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're a research relations specialist in the NCAR Director's Office. What does that mean?
Rachel: My job consists of a lot of outreach, both internally within the organization's different groups and externally to other scientific organizations, potential partners, and our funders and stakeholders. We want to promote NCAR's science. It's important to let people know what we're doing and how we use their tax money or funds they provide. I also manage the NCAR Journalism Fellowship.
Staff Notes: What do you like best about your job?
Rachel: I like talking to scientists and translating the work they do into language that ordinary mortals can understand. If I can understand it, I figure the bulk of the population can understand it. Probably the most challenging thing about my job is trying to understand the science, but it's a fun challenge.
I've got a sweet job. I think I have the best job at NCAR—or right up there anyway! I go to a lot of great meetings. I've gone to two United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change meetings, in Bali, Indonesia  and Poznan, Poland . It was probably the most bureaucratic thing I've seen in my life—I'm surprised anything gets done—but it was exciting to see the U.N. process in action.
Staff Notes: What got you interested in working at a science research center?
Rachel: My background is in physical geography. I studied snow hydrology, looking at heat transfer through the snowpack. I love cryospheric topics and snow and ice regions.
And I come from a science family. My younger brother is a pediatrician and my older brother is a plant geneticist. My dad is a research physician who looks at the epidemiology of epilepsy, and my mom is a pathologist.
Staff Notes: What did you do before you came to NCAR?
Rachel: I was a freelance technology writer for seven years. I also wrote a food column for the Daily Camera for a long time. Before that, I worked for a year and a half during the "dot bomb," just as it peaked and busted, at a high-tech PR company in Denver.
Staff Notes: A food column sounds fun. How did that come about?
Rachel: I grew up eating well and I still eat well. Both my parents cooked and we ate things in the '70s and '80s that hardly anyone else was eating, like homemade curries, boeuf Bourguignon, and lots of Mexican food (not Tex-Mex, but real Mexican food). I had out-of-the-ordinary things like oysters Rockefeller at a young age, stuff that everyone eats now but was kind of esoteric then. My mom watched Julia Child on television and had a lot of cookbooks that she used for culinary inspiration. She made an amazing turkey mole. My dad was just a natural cook.
Staff Notes: Do you have a favorite place to eat out?
Rachel: I like Z Cuisine, a French restaurant in Denver. In Boulder, the place Ilike to go but can't afford is Frasca. And Arugula is good.
Staff Notes: Where did you grow up?
Rachel: I lived in Minnesota until I was 12, and then moved to just outside Manhattan until I was 18. Then I went off to school in Montreal. I wanted to go to England, but it was too far away, so I opted for Canada instead. It turned out to be a great choice.
Staff Notes: What brought you to Boulder?
Rachel: I worked on Wall Street in the World Trade Center for a year and a half as a trader's assistant but didn't enjoy it. In one of my college ecology classes there was work done by people in the biology department at CU, so that brought me out here. I went back to Canada for a year of grad school but decided that I'm not an academic. I came back to Boulder and got a job as a writer at the National Snow and Ice Data Center.
Staff Notes: What do you do for fun?
Rachel: I just bought a new bike-a super sexy road bike. It's amazingly speedy. I got to test it out on the MS150 ride this summer, which went from Broomfield to Ft. Collins and back. In winter, I like to skate ski. Devil's Thumb is my favorite place but Eldora is fun, if hilly, and way more convenient. I just did my first triathlon—Joanne Graham in ESSL/CGD conned me into doing it. I'd do another but I have to figure out how to make the swim part go quicker.
Staff Notes: Any big plans on the horizon?
Rachel: I'm going to Australia for two weeks in November for fun, to see a good friend from university who lives in Melbourne. Apparently the jasmine will be in bloom, so the sights and smells of jasmine flowers will provide a perfect backdrop to our plans for a little bit of travel mixed with a lot of sloth.
September 22, 2009