Atmospheric Science Career Profiles

Learn more about what atmospheric science professionals do for their jobs.

Aaron Pratt - Ph.D. candidate

"As far back as I can remember, I've always been curious about storms," says Aaron Pratt. When he was a small boy, his mother compared him to Sesame Street's Count von Count because they both got so excited whenever there was thunder and lightning.

Aimee Norton - Astronomer

As a teenager in the 1980s, Aimee Norton was an aspiring astronaut. At that time, the conventional path to outer space usually meant enrolling in the Air Force Academy, something that didn't appeal to her. She would eventually find herself drawn to the field of astronomy instead.

Amik St-Cyr - Mathematician

Amik spends much of his time studying numerical methods for solving partial differential equations, also known as PDEs.

Andrea Sealy - Meteorologist

Andrea Sealy, Ph.D., is a scientist at the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology. She spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow in NCAR's Advanced Study Program.

Andrew Gettelman - Atmospheric Chemist

Andrew Gettelman has a broad perspective on what he does as a scientist. "My job is to try to figure out how the world works," he says. "There's a lot of fun in that, as well as infinite job security, since we'll never completely figure it out."

Britton Stephens - Scientist

Britt focuses on building new instruments and adapting existing ones that he and other scientists can use to study the global carbon cycle.

Christopher Castro - Assistant Professor

Christopher Castro is proof of the value of a summer internship.

Clara Deser - NCAR Senior Scientist; Head, Climate Analysis Section

As a child, Clara enjoyed maps, math, and making observations about the natural world around her, so pursuing a career in science naturally followed.

Claudia Tebaldi - Statistician

Claudia Tebaldi jokes that if different climate models were all in agreement with each other, she wouldn't have a job. A statistician by training, Claudia analyzes results from climate models to assess the degree of uncertainty in their predictions.

Cory Morse - Software Engineer

Working at NCAR for nearly two decades has taught Cory Morse that she has the soul of an engineer.

David Gochis - Hydrometeorologist

For Dave Gochis, a day on the job as an NCAR scientist might mean driving around the rural backroads of northern Mexico, setting up dozens of gauges the size of cookie jars that record rainfall to the nearest millimeter.

Dione Lee Rossiter - Ph.D. student

Ph.D. student Dee Rossiter is interested in the invisible physical changes, or microphysics, taking place in the clouds.

Doug Nychka - Statistician

Doug has been director of NCAR's Institute for Mathematics Applied to the Geosciences (IMAGe) since 2004. A statistician by training, he leads IMAGe in its mission to bring mathematical models and tools to bear on fundamental problems in the geosciences.

Fei Chen - Senior Scientist

If it weren't for a lackluster chemistry score on his college entrance exams, Fei Chen might have followed his father's wishes and become a doctor.

Frank Flocke - Atmospheric Chemist

Frank Flocke, FRAPPÉ Principal Investigator, retraces his path to a career in atmospheric chemistry.

Gary New - NWSC Operations Manager; Engineer

As the Operations Manager at the NCAR Wyoming Computing Center in Cheyenne, Wyoming since before the facility's opening in 2012, Gary New sees his role as being responsive to his talented team and their various work-related needs, not the other way around. Based upon his team's track record, his approach seems to be working.

Geoffrey Tyndall - Atmospheric Chemist

Geoff Tyndall runs a chemical kinetics laboratory full of high-tech instrumentation, including reaction chambers, lasers, spectrometers, and other air sampling devices.

Hector Socas-Navarro - Astrophysicist

When Hector Socas-Navarro was 10 years old, he watched Cosmos, Carl Sagan's famous television series about the universe and our place in it. It was then that he decided to become a scientist.

Henry Boynton - Pilot

Henry Boynton can tell you what the atmosphere looks like at 51,000 feet above Earth's surface, a good 15,000 feet higher than most commercial airplanes venture. "The biggest thing you notice is that the sky is a lot bluer," he observes.

James Done - Meteorologist

James Done examines weather forecasts generated by computer models to better understand storms and other kinds of severe weather as well as long-term climate.

Jielun Sun - Observational Meteorologist

Jielun Sun likens data analysis to a form of meditation. "It's all about discovery," she explains. "Every time I look at data, I see something and feel like I learn things."

Jim Smith - Atmospheric Chemist

"It's fun to make something happen that at first glance seems impossible," says Jim Smith.

Joan Kleypas - Ocean Scientist

"Jacques Cousteau was my idol while growing up," confesses Joanie Kleypas. The undersea world revealed in his groundbreaking television programs inspired Joanie to become an ocean scientist.

José Meitín - Field Project Coordinator and Meteorologist

As a field project coordinator, it's not enough for José Meitín to understand complex scientific concepts and know how to use cutting-edge instruments. He also needs a flair for foreign diplomacy, proficiency in several languages, and a capacity for great patience when dealing with customs officials.

Kevin Trenberth - Distinguished Senior Scientist

One might surmise that climatologist Kevin Trenberth dreamed of a career in the atmospheric sciences early on, but the truth might surprise you.

Larry Cornman - Physicist

Larry Cornman's career path has been unpredictable, somewhat like the turbulence he loves to study. Even though he enjoyed math and science as a schoolchild, his diverse interests pulled him in unexpected directions, such as living in a Zen Buddhist monastery after graduating high school.

Laura Pan - Senior Scientist

Laura Pan describes herself as an "accidental" scientist. She never intentionally set out to pursue a science career. Rather, she began with an interest in theoretical physics and found herself drawn along as adventures unfolded, first in remote sensing and more recently in high-altitude research flights.

Lou Verstraete - Senior Technician

Some scientists aspire to work on experiments in exotic locations. Lou Verstraete didn't have a choice.

Mari Tye - Project Scientist

From an early age, Mari enjoyed making things work, taking them apart and trying to put them back together, but she was most fascinated by the interaction between nature and humans – particularly where water was concerned. Today she works at NCAR's Engineering for Climate Extremes Partnership (ECEP) at the intersection of her interests and talents.

Marika Holland - Senior Scientist

Marika Holland recalls that when she entered graduate school at the University of Colorado, she had "the fuzzy idea of doing something with climate." She left graduate school with a sharp focus on the role of sea ice in the climate system.

Matthew Kelsch - Hydrometeorologist

It's no fluke that Matt Kelsch is a meteorologist. He was so interested in weather as a child that his fourth grade teacher actually wrote him special tests on the subject.

Maura Hagan - Physicist

As a graduate student in physics, Maura Hagan found herself frustrated and on the verge of dropping out. "I wanted to quit but the chair of the physics department would not allow me to," she recalls. "He was a profound mentor. He said, 'You may take a leave of absence, but you come back to me in one year.'"

Patricia Romero Lankao - Sociologist

As a sociologist, Romero Lankao seeks to understand the human dimensions of environmental issues.

Talea Mayo - Ph.D. candidate

Talea Mayo is a Ph.D. candidate at the Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin and has been working on increasing the accuracy of computer models by incorporating data into hurricane forecasts.

Tim Brown - Astronomer

Tim Brown has been interested in stars ever since he was a child reading about the launch of Sputnik and other satellites in the 1950s.

Tim Scheitlin - Software Engineer

Tim Scheitlin grew up in southeast Iowa, where gigantic thunderstorms unfold across the open landscape. "I would sit in front of the picture window facing west, watching these storms roll through. My mom and dad were always telling me to get away from that window," he recalls.

Ying-Hwa "Bill" Kuo - Meteorologist

One morning, six-year-old Ying-Hwa Kuo woke on his family's rice farm in Tai Chung, in west-central Taiwan, to a world transformed. A typhoon—the name for hurricanes in the Northwest Pacific—had brought intense rain and flooding.