UCAR

Simmi Sinha

Communications OfficeCommunications Staff Digital Media Specialistsimmi@ucar.edu | 303-497-8602What I doDigital Media Specialist: conceptualize, design, and develop informational graphics and videos for general audiences.Media platforms: social media, presentation slide decks, brochures, posters, etc.My backgroundMy journey at UCAR started in February 2018 after moving to Colorado from California. I hold a B.A. in Communication (digital media) from the University of California, Davis, and most recently I worked as a research assistant at Caltech creating geologic maps for Nevada’s Basin and Range province. Prior to that, I spent four years in San Francisco working as a graphic designer/art director in tech and digital retail. Since moving to Colorado, I have decided to pursue a post-baccalaureate in atmospheric and oceanic sciences, part-time at CU Boulder, and my goal is to combine my love of the sciences with my passion for media.InterestsGeology: my curiosity for the Earth system sciences fuels my wanderlust and my desire to share the science.Traveling: 19 countries and counting!The great outdoors: hiking, camping, skiing, etc.Environmental conservation: we may be on a “pale blue dot” but it’s the only home we’ve got!

Reaching for GOLD

February 27, 2018 | As diversity becomes an increasingly important focus in the geosciences, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) is providing critical support to a nationwide group of pilot projects that use innovative approaches to make the field more inclusive.Geoscience Opportunities for Leadership in Diversity (GOLD) is a set of five projects, each of which takes a distinctly different approach to broadening participation by people of color, people with disabilities, women, and others who have been traditionally underrepresented in the geosciences. It focuses on developing leadership. The National Science Foundation developed GOLD in 2016 as part of a broad-based initiative to make the geosciences more diverse and inclusive."There is strength to bringing a diverse group together to generate new ideas," said Brandon Jones, the NSF program director overseeing GOLD. "Equitable input from a diverse group can yield a variety of solutions to address multiple challenges."The GOLD projects, each funded for up to three years, focus on professional development to empower a broad range of both majority and underrepresented professionals with the skills needed for sustained improvements in the areas of diversity and inclusion. The target groups include early career scientists and faculty, those in senior leadership positions, and researchers on field projects, among others."The great thing about GOLD is that the pilot projects each take a very different approach," said Carolyn Brinkworth, UCAR's chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer. "Achieving diversity in a systemic way requires a network of projects that support one another while helping us better understand what works and what doesn't."Carolyn BrinkworthBrinkworth is closely involved in the initiative, serving as a principal investigator or collaborator on three of the GOLD projects and as the principal investigator for GOLDEN, which provides the support infrastructure for the five pilot projects. GOLDEN also provides ongoing training for the GOLD principal investigators, fosters collaborations among the projects, and helps get the word out to the research community about GOLD.At a time of growing concern about the lack of diversity in the geosciences as well as increased reports of sexual harassment in workplaces in general, Brinkworth said there is widespread support across the research community for GOLD's objectives."One of the encouraging things is there's a huge community of people working together to increase diversity and inclusion in the geosciences," Brinkworth said. "GOLD is helping to elevate the discussion to a higher level and will hopefully generate gains in diversity that can be sustained over a period of time."Generating new ideas with outside expertsThe GOLD program was conceived in 2016 as part of a suite of NSF initiatives focusing on increasing diversity and inclusion in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM.To develop the best approaches for increasing diversity in the geosciences, NSF launched a relatively new funding mechanism called an "ideas lab" in March 2016. This intensive workshop brought together about 30 geoscientists, social scientists, and experts in change management to brainstorm multifaceted ways to foster a more inclusive atmosphere on multiple levels throughout the geosciences. The five resulting programs grew out of that lab, with each representing collaborations between institutions and teams comprised of geoscientists, broadening participation specialists, and social scientists."One key component to the success of the ideas lab was having social scientists and change management experts on equal footing with the geoscience practitioners," said Jones. "This is important for understanding cultural hurdles, like inherent biases, that have to be overcome to create an inclusive environment."The five pilot projects are:ASPIRE, or Active Societal Participation In Research and Education, which aims to cultivate a generation of geoscientists who can broaden participation, partly by emphasizing the social relevance of their fieldsFIELD, or Fieldwork Inspiring Expanded Leadership for Diversity, which focuses on making field experiences more diverse and inclusive, and thereby accessible to anyone with the motivation to take partGeoDES, or Geoscience Diversity Experiential Simulations, which provides professional development to geoscientists to increase their knowledge of prejudice and social justice issues and uses virtual simulations to train them on techniques to counteract prejudiceHearts of GOLD, which seeks to help develop champions for diversity by targeting established scientific leaders in the geosciences who have a history and interest in diversity, and providing them with professional development on the topicSparks for Change, which is an effort to increase the diversity of the geosciences by improving the culture of university departments and better supporting faculty from underrepresented populationsEach project has three to eight principal investigators from universities, UCAR, or other science or specialized training organizations."The success of the programs will come from creating a large network of people with the skills and confidence to be leaders in broadening participation," said Rebecca Batchelor, a principal investigator of the Sparks for Change project and director of UCAR's SOARS (Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Research and Science) program. "The goal is to develop both the next generation of geoscience leaders as well as a high number of champions for diversity."The projects, which have funding through 2019, will be evaluated carefully during the next year, Brinkworth said."We don't know the extent to which they have changed behavior yet, but we will be measuring this closely," she said. "There are going to be some great lessons learned from this."On the webGeoscience Opportunities for Leadership in DiversityA Sparks for Change workshop at UCAR in September 2017 drew about 30 participants. (Photo by Kendra Greb.)

UCAR statement on President Trump's budget proposal

Antonio Busalacchi, the president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), issued the following statement about the administration's budget proposal for fiscal year 2019:Today's budget proposal marks the formal starting point of a months-long process by the Trump administration and Congress to determine spending for the 2019 fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. UCAR will work with its member universities and other partners in the Earth system science community to ensure that the government continues to invest in crucial research that saves lives and property, fosters economic growth, and strengthens our national security.Although Congress agreed last week to increase spending levels for this fiscal year and next, today's budget proposal from the administration contains significantly lower spending levels in some areas. While it is not yet clear what the government’s investment in science will be, UCAR’s message will not change. We believe it is essential that cuts do not occur in important research areas that could put U.S. scientific leadership at risk. The budget should also support the goals of the Weather Research and Forecasting Improvement Act, which the president signed into law last year to improve forecasts for business and public safety officials as well as the general public. As we saw last year, improved understanding of the atmosphere is crucial for our nation's resilience. The United States endured 16 weather and climate disasters in 2017 that each cost $1 billion or more in damages, including Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, as well as devastating California wildfires, major tornado outbreaks, and floods. These events, which left hundreds dead, cost a combined total of more than $300 billion — setting a grim new annual record for the nation. Even routine weather events have an annual economic impact of hundreds of billions of dollars, affecting food production, transportation, supply chain management, consumer purchasing, and virtually every other economic sector. High in our atmosphere, space weather disturbances pose an ongoing threat to GPS systems, communications networks, power grids, and other technologies that are essential for U.S. military readiness and the everyday functioning of our society.Responding to these risks, scientists at government agencies, universities, and the multibillion-dollar private weather industry are successfully developing a new generation of observing instruments and computer models. We are gaining the ability to predict major atmospheric and related hazards weeks, months, or even more than a year in advance, providing needed intelligence to public safety, business, and military leaders. As rival nations make major investments into better understanding the Earth system, it is more imperative than ever to focus on this work and maintain U.S. preeminence.UCAR is extremely grateful to the bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate who voted for the Weather Research and Forecasting Improvement Act and who continue to support investments into research funding. We look forward to working with Congress and the administration over the coming months as they negotiate the details of next year’s budget. 

NCAR/UCAR Community Art Program Art Reception

The Community Art Program cordially invites you to an art reception for two new exhibits. Gallery l features Kathy Friesz, original abstract oil and mixed media paintings. Gallery ll features Mark Ludy, works of mixed media, digital, ink and paint. The reception is Saturday January 27th from 1-4 pm. Light refreshments will be served. The event will be held in the Mesa Lab cafeteria. Come meet the artists and be inspired by their beautiful artwork. Hope to see you there!

Preview all artists' work on the UCAR Community Art Calandar at: SciEd.ucar.edu/exhibits/community-art-program

A record winter during the American Revolution almost put independence on ice

December 18, 2017 | The seasonal forecasts are in for this winter, and they generally indicate relatively average conditions across much of the country's midsection, with wetter-than-normal weather likely in the north and dryness in the South.Continuing to improve these longer-term forecasts can help communities and businesses prepare for particular weather patterns — and possibly even save lives.In fact, a good seasonal forecast could even have made a difference during a critical moment in the American Revolution.This National Park Service painting portrays conditions at the Continental Army's New Jersey encampment in the winter of 1779-80, with a hospital hut in the foreground. (Image from Morristown National Historic Park.)No East Coast season on record was colder than the winter of 1779-80. All of the saltwater inlets, harbors, and sounds of the Atlantic coastal plain froze over from Canada to North Carolina, remaining closed to navigation for a month or more for the only time in recorded history.The winter happened to occur during the height of the Revolutionary War. George Washington and his soldiers were greeted by a foot of snow that already lay on the ground in November 1779 when they began arriving at their winter quarters outside Morristown, New Jersey.The ensuing winter months almost cost the young nation its independence. The Continental Army was hammered by repeated snowstorms, including a blizzard in early January that dumped four feet of snow. Many of the soldiers lacked coats, shirts, shoes, and even food.As the winter wore on, the soldiers became more embittered and mutinous than during the storied but milder winter two years earlier in Valley Forge. If not for help from surrounding communities during the winter of 1779-80, they may have deserted or even starved to death, potentially changing the course of history.Could such a winter be predicted today?Longer-term forecasting in the two-week to three-month range is one of the most difficult challenges in meteorology. These subseasonal to seasonal forecasts, while providing general guidance, still lack much precision.This winter, for example, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts that the chances are roughly equal for conditions that are wetter or drier than normal across large swaths of the mid-Atlantic. Even a forecast of a wetter-than-average winter could play out in many ways, from a series of light rains to a couple of blockbuster snowstorms.The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's forecast for wintertime precipitation, released in October, projects drier-than-normal conditions in the South and wetter-than-normal conditions in parts of the North. Click here for an analysis of the forecast by NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, as well as a forecast map that includes Alaska and Hawaii. To add more detail to such forecasts, scientists are working to better understand the links between U.S. weather patterns and large-scale atmospheric and oceanic conditions, such as El Niño and the North Atlantic Oscillation (more popularly known as the "polar vortex" when it ushers in cold weather).Recognizing the importance of such research, Congress in April passed the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act, a major weather bill that calls for more work into subseasonal to seasonal prediction.If the modern understanding of the atmosphere and oceans had existed during the American Revolution, perhaps Washington and his soldiers could have taken more precautions. The next time the nation is threatened by an unusually severe winter, better forecasts may make it possible to prepare."Scientists are gaining new insights into the entire Earth system in ways that will lead to predictions of weather patterns weeks, months, or even more than a year in advance," said UCAR President Antonio Busalacchi. "History shows this type of intelligence can be critical to national security, as well as to businesses and vulnerable communities."Writer/contact: David HosanskyManager of Media Relations  

2017 award winners honored at holiday party

December 12, 2017 | Staff and family members gathered at Center Green 1 on Friday, December 8, to celebrate the year's accomplishments and connect with colleagues from across the organization. 

UCAR Community Art Program Art Reception

The UCAR Community Art Program cordially invites you to an art reception for two new exhibits. Gallery l features Gary Molzan, oil & soft pastel painter. Gallery ll features Mark Zirinsky, aluminum sculptor. The reception is Saturday December 2nd from 5-8 pm. Light refreshments will be served. The event will be held in the Mesa Lab cafeteria, 1850 Table Mesa Drive, Boulder, CO. Come meet the artists and be inspired by their beautiful artwork. Hope to see you there!

Thank you

Outstanding accomplishment awards - 2017 nominees

November 27, 2017 | Winners will be announced on December 8 at the 2017 Outstanding Accomplishment Awards and Holiday Celebration in the Center Green auditorium.

UCAR names inaugural Next Generation Fellows

BOULDER, Colo. — The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research has announced winners of the inaugural UCAR Next Generation Fellowships. The first cohort of three graduate students was selected from a highly competitive field. The fellowships are intended for graduate students from underrepresented communities who hold an undergraduate degree in atmospheric or related Earth system science and are attending a North American university for graduate work. Successful candidates receive financial support for two years of graduate school and two summer internships.The program offers three distinct tracks: Earth system science, diversity and inclusion in the Earth system sciences, and public policy."I am excited to welcome this talented inaugural cohort," said Antonio Busalacchi, UCAR president. "We created the Next Generation Fellowships because we recognize the value and importance of fostering greater diversity in Earth system science. I look forward to the mutual benefits that interaction with our new fellows will bring and welcome them to the UCAR community."The 2017 UCAR Next Generation Fellows(*indicates a UCAR Member Institution)Tania Lopez - Earth System Science FellowCarnegie Mellon UniversityUCAR Fellow Tania Lopez At Carnegie Mellon University, Tania Lopez is studying civil and environmental engineering as a first-year Ph.D. student. Her examination of engineering design standards and of changes in observed extreme precipitation are the first phases in her research on the impact of climate change on precipitation patterns for stormwater infrastructure design decisions, performance, and resilience. Lopez is interested in developing more expertise in computational and statistical tools for analyzing precipitation data and understanding changes in current and projected future patterns. These interests will bring her to Boulder to strengthen collaboration with NCAR scientists during her summer internships in 2018 and 2019.Lopez received a B.S. in engineering physics from Mexico's Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (ITESM). She credits her family’s encouragement for her persistence pursuing and achieving her goals. "Despite the difficulties I came across pursuing higher education, I was not discouraged," she said. "My desire grew stronger and I could envision a clearer goal." That included a master’s in civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon, which she earned on the way to her current doctoral studies. "I have always felt passionate about my field, my decisions, and speaking up for minority inclusion," she said. Lopez sums up her career ambitions this way: "to serve as an effective intermediary between climate science and decision making concerned with engineered systems, where human needs and climate interact."Aara’L Yarber - Diversity and Inclusion FellowPennsylvania State University*UCAR Fellow Aara'L Yarber First-year doctoral student Aara’L Yarber is in the meteorology program at Pennsylvania State University. She is studying atmospheric and climate dynamics and their societal impacts, with particular interest in Africa and the Caribbean. Yarber is planning research using WRF, the Weather Research and Forecasting model, along with its dust module, with the goals of developing an observation network in West Africa and of improving understanding of dust transport and its linkage to respiratory disease. She will continue focusing on her dual interests in environmental science and environmental justice during her 2018 and 2019 summer internships in Boulder with the UCAR Office of Diversity and Inclusion.Yarber began her undergraduate studies at Howard University* with a focus on physics and astronomy. With several undergraduate courses in weather and climate under her belt, she then participated in an atmospheric field campaign in Sal, Cape Verde. It was the summer before her senior year, and during the campaign she "became fascinated with weather, climate, and air quality, and the effects of these phenomena on underrepresented groups." In pursuit of atmospheric science, she hopes "to contribute not only to scientific advancement but also positively influence social and environmental change." Her career goals include advocating for diversity in atmospheric science "not only for the sole purpose of scientific advancement but to provide voices for communities that have long faced environmental inequity."Linh Anh Cat - Public Policy FellowUniversity of California, Irvine*UCAR Fellow Linh Anh CatLinh Anh Cat is in the fourth year of the doctoral program in ecology at the University of California, Irvine. In addition to her dissertation work on patterns of fungal disease dispersal and climate change, she has written a science policy review linking that research to her public policy focus. The review examines valley fever, a fungal disease prevalent in the U.S. Southwest, and calls for binational cooperation with Mexico to study the negative impact of climate change on exposure. She will explore her policy interests during her summer 2018 and 2019 internships with UCAR’s Washington, D.C., office.For her undergraduate work at the University of Central Florida, Cat earned dual bachelor of science degrees in environmental studies (policy track) and in biology. She has contributed to an array of activities during her academic career that reflect her interest in working at the intersections of diversity, equity, inclusion, and science policy. In addition to her studies, these activities have ranged from organizing local science outreach events to serving on the American Association of University Women’s National Student Advisory Council to tackle women and minority representation in STEM. "My goal is to be a leader in science policy," Cat said. "I want to work on enacting innovative policies at the intersection between climate change, air quality, human health, and the disproportionate impact on women and minorities."

Investing in climate observations would generate major returns

November 14, 2017 | A major new paper by more than two dozen climate experts concludes that a well-designed climate observing system could deliver trillions of dollars in benefits while providing decision makers with the information they need in coming decades to protect public health and the economy."We are on the threshold of a new era in prediction, drawing on our knowledge of the entire Earth system to strengthen societal resilience to potential climate and weather disasters," said Antonio Busalacchi, president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research and one of the co-authors. "Strategic investments in observing technologies will pay for themselves many times over by protecting life and property, promoting economic growth, and providing needed intelligence to decision makers."Elizabeth Weatherhead, a scientist with the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder, is the lead author of the new paper, published last week in Earth's Future. The co-authors include two scientists associated with the National Center for Atmospheric Research: Jeffrey Lazo and Kevin Trenberth.The scientists urge that investments focus on tackling seven grand challenges. These include predicting extreme weather and climate shifts, the role of clouds and circulation in regulating climate, regional sea level change and coastal impacts, understanding the consequences of melting ice, and feedback loops involving carbon cycling.For more about the paper, see the CIRES news release.

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