In Random Profile, we interview a stochastically selected staff member about his or her life at the office—and outside of it.
Job Title: Associate Scientist
Years at UCAR/NCAR: It’s complicated
Fun Fact: Keeps a wizard costume in his office
You’re on what might be called the Tour de UCAR, having worked in ASP, COMET, HAO, CGD, and ACD. Let’s hear about your career progression. I officially started at NCAR in 1989 as an ASP postgraduate visiting scientist at the Naval Environmental Prediction and Research Facility in Monterey, California. Next I went to NOAA. In 1999, I left NOAA and came to COMET for a one-year position. After that, I was hired by HAO. I worked there for three years before I got laid off due to funding issues. So I left NCAR and worked across the street at Colorado Research Associates for a few months until they ran into funding issues as well. In 2003, CGD hired me. After that three-year project ran out, I started working for ACD on HIRDLS [High Resolution Dynamics Limb Sounder].
You can definitely claim to be well rounded. What is your role with HIRDLS? I’m a scientist/programmer. HIRDLS is an instrument aboard NASA’s Aura satellite that takes measurements from the middle troposphere to the mesosphere. It experienced technical problems after its launch in 2004 when a piece of insulation fell in front of its view. The piece is giving off its own radiance signature, so we need to subtract that out of the data. Before I arrived, John Gille and others did a first cut at programming around these technical problems. I’ve been working with John, trying out scientifically based ideas for improving on that first cut.
If you could order up any piece of magical technology to make your job easier, what would it be? It would be nice to have self-cleaning and self-documenting code. What I have the most trouble with is getting code from the research and testing mode into functioning code that other people can look at.
Moving away from data analysis, let’s talk about those lip sync contests. You have quite have a reputation around here as an entertainer. It’s the only chance I have to wear a dress. It all started at NOAA, where I worked my way into the group that planned staff parties. When I came here, I participated in a COMET lip sync right away and then became a rep for the EAC [Employee Activities Committee].
How did you first get interested in show business? Back in Cub Scouts, I did a routine to Tiny Tim’s version of “Tiptoe Through the Tulips,” so I guess being applauded for dancing with a top hat and cane got me started. I then did chorus and drama club in high school, performing in Damn Yankees and Hello, Dolly!. At NOAA, we did skits that were sort of like “Saturday Night Live.” At NCAR, I became chair of the holiday party committee. I introduced the idea of “dueling carols,” which we had done at NOAA. That was the start of the UCARolers.
And is it true that your family has a pet donkey with Hollywood aspirations? Lullabelle has been both on stage and on screen. She’s starred on some nativity stages during church Christmas performances, and few years ago I used a video of her in one of my lip sync acts.
What keeps you busy when you’re not programming or performing? I live in Fort Collins. I’ve been married for 28 years to Karen, and our daughter, Lauren, just started college at CSU. She’s interested in atmospheric science and spent two summers in HIRO, NCAR’s internship program for high school students. In addition to Lullabelle, we have two horses, four Nigerian dwarf goats, three dogs, three cats, and assorted cages and aquariums with a turtle, a newt, and some gerbils. The dwarf goats were Lauren’s 4-H project. She got two, bred them, and got two more. We say that they’re part of her dowry. When she gets married, she gets to take the donkey, four goats, and her chinchilla. Maybe we’ll throw in some bales of hay.
Is there anything about you that would surprise your co-workers? Well, they’ve already seen me in a dress. But they probably don’t know that I’m a Facebook
addict. About three years ago, I decided to try it out. At first it was just about finding old friends. But then I got into Farm Town [which preceded Farmville] because I was too polite to turn down requests. I like the virtual farm more than my real one. You can shut it down whenever you want, or when it’s 17 below, you can sit inside and check on the crops. And I’ve made lots of new friends from around the world, which is nice.
September 16, 2011