In Random Profile, we interview a stochastically selected staff member about his or her life at the office—and outside of it.
Staff Notes: You came to RAL in 1999 as a graduate research assistant while working on your Ph.D. in mathematics at CU-Boulder. You've worn several hats in the division, starting out as a project scientist before becoming a software engineer. Tell us about your job.
Greg: I’m a mathematician working as a software engineer in a place that does atmospheric research. My area of expertise is turbulence and radar. The project I’ve been working on longest is an algorithm that goes onto commercial aircraft, senses turbulence, and radios down that information. I work on another project for NEXRAD [the Next-Generation Radar network], working on using signal processing to improve data quality. I also work on a project where you put the two together and try to detect turbulence using NEXRAD radars—the NEXRAD Turbulence Detection Algorithm (NTDA).
Staff Notes: What do you like best about your job?
Greg: I like that what I do has an impact for the greater good—working on turbulence detection algorithms so that people aren’t flying into turbulence, and working on algorithms that go onto NEXRAD, which lots of people use. I like the variety that comes from having different projects; there are many good challenges and I get to think. I have engineering problems to work on and I also have science problems, and I get to help bridge that gap, which is what RAL is all about.
Staff Notes: What would you do if you weren’t a software engineer or even working in this field?
Greg: I don’t know if I’d really want to do it as a profession, but I love rafting. I’ve been down the Grand Canyon and have gone on a dozen or more rafting trips. I also really like geology—that interest came out of rafting. I like evolutionary biology and a lot of Earth sciences. Photography might be another thing I’d like to do.
Staff Notes: Where did you grow up?
Greg: I grew up in Massachusetts and came out here for grad school. At that point, I’d never been west of the Mississippi. When I came out here I drove, and the first part of the mountain west that I saw was an amazing sunset near Santa Fe. Later on that trip, I pulled an all-nighter driving from Phoenix to Boulder. I came up over the top of the hill on U.S. 36 at sunrise with the blue sky and the mountains tinged pink. That was my first view of Boulder and I was pretty hooked. A bit delirious, too, so it made a strong impression. I’ve never wanted to leave.
Staff Notes: Tell us about your life outside work.
Greg: My wife, Kirsten, and I have two kids. Klara is five and Calvin is three. Kirsten used to work in EO. We live in Gunbarrel.
Staff Notes: What does your family do for fun?
Greg: We’ve taken the kids rafting a few times. A nice place to take them is on the Colorado River near Fruita at the Ruby/Horsethief Canyons. We’ve also taken them on the San Juan in Utah and to Pumphouse, near Kremmling, on the Colorado. Otherwise, I like the Green River and Yampa through Dinosaur National Monument.
We love to go camping and have a little pop-up camper. The kids are learning to ski up at Eldora now. I’m not a downhill skier, so I’m learning as they learn. I swam in college at the University of Massachusetts and now I swim, along with my wife, with the Boulder Aquatic Masters. My wife and I did triathlons for a while, and we both did an Ironman in Lake Placid. She beat me by two and a half hours.
Staff Notes: What’s the hardest section of a triathlon for you?
Greg: From a race standpoint, the biking. I don’t have the right strength-to-weight ratio.
Staff Notes: Any exciting plans on the horizon?
Greg: Yes, we’re about to leave for vacation in Hawaii.
January 27, 2011