimes damaging storms.

Torres became involved with the campaign after spending last summer as a protégé with SOARS (Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Science) at UCAR. The director of the program asked the protégés if any of them would be interested in participating in the field campaign in 2015, and Torres immediately expressed his interest.

Torres advises fellow students to seek opportunities in undergraduate research.

“As an undergrad, no one expects you to know everything at first. However, the experience you gain from undergraduate research is invaluable. It's the perfect opportunity to learn how to answer questions that have never been answered before, travel, network, and make professional connections that last a lifetime. If you're unsure about your career, undergraduate research is a great way to get your feet wet and learn more about your field.”

While having research opportunities is certainly a benefit of being an AOSS student, Torres says his favorite thing about AOSS is the “tight-knit community.”

“It's incredible how much interaction and personal attention we have from our professors while at a large, top-notch university like Michigan,” he says.

When asked what drew Torres to the AOSS program, he said, “I have had a lifelong love and fascination with the weather, and being surrounded by people with the same passion is an amazing experience.”

Published
Fri, 06/05/15

Diana Thatcher

Student

Diana Thatcher
Staying with AOSS was a huge benefit for me. Instead of taking the usual courses, I was able to focus on classes directly related to my research.

Doctoral Student Diana Thatcher is spending February through August 2015 at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) as a Visiting Graduate Student Fellow.

“The Graduate Student Visitor Program is a great chance to experience working outside of AOSS,” Thatcher says. “This 6-month visit allows me to meet a variety of scientists from different fields and collaborate effectively... There is such a wealth of knowledge here that I only have to walk down the hall to find expert advice on my research. NCAR is also the perfect place for anybody who enjoys spending time outdoors. Although I certainly miss Michigan, it is worth it for all of the hiking and skiing. I highly recommend that all PhD students spend some time working at another institution and collaborating with other researchers.”

Thatcher earned her undergraduate degree at AOSS, but she says coming here for her PhD was a surprise.

“I had already begun an undergraduate research project with my advisor, Dr. Christiane Jablonowski, and decided to continue this project as a PhD. Staying with AOSS was a huge benefit for me. Instead of taking the usual courses, I was able to focus on classes directly related to my research, such as numerical methods classes.”

When asked about her favorite experiences at AOSS, Thatcher said, “All of the social activities, from intramural sports to holiday celebrations, keep graduate school interesting. I also enjoy the chance to present my research without attending conferences. AOSS Flash Talks, MGU, EGS, and other U-M symposiums throughout the year are great opportunities to present my research and receive feedback before traveling to major conferences.”

Thatcher says that finding the right advisor is the most important factor to consider when choosing a PhD program.

“A good advisor will be able to suggest research projects that are interesting for their students and provide mentoring throughout the PhD program,” Thatcher says.

Daher says her favorite part about AOSS is the people.

“Other important considerations are the program’s selection of relevant classes and opportunities to use university resources, such as specialty lab equipment or high-performance computers,” Thatcher adds. “Choosing a PhD program is a very personal decision, so don’t be afraid to go against conventional wisdom. It’s ok to let outside factors, such as typical weather, urban vs. rural location, or the proximity to family members, play a role in choosing a PhD program. Generally, it is recommended that PhD students go to a different institution than their undergraduate institution, but staying at U-M was the best choice for me.”

Published
Fri, 04/03/15

Houraa Daher

Student

Houraa Daher
The department is like a big family and the faculty and staff here truly care about each student’s progress and well-being.

AOSS Undergraduate Student Houraa Daher traveled with Habitat for Humanity to New Orleans during spring break 2014.

“It was so amazing to be able to connect with the city of New Orleans and its residents,” Daher says. “Often they would pass by the work site just to stop and thank us. It's tough to make a difference in the lives of others in such a short time period, but they still let us know how grateful they were for us being there.”

Daher’s trip to New Orleans was a Stamps Scholars Alternative Spring Break. Stamp Scholars are students who have received the merit scholarship from Penny and Roe Stamps.

“Not only do we represent all the colleges at the University of Michigan, but we all have different dreams and aspirations for ourselves,” Daher says of the Stamps Scholars. “Without this scholarship, I would not be a student here at the University of Michigan, which has always been a life long dream for me.”

One of the biggest challenges from the trip to New Orleans was seeing the city continue to struggle with the damage from Hurricane Katrina.

“We heard many stories from residents who were still without their homes and who had lost family members. It was a very eye opening experience that really made us appreciate what we had back home.”

Daher decided to pursue an undergraduate degree with AOSS as a path towards a career in marine biology.

“I knew about the AOSS department because I had worked for Professor Andronova my freshman year and really enjoyed the work I did with climate models and climate change. Working for her encouraged me to get my undergraduate degree in AOSS.”

Daher says her favorite part about AOSS is the people.

“I've gotten to meet some of the greatest faculty members like Professor Moldwin and some of the most helpful and funniest classmates…I've also gotten to take classes in subject areas that I'm very passionate about, like the oceans.”

She wants other students who are considering coming to AOSS to know that she thinks it is one of the most rewarding programs at U-M.

“I've enjoyed every moment in it and I know my classmates have as well. The department is like a big family and the faculty and staff here truly care about each student’s progress and well-being.”

Published
Thu, 04/24/14

Meng Jin

Graduate Student

Meng Jin
It is a very unique experience to study in the CSEM and AOSS. The science and engineering are combined perfectly here.

With Sun, Moon, Earth, and Venus in his Chinese name, doctoral student Meng Jin says he was born to work in space science.

Jin is a student in the Center for Space Environment Modeling (CSEM) within AOSS. He researches coronal mass ejections (CMEs), also known as solar storms.

“With a billion tons of mass ejected at over a million kilometers per hour, a fast CME possesses sufficient energy to significantly affect the near-Earth space environment and therefore the daily life of human beings”, he explains. “We are building a state-of-art numerical model to simulate the CME from the Sun to the Earth, which will be a milestone for the space weather forecast capability.”

Jin’s research has been recognized; the College selected him as a 2014 recipient of The Richard and Eleanor Towner Prize for Distinguished Academic Achievement. This prize is intended to highlight the innovation and creativity demonstrated by the College’s students and reward outstanding research achievements.

Jin’s advice for other students is to prepare for interdisciplinary opportunities.

“Keep learning new stuff to broaden your horizons by actively participating in different classes every semester,” Jin says. “Almost all the research fields are interdisciplinary. The more you learned in school, the better chance to be successful in the future.”

Jin enjoys being part of the CSEM and AOSS community because of the wide variety of experts available.

“It is a very unique experience to study in the CSEM and AOSS. The science and engineering are combined perfectly here. We have physicists, computer scientists and engineers. Whenever you meet a problem, you can find some experts to consult. It not only makes your research more efficient, but also pushes you to learn some new stuff every day.”

As a Rackham Predoctoral Fellow, Jin is in the last stage of the PhD study.

“To get the PhD degree is only the first step, there are many challenging and existing problems to be solved in the future. I am ready for it.”

Published
Tue, 02/18/14

Nathan Hamet

Graduate Student

Nathan Hamet
I love getting people involved in MBuRST because I want to give the opportunities that were given to me.

Graduate student Nathan Hamet was searching for learning opportunities beyond sitting behind a computer when he discovered MBuRST (Michigan Balloon Recovery & Satellite Testbed), a student project team in the U-M Student Space Systems Fabrication Lab (S3FL).

MBuRST was a perfect fit for Hamet, who had been looking for a hands-on project that was weather-related. Today, Hamet is an MBuRST project manager.

One of the MBuRST projects is developing high-altitude disaster aid balloons, which can take Wi-Fi routers over disaster-affected areas to connect with smart-phones on the ground. The idea is that there will be an application on the phone that can ping the phone’s location via the Wi-Fi connection, allowing relief workers to find out where people are trapped.

“The disaster aid project is awesome because it will give me the opportunity to do the two things I love most, study weather and build near space instrumentation,” Hamet says.

Hamet’s advice to students interested in MBuRST is to not be afraid to learn something out of their comfort zone.

“I deal with electrical engineering a lot but this gives me the opportunity to create systems that deal with my direct field of study such as the disaster relief project and the study of extreme weather.”

Hamet adds that it is important to understand the difference between talent and skill.

“Talent is something that comes naturally and skill is something that is constantly being developed. Skilled engineers who are always working on making themselves better tend to be the most successful because of the passion and motivation that ensues.”

Hamet’s favorite part of being an AOSS student is interacting with the faculty and staff.

“We are a much smaller department than others within the College and this makes us more of a family. I have the easiest time getting in touch with any member of AOSS and the faculty really care about the students, which is something you often don't see in such a great research institution.”

Hamet’s final piece of advice to incoming students is to get involved in research projects.

“This develops skills that are not always covered in class. I love getting people involved in MBuRST because I want to give the opportunities that were given to me. It changed my life and I wouldn't be pursuing my master's if I didn't pursue a research position three years ago.”

Published
Thu, 01/09/14

Justin Tsu

Undergraduate Student

Justin Tsu
AOSS has turned my college experience into what I believe to be the true value of college: networking, interacting, and socializing with other people.

Undergraduate student Justin Tsu is the co-president of the U-M chapter of the American Meteorological Society (AMS). He says he enjoys leading AMS because he gets to share what he has learned from his experiences.

“I get to see students whose shoes I was in two years ago grow to become somebody better than I am presently.”

One of the most exciting things he has done with AMS was give a 5th and 7th grade robotics group a tour of the Space Research Building.

“There is no bigger thrill than being able to benefit the lives of young children by showing them what meteorology and related sciences are about.”

To Tsu, understanding meteorology and related sciences means learning about the effect a ground-induced current has on a power grid, or the effect ocean depth has on hurricane power. He says this study of natural phenomena goes beyond traditional engineering skills and into the sciences, which can be helpful for any career.

“Ultimately, from learning the scientific side of engineering, we also get to practice communicating our ideas effectively. Communication and professionalism are magnificent tools that many engineers lack.  They are arguably the most difficult skills to perfect, but a career at AOSS aids in developing them for the future.”

Tsu enjoys being an AOSS student not only because of the educational opportunities, but also because of the community.

“My favorite experience that I have had in AOSS is meeting the people that I have come to rely on for everything from academic support to comradeship…AOSS has turned my college experience into what I believe to be the true value of college: networking, interacting, and socializing with other people.”

Published
Wed, 12/18/13

Mary Morris

Doctoral student

Mary Morris
AOSS was appealing to me because of all the disciplines represented in the department.

Doctoral student Mary Morris participated in the NASA Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel (HS3) airborne field campaign. “HS3 is the most exciting field campaign that I have ever been a part of,” Morris says.

The campaign investigates hurricane processes by flying two Global Hawk drone airplanes instrumented with remote sensing equipment over and around hurricanes.

Morris participated in the project to learn more about hurricane formation and airborne campaigns. She says she enjoyed “the opportunity to meet members of the HIRAD (Hurricane Imaging Radiometer) team and listen in on the weather discussions that help the mission scientists plan flights.”

Morris earned her bachelor’s degree in meteorology from Penn State, where she says she got “hooked on remote sensing.” She came to the AOSS doctoral program to learn more about earth science remote sensing.

“AOSS was appealing to me because of all the disciplines represented in the department,” Morris says.

She encourages undergraduate students to try out different fields of research to find the best fit for them.

“If I had limited my internship search to weather related research, I might not have ended up where I am today! Getting some research experience will also help you figure out if graduate school is the right option for you.”

Published
Fri, 09/13/13

Samantha Tushaus

Doctoral student

Samantha Tushaus
NCAR is a great place for a grad student to learn about today's leading research.

Doctoral student Samantha Tushaus received the National Center For Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Graduate Student Visitor Award, which gave her the opportunity to spend four months working with NCAR scientists in Colorado.

“NCAR is a great place for a grad student to learn about today's leading research,” Tushaus says.

Working with NCAR has not only helped Tushaus with research, it has also provided connections in the community. Tushaus has joined the Earth Science Women’s Network and Global Learning and Observation to Benefit the Environment program.

“I'm very lucky to be part of those programs and the earth science community.”


Tushaus came to AOSS to pursue a PhD in atmospheric science after receiving her Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Iowa State University. Her advice to potential PhD students: ask the AOSS professors about your research interests before you apply. This will help you find out if you and a professor have interests that work well together.

“It helps you write application essays and ensures that you'll be happy at the graduate school of your choice.”

Published
Thu, 08/01/13

Guangxing Lin

Doctoral Student

Guangxing Lin
Once you set up a goal, try to break it down to several manageable tasks or many little milestones to keep you motivated.

Graduate student Guangxing Lin earned the 2013 Towner Prize for Distinguished Academic Achievement from the College. “Once you set up a goal, try to break it down to several manageable tasks or many little milestones to keep you motivated,” Lin advises those working towards achievement.

Lin says he enjoys being an AOSS student because of the excellent atmospheric program and thriving community. “One of my favorite experiences in AOSS was having a barbecue in Gallup Park and later playing Frisbee with fellow students…students are closely connected with each other in AOSS.”

Lin says after he earns his PhD he plans to find a post doctorate position to “refine and expand the skills I have learned in AOSS.”

Published
Fri, 04/05/13

Colin Zarzycki

Doctoral Student

Colin Zarzycki
There are still significant opportunities to help save lives and property by better understanding these devastating storms.

Doctoral student Colin Zarzycki won the Best Oral Presentation Award at this year’s American Meteorological Society Weather Analysis and Forecasting Symposium. His presentation was titled: “Assessing the Ability of Variable-Resolution Global Models to Forecast Tropical Cyclones.”

Zarzycki says researching tropical cyclones is important because of the impact storms have on society. “These last few years have shown that there are still significant opportunities to help save lives and property by better understanding these devastating storms from both short-term forecasting and long-term climate change perspectives.”

Zarzycki says his next step in the research is to conduct a rigorous quantitative analysis to analyze the effect of using variable-resolution global models, in particular CAM-SE, on short-term hurricane forecasting. “This is high on our priority list and will hopefully prove the fidelity of these models as highly useful tools as the community moves towards the next generation of atmospheric models.”

As for the award, Zarzycki says, “There were numerous exciting presentations from students who have different ideas which will all help move weather analysis and forecasting forward, so I'm honored to be singled out.”

Published
Mon, 03/25/13

Alex Bryan

Doctoral Student

Alex Bryan
UMBS is a truly unique environment for graduate students to work and gain field experience.

Doctoral student Alex Bryan is a leader for GUStO, the Graduate and Undergraduate Student Organization for AOSS. “Joining GUStO allowed me to get the most of out of my experience as a student as well as give back to the department,” Bryan says.

Joining the leadership team gives students the opportunity to shape their own academic experience and the experience of fellow students. “Students gain invaluable leadership experience by coordinating faculty-lead career development workshops, department tours, recruitment events, and social events.”

Bryan says he was motivated to attend graduate school at AOSS because of the abundant research opportunities in atmospheric science. “My advisor's research, in particular, motivated me to join the AOSS department. Upon my visit, the friendly and supportive faculty, staff, and students made me feel very welcome.”

His favorite experience at AOSS has been participating in three summer-long visits to the University of Michigan Biological Station (UMBS) in Pellston, MI. “UMBS is a truly unique environment for graduate students to work and gain field experience. Students sleep in tin cabins, eat healthy and delicious home-cooked food, and work outdoors in the beautiful forests of northern Michigan.”

Published
Wed, 02/20/13

Caroline Kinstle

MEng Student

Caroline Kinstle
Reaching out to younger girls and introducing them to women in science makes a big impact.

Caroline Kinstle is an MEng Applied Climate student. In her free time, she stays involved with her undergraduate engineering sorority, doing philanthropic work such as science projects with Girl Scouts. “Reaching out to younger girls and introducing them to women in science makes a big impact,” she says.

Kinstle also helped out with science projects for kids at the American Meteorological Society (AMS) WeatherFest, a series of interactive science exhibits designed to instill a love of math and science in children. WeatherFest was part of the AMS annual meeting in early January.

Kinstle says her favorite part of the meeting was the student conference. “This year they did a good job finding speakers that were interesting to everybody. As a graduate student, I found the speakers helpful.”

The MEng in Applied Climate program is great because it gives students the skills they need to see how the latest in-demand technology is affecting the earth. “It’s important to know how technologies affect earth processes so we can understand how to adapt or mitigate,” Kinstle says.

Published
Thu, 01/24/13

Dori Mermelstein

Undergraduate Student

Dori Mermelstein
Take advantage of all the resources around you and get involved.

Dori Mermelstein excels in activities inside and outside of the classroom. Her hard work earned her a Leaders and Honors Distinguished Achievement Award from the College this year.

She encourages others to make time for extracurricular activities because they can be just as important as academics. Mermelstein has served as a co-president for the American Meteorological Society Student Chapter and acted as a student leader for incoming transfer students. She also earned an International Engineering minor while spending a semester in Spain.

“Take advantage of all the resources around you and get involved,” Mermelstein says. “It is a great way to meet new people who have similar interests as you, help others that might need it and build your communication and leadership skills.”

Research experience is also a key part of education and Mermelstein is grateful to the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) for providing her with the opportunity to study the effects of atmospheric aerosols on surface energy balance.

One of her favorite experiences in class was her final project for the Meteorological Analysis Laboratory course. She was able to study a severe thunderstorm from May 18, 2000 - the storm that sparked her interest in studying meteorology years ago.

“It felt so rewarding being able to understand why the storm formed, how it was able to intensify and produce the damage it did on my hometown and what caused it to weaken as well.”

Next year Mermelstein will earn her Master’s degree in Atmospheric Science, continuing her education in the Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences department.

Published
Tue, 01/22/13

Gina DiBraccio

PhD Candidate, U-M

B.S. in Physics and Astronomy, University of Pittsburgh

B.S. in Business Administration, University of Pittsburgh

Gina DiBraccio
It's an honor to be a part of it.

Gina DiBraccio, a fourth year PhD candidate, is one of the youngest members of the MESSENGER Science team. “It’s an honor to be a part of it,” she says.

On the team, DiBraccio uses both magnetometer and plasma data in an attempt to understand the dynamics of Mercury's magnetosphere, and how this relates back to Earth.

Her work has not gone unnoticed. Her paper, “MESSENGER Observations of magnetopause structure at Mercury” earned an American Geophysical Union Outstanding Student Paper Award.

At the annual AGU Meeting in December 2012, DiBraccio was recognized for her award. One of her favorite experiences at the conference was “meeting some of the well-known people in the field and having the opportunity to discuss research with them.”

When asked why she came to AOSS for graduate school, DiBraccio says it was an obvious choice. “It’s one of the best programs.”

Aside from her research, Gina keeps her life balanced by running, playing volleyball, and coaching a middle school volleyball team.

Published
Mon, 01/07/13

Steve Boland

MEng, Applied Climate

Steve Boland
It’s exciting. I’m hoping to be successful and help the program be a success - something other students want to get into.

Congratulations to Steve Boland, the first graduate of the Applied Climate Master of Engineering program.

Boland says one of his favorite experiences in the program was “going to the Glenn Research Center. It was exciting. Growing up, I always associated engineering with NASA.”

Boland says he was drawn to the program because “I’ve always had an interest in environmental science and climate change.”

Boland grew up outside of New York City and hopes to return to the East Coast.

Published
Fri, 12/21/12

Zahid Hasan

Graduate Student

Space Engineering MENg Program

Advisor: Darren McKague

BSE Aerospace (U-M)

Zahid Hasan
I have an enormous respect for the intelligence and dedication from everyone at the University of Michigan. I don’t think people realize how much I value what I learn and absorb from my daily interactions with them.

Zahid Hasan's passion and zeal for robotics and technology, along with his entrepreneurial spirit, have served him well over the years, from earning him the distinction of being the first university student to be published in Aviation Week magazine’s editorial page, to being named having the Most Social Impact Award - Student Showcase 2011. Other honors and awards include the Dare to Dream grant 2010,  Startup-onomics Summit 2011, and the TechArb Tenancy 2010.

Zahid credits inspiring and amazing mentors for helping him parlay his passions and focus his research interests in the area of Cooperative Unmanned Systems. Zahid chose to pursue a MEng in Space System Engineering because of the practical focus on teamwork and solving impact-driven problems through technical excellence. In addition, Zahid's interest in figuring out how to harness technical ability into reality to positively affect lives has led to the creation of his own company.

After graduation, Zahid's concentration will be on his company Medicron, whose mission is enabling developing nations to track and manage real-time health information for improved health of its citizens. During his "down-time," Zahid enjoys martial arts, hacking, programming, and cooking.

Published
Tue, 10/04/11

Robert Alexander

Ph.D. pre-candidate (Design Science)

B.A. Performing Arts Technology (U-M 2007)

M.A. Media Arts (U-M 2009)

NASA JPFP Fellow

Composer / Intermedia Artist

Robert Alexander
I'm always on the lookout for new data sets to audify! I think we can learn a lot if we open our ears to the sounds of science. Also, people should know that the Design Science PhD program at the University of Michigan is one of the few programs in the world through which this research would be possible.

Robert Alexander's research lies at the intersection of technology and creativity. As a Design Science Ph.D pre-candidate, he's working to construct software interfaces for exploring scientific data in new ways. The core of his research lies in data sonfication with the Solar Heliospheric Research Group. Sonification is a process through which any kind of non-auditory data is translated as sound. They're transforming space data into the sonic realm such that they can gain a new perspective, and begin to ask new questions. Robert related that “as a media artist and electroacoustic composer, I've pushed for over a decade to create new tools for self expression. This has generated a keen awareness of the extent to which the creative process can be colored by technological tools. I was contacted by the Solar Heliospheric Research group (SHRG) due to my expertise in interface design and knowledge of algorithmic music composition methods. The SHRG is very innovative and forward thinking. This group is extremely inspiring to work with.”

Robert's advisors include Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen (Professor, Space Science, Associate Dean for Entrepreneurship); Dr. Jason Gilbert (Assistant Research Scientist); and Dr. Mary Simoni (Associate Dean for Research and Community Engagement, Professor of Performing Arts Technology, School of Music Theatre and Dance).

Honors and achievement awards include the 2011 NASA-Harriett G. Jenkins Pre-doctoral Fellowship Project (JPFP) Award; International Community for Auditory Display: Outstanding Achievement Award; Yahoo! Boost Award; University of Michigan Dean's Named Fellowship 2010-2011; and securing a Rackham Summer Research Grant.

In his “spare” time, Robert enjoys writing music, playing chess, and reading. He also plays piano, guitar, cello, and drums, and even sings. He's even found time to teach computer music at the Interlochen Center for the Arts for the past two summers! Visit Robert's website at www.robertalexandermusic.com to learn more.

After graduation, Robert is interested in advancing the field of auditory data analysis, and envisions this work will ultimately lead to a full-time position with NASA. He also hopes to build a larger bridge between the arts and sciences, and to continue rigorously exploring his own creative capabilities.

Published
Mon, 07/25/11

Dara Fisher

Undergraduate Space Weather Student (Minoring in Int'l Engineering)

U-M Marshall Scholarship Nominee

Dara Fisher

As the daughter of a Michigan alumnus (class of ’73), Dara knew about Michigan, but it was the three days spent on campus as a part of the Shipman Scholar recruitment program that sold Dara on attending U-M. “I knew Michigan was the place for me.”

Published
Sat, 10/09/10

Julie Feldt

Graduate Student

Advisor: Professor Mark Moldwin

BS, Astronomy and Physics, University of Kansas

Julie Feldt
“Being a part of the REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics made me completely change my graduate school plans.”

After her 2008 REU experience, Julie applied to and was accepted into the AOSS PhD program in the Fall of 2009. She is a graduate student working with Professor Mark Moldwin, studying the ionosphere, plasmasphere and magnetosphere. Julie received a BS in astronomy and one in physics from the University of Kansas, where, interestingly, she worked for Professor Thomas Cravens, who was formerly at U-M and has been a longtime friend of AOSS and SPRL.

Asked what people would least suspect of her, she said, “Most people are pretty shocked that I have a tattoo, it’s the symbol for Pluto. In the third grade I wrote a report on Pluto, and I've hooked ever since!”

Published
Wed, 09/15/10

Catherine Walker

Planetary Physics PhD Program

Space Engineering MEng Program

Advisor: Professor Mike Liemohn

Catherine Walker
“The main thing that drew me here was the sheer amount of research that comes out of Michigan, and the opportunity to do such neat inter-disciplinary projects was a big deal ”

Catherine joined AOSS in the Fall ’08 after double-majoring in astrophysics and geological sciences at Mount Holyoke College (one of the Seven Sisters). This past summer, Catherine was selected as a NASA Student Ambassador — this follows six other stints at NASA either as an intern or a student in “NASA Boot Camp”. How did she do it? “I just kept applying and making contacts.” The perseverance expected of someone whose goal is to be an astronaut, is a certified diamond buyer by the Gemological Institute of America and watches NASCAR every Sunday.

Now that Catherine is in her second year, she says that AOSS, with its “diversity of interests and inherent possibilities for research experiences,” gives her the freedom to try new things. “AOSS is definitely one of the more diverse groups of ‘space’ science departments that I found — in one hallway, you can talk to an atmospheric chemist, the next, a physicist, and in the next, hear all about the Sun or one of the planets.

Catherine has recently taken up baking and decorating cakes and she has a twin who is pursuing an MA at the Cooperstown Graduate Program in New York (a premier program for History/Museum Studies).

Published
Wed, 09/15/10

Jordan Feight

ESSE Meteorology Concentration Undergraduate, Meteorologist, U-M Solar Car Team, 2010 American Solar Challenge winner

Jordan Feight
“Weather has always peaked my interest, and being part of the engineering school at U‑M has opened many doors for me. The opportunities that I have here is astounding”

AOSS sophomore Jordan Feight had no idea what to expect when he came to U-M in the fall of 2009. He just knew that meteorology was what he wanted to study. That decision led him to connecting with the Solar Car Team and to spending a week on the road from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma to Naperville, Illinois, doing daily forecasts and having critical input into the team’s winning strategy.

“The coolest thing of being on the team was to watch the team evolve. Business students became mechanical engineers, industrial operation majors learned the electrical systems, and math majors broadened their knowledge of weather.”

Jordan who used “fantastic equipment such as a WeatherHawk weather station, weather balloons, and pyranometers” says plans are underway for new weather tools, models and equipment for the next World Solar Challenge in 2011.

Jordan will be following AOSS alumni Matt Trantham who was the meteorologist on the 2005 U-M Solar Car Team and Brad Charboneau who was meteorologist on the 2007 U‑M team. All three teams won the American Solar Challenge — a great AOSS tradition has begun!

Published
Wed, 09/15/10