Travis Metcalfe, NCAR's High Altitude Observatory • How common are planets like Earth around other stars like the Sun? Are we unique, rare, or typical in that regard? Metcalfe likes asking big questions.
Geoffrey Tyndall, NCAR's Atmospheric Chemistry Division • As a physical chemist, Tyndall likes "quantifying things, putting numbers on them—how fast does this go, and why is this reaction faster than that one?"
Mercy Borbor-Cordova, NCAR's Advanced Study Program • Two things are critical for academic success, says Borbor-Cordova, who combines interests in environmental science and public policy. One is persistence. The other is what makes persistence possible: choosing subject(s) you really love.
Cory Morse, NCAR's Research Applications Laboratory • Morse trained in science, but has the soul of an engineer, which makes her job as a software engineer in NCAR's applied research group a perfect fit.
James Done, NCAR's Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology Division • A meteorologist, Done examines weather forecasts generated by computer models to better understand severe weather and long-term climate change. Recently, that has meant homing in on tropical meteorology and hurricanes.
Julien Wang, Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Research and Science (SOARS) • When it came time to choose a major, Wang was torn between the arts and her growing interest in the environment. Finally, she chose environmental engineering. One recent project: designing a green roof.
Lou Verstraete, NCAR's Earth Observing Laboratory • As a senior technician, Verstraete manages a self-contained meteorological observing system that's deployed on field projects around the country and the world.
Aaron Pratt, Howard University • Pratt became hooked on hurricanes when the one named Hugo took aim at the Carolina coast 18 years ago. Now, the Ph.D. candidate is studying how dust affects the birth of such storms on the other side of the Atlantic.
Aiguo Dai, NCAR's Climate and Global Dynamics Division • After graduating from high school, Dai applied to the math department at China's Nanjing University.
"They didn't want me, so they put me in the meteorology department instead," Aiguo says. "But I think it turned out very well for me."
Christopher Castro, University of Arizona • Castro always had what he calls a passing interest in weather, but he never thought of his hobby as a career path. Now he’s a professor of atmospheric science and a researcher working on better forecasts of the Southwest's torrential summer rains.
Hector Socas-Navarro, NCAR's High Altitude Observatory • When this astrophysicist 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 Socas-Navarro decided to become a scientist.
Waleska Rivera Rios, Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Research and Science (SOARS) • In 2005, Rivera Rios was on her way to earning a doctorate in environmental science from the Universidad del Turabo in Puerto Rico.
Marina LaGrave, Spark: UCAR Science Education • When she began translating an educational website about Earth and planetary science, LaGrave realized that her intended audience wouldn't visit the site if they didn’t know it existed.
Doug Nychka, NCAR's Institute for Mathematics Applied to the Geosciences • A statistician by training, Doug leads IMAGe in its mission to bring mathematical models and tools to bear on fundamental problems in the geosciences.
Casey Thornbrugh, University of Arizona • Mention statistics to most middle schoolers and, unless you're talking about odds for poker hands, the response is likely to be an eye roll. When Thornbrugh was in middle school, though, his hobby was climate statistics.
Laura Pan, NCAR's Atmospheric Chemistry Division • Pan describes herself as an "accidental" scientist. She never intentionally set out to pursue a science career, but her pursuit of knowledge and understanding, however, is anything but accidental.
Jack Fox, NCAR's Design and Fabrication Services • Jack's favorite part of the job is brainstorming with researchers who come to the machine shop with everything from hazy visions of the instruments they want to highly detailed drawings they've prepared.
Kaye Howe, UCAR's National Science Digital Library • "Science is part of the Renaissance dream of a life of the mind," Howe says. "I don't participate in science in a professional way, but rather as a wonderful approach to knowledge and understanding."