Welcome to the Northern Illinois University Meteorology Blog! Our plan is to keep our current and potential students, as well as alumni, up-to-date on the NIU Meteorology Program through this fun and exciting medium. The blog will highlight the successes of our program by illustrating the work of our students, staff, and faculty. For more information on our program -- including curriculum details, history, and faculty bios -- please visit this post.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

NIU Meteorology Remembers Dr. ReVelle

Dr. Douglas O. ReVelle, who taught dynamic meteorology, atmospheric sciences and climate dynamics at NIU from 1984 to 1993, died Sunday, May 2, 2010 in Albuquerque, N.M.  He was 64.  ReVelle moved to New Mexico after leaving NIU and worked for 16 years with the Los Alamos National Laboratory.  He studied in pioneering theoretical work the interaction of meteors and planetary atmospheres.  He addressed, in particular, aerodynamics, ablation, meteor acoustics and infrasonic meteor observations.

An asteroid was named in his honor, 13358 Revelle, with the dedication “Douglas O. ReVelle, for his pioneering work in meteor physics and astronomy based on theoretical aerodynamics, in meteor acoustics and in the interpretation of infrasonic meteor observations. He will be remembered as a dedicated scientist and caring mentor for students.

On August 15, 2012, family, friends and former students of Dr. ReVelle hosted a Memorial Balloon Launch at the Russell Woods Forest Preserve, Genoa, IL. After the event, they toured the Department of Geography in memory of Dr. ReVelle. Below is the payload card that was carried by the balloon. Pictures from the event are hosted here.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Student Participates in "Research Experiences for Undergraduates"

For ten weeks between May and July 2011, NIU senior meteorology student Danny Brouillette participated in the National Weather Center (NWC) Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. Located on the University of Oklahoma (OU) main campus in Norman, Oklahoma, the NWC is a research and operations facility that houses the OU School of Meteorology and its research groups and enterprises, the Oklahoma Climatological Survey, and several National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) agencies, including the Storm Prediction Center (SPC), Norman National Weather Service Forecast Office (OUN NWSFO), Warning Decision Training Branch (WDTB), Radar Operations Center (ROC), and National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL). The REU program solicits approximately ten students from universities across the United States in a very competitive selection process in which approximately ten percent of applicants are selected in a given year. It pairs student participants with one-on-one research mentors affiliated with a program(s) at the NWC in order to give them a taste of the research working environment. As such, the experience gives participants an indication of whether graduate study in the atmospheric sciences is suited for them.

The REU is centered around participants completing individual research projects under the direction of their mentors. Mr. Brouillette worked under mentor Dr. Yang Hong, an OU associate professor affiliated with the Hydrometeorology and Remote Sensing (HyDROS) research group, and one of his graduate students, Lu Liu, on a regional climate change project entitled “Quantifying Changes in Extreme Precipitation at Houston and Oklahoma City by 2041-2065 Using the Regional Climate Model (CRCM).” The results of this project helped to confirm that the most intense rainstorms may become more intense in the future even while a net decrease in precipitation is possible. It also helped to begin to quantify the magnitudes of these temporal changes. Mr. Brouillette is lead author of proceedings related to this project in the American Meteorological Society’s 24th Conference on Climate Change and Variability, which was held in New Orleans between 22 and 26 January 2012. He will present a poster there.

Danny delivers his final presentation at the NWC.

Besides the central research project, the REU features a variety of formal and informal activities that add value to the overall experience. Formal activities offered in the 2011 REU included instruction in research ethics, training in basic research applications of MATLAB and statistics, a session on technical writing and presentation, talks from a variety of guest lecturers at the top of their respective fields, and a four-day field trip to Boulder, Colorado, to visit the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and NOAA research facilities. Informal activities center around forging lasting social and professional connections with peers in the REU and other similar research programs at the NWC. Norman is situated in central Oklahoma, the heart of the traditional Tornado Alley, and the opportunity for storm chasing is often irresistible. Indeed, with a chase group led by Jim LaDue, Mr. Brouillette saw his first (and only—so far) two tornadoes, an EF-5 near El Reno and the dissipation of an EF-4 just north of Purcell, on 24 May. The region has more than just storms and extreme heat, however, and the NWC research interns enjoyed some of their free time by hiking in the Wichita Mountains in southwest Oklahoma and spending the Fourth-of-July weekend in Dallas.

Having had eight participants since 1999, the NIU Meteorology Program has had considerable success in being a source of participants to the NWC REU. In 2008, Becky Belobraydich, currently working on an M.S. in meteorology at OU, participated and did a project under OU researcher Dr. Matthew Biddle that examined how university students perceive, understand, and use severe-weather watches issued by the SPC. The 2007 REU had Victor Gensini, currently working on a Ph.D. in geography at the University of Georgia, participating under National Severe Storm Laboratory researcher Dr. Harold Brooks on a project that investigated thunderstorm parameters over a 42-year period. The other NIU participants were Heather Flachs (2004), Becca Mazur (2003), Kadi Carroll (2002), Jesse Sparks (2000), and Peggy Concannon (1999). Current NIU students who are interested in learning more about this and other REU programs and research and internship opportunities should contact Dr. Walker Ashley or Dr. Dave Changnon.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Congratulations to NIU junior Mr. Daniel Brouillette for winning the 2010-11 National Weather Association's Arthur C. Pike Meteorology Scholarship. The scholarship is named after Mr. Pike, who was a charter member of the National Weather Association, a research meteorologist for the National Hurricane Center, and an educator. The scholarship is awarded based on academic achievement/merit. Again, congratulations Daniel!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

NWS Student Career Experience Program

For any meteorology student who is interested in operational meteorology, the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) through the National Weather Service (NWS) is an experience that should be considered. SCEP is a great opportunity for a student to work in a Weather Forecast Office (WFO) alongside operational NWS meteorologists, and learn the ins and outs of the weather service, and obtain permanent employment. As a SCEP, you are a temporary federal employee, working shifts and learning duties that are required of the weather service employees. Within each WFO, there are opportunities to shadow the forecasters, assess severe weather events, participate in community outreach, work alongside forecasters on separate projects, and also work on projects of your own, as well as work shifts.

After a competitive application process, if selected for a SCEP position, the student is assigned to a WFO that is close to the specific university of attendance. Scheduling is done per the specific office and the student’s schedule. Typically, a student will work full time at the office during semester breaks and either part time, or leave without pay, during the semester. This schedule will continue until the student graduates from his or her university, resigns from the program, or is let go. Before graduation, the student is required to work 640 hours at his or her WFO to be eligible for conversion.

Upon graduation, as long as the student is eligible, there is a greatly increased likelihood that the student will be converted to a permanent employee with the NWS. Although employment is not guaranteed, the great majority of SCEP students who graduate from their universities successfully do move on to an entry level position. The conversion is not competitive, unlike the SCEP application process, and is aided by the NWS’s SCEP coordinator and specific WFO. A significant portion of the NWS’s entry level positions are actually filled by SCEP graduates.
Since the application process is very competitive, many students will take positions as student volunteer at a WFO before applying in order to increase the chances of SCEP selection. This position is unpaid, but provides valuable experience and insight into the NWS and operational meteorology, and is highly recommended.

The application for SCEP is typically due in February, and questions about the process can be forwarded to: nws.scep-reply@noaa.gov. Additional details regarding NOAA opportunities, including the SCEP, may be found at the Chicago-Romeoville NWS WFO website. Finally, NIU students may want to discuss the SCEP experience with Ms. Rose Sengenberger, a current student who was awarded a SCEP during 2010-11. Congrats Rose!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Scholarship Season

The Meteorology Program at NIU would like to bring to your attention several amazing scholarship opportunities. Please consider applying for these prestigious scholarships if you meet the criteria.

Current NIU Meteorology students should routinely check the "Meteorology Today" board in the Davis 2nd Floor hallway for additional opportunities (e.g., scholarships, internships, jobs) and updates.

If you have any questions regarding the application process after you have read the necessary application materials, feel free to ask Drs. Ashley, Bentley, Changnon, or Song. We look forward to helping you acquire one (or more!) of these scholarships.