Excellence on display in the department of earth sciences

Zachary Staab
News Editor

Student achievements were on full display on Thursday, Nov 14., as five Millersville students spoke about their internship experiences at the Department of Earth Sciences Lecture in Caputo 210.

“The seminars expose students to research in Earth Sciences and enhance their education,” said Dr. Sepideh Yalda, professor of meteorology and lecture coordinator.

One of the presenters, Michael Charmick, a 2011 graduate pursuing his masters, best summed up the theme of the evening, saying,“These projects allow you to build your own resume.” Charmick reminded students to start applying for internships as a freshman, instead of waiting until senior year, like he did, to start looking for internships.

Many of the student speakers enthusiastically reminisced on their internships which included experiences in California with the Galactica project, Penn State’s Weather Center, the Foothills mountain range in Colorado, the National Weather Center in Oklahoma, and the University of Washington.

Lindsay Blank, a double major in computer science and meteorology, compared her program in Colorado to foreign exchange program.

“I was even set up with a host family who I lived with for several months,” said Blank.

The Atmosphere Layer Facility holds over 1 million dollars of equipment.
The Atmosphere Layer Facility holds over 1 million dollars of equipment.

Her job was to work with MPAS, a “special” program for complex data filtering and three fold data storage capabilities. She created an algorithm for the program that identified where hurricanes form and predicts the formation of hurricanes in the future. She wrote 1400 lines of code to complete the algorithm. Having applied many of the concepts she learned in class, Blank urged students to “pay attention and learn the algorithms you are taught in class because you will use them again in the future.”

Audience members appeared to be actively engaged during the presentations. Many in attendance took notes and asked questions. Amanda Sleinkofer, meteorology major, attended the lecture because it was a requirement for her earth sciences seminar class. “I learned of the potential for student internships and scholarships,” Sleinkofer said.

Felicia Guerello, senior majoring in meteorology, gave her presentation on Hollings, a two-year scholarship program sponsored by NOAA. The Hollings program took her to the National Weather Center in Oklahoma, where she predicted extreme weather with the Climate Forecast Team. Despite helping develop a severe weather prediction program, she was not prepared for experiencing severe weather first hand.

“I had my first experience storm chasing. I Skyped home about the experience and my dad was excited for me,” On the other hand, she said, “my mom was extremely worried about my safety.”

Some of the internships required the mobilization of MU’s Atmosphere Boundry Layer Facility. The facility is loaded with equipment, hooked to a truck, and transported to educational sites across the country. Funding for the trailer has been made possible through several external grants and research projects from organizations such as NASA and EPA. The instruments transported inside the trailer cost upward of 1 million dollars. The facility houses all of the instruments items necessary for conducting fieldwork for various internships.

The Earth Science Lectures are committed to inspiring student participation in opportunities made available to them by Millersville and other entities. The featured speaker next semester is Michael Thomson, director of the Solar Physics Laboratory, who will be speaking about his research and experience in the field.