Associate Professor, Geographic and Atmospheric Sciences
What year did you start working at NIU?
Where is your hometown? and where do you live now?
McNabb, IL (hometown), and Sugar Grove, IL (now).
Where did you attend college and what degree(s) have you earned?
B.S. meteorology 2008 (NIU), M.S. geography 2010 (NIU), Ph.D. geography 2014 (University of Georgia).
In which department(s) do you teach?
Department of Geographic and Atmospheric Sciences
Were you a first-generation college student?
What do you like about working at NIU?
Passing on my passion for weather and climate to the next generation of meteorologists and climatologists. Students are at the center of what we do in our department. The NIU meteorology program has a great history and an admirable diversity of graduates from all walks of life. We're all in it for one common goal, and that's to provide better information, forecasts and decision-making for the next extreme weather event.
What advice would you give to students currently attending NIU?
Work hard, get involved in student clubs and engage as much as possible with your professors. We are here to serve you and focus on your education. Your educational experience is what you make of it.
Tell us about a research or engaged learning project you have led.
Perhaps not one that I have led, but one that I participated in. When I was an undergraduate, I participated in what is now the equivalent of the Research Rookies program. I was able to publish research before obtaining my B.S. degree, which set me up for success in graduate school. That publication has nearly 100 citations now, after being published for less than 10 years.
What do you hope students take away from your class?
My No. 1 goal is to make students lifelong learners. I try to build a strong foundation for my students through their enrollment in some of the "core" meteorology courses. If I have succeeded, students will want to add to the foundation on their own time, ultimately building a flourishing and more efficient structure of knowledge. There is always room to add accents to the structure of knowledge through lifelong learning, reading and other forms of professional development. I hope that they become stewards of their own curiosity.
What is your favorite memory of NIU?
As a meteorologist, some of my greatest memories as a student were long walks across campus in temperatures below zero. The experience is the epitome of the Huskie spirit. Quite honestly, most folks just don't get it!
Who has influenced your professional path?
Educators have been the most influential on my career path. Drs. Walker Ashley (NIU) and David Changnon (NIU, retired) had a significant influence on my professional development and career path choice.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you currently doing it? If not, what changed your path?
I'd say that a 10-year-old me is doing something very similar to what I could have envisioned at the time.
Are you a member of or hold a position within a professional organization? If so, what organization? What is the purpose of that organization and how does being part of this organization benefit you in your role at NIU?
I am a lifetime member of the National Weather Association and serve as associate editor for the American Meteorological Society's Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology and the Weather and Forecasting journal. Serving in these organizations helps me keep a broader perspective of the key research issues that are facing our field.
What community organizations are you involved in?
I am currently the advisor for the student chapter of the AMS and serve as the local NIU manager for the WxChallenge team, which is a collegiate competition for weather analysis and forecasting. I also serve on science advisory panels at the local, regional and state levels.
What do you do to relax or recharge?
I enjoy fishing, camping and most outdoor activities. The ideal recharge day for me is one spent with a fishing pole in hand.