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In Random Profile, we interview a stochastically selected staff member about his or her life at the office—and outside of it.
Programs: DLS, NSDL, NCAR Library
Job Title: Software Engineer
Years at UCAR: 15
Fun Fact: Took first place in the 2007 Up-the-Hill bike race
You claim three divisions as home. How does that work? I’m in IIS, or Integrated Information Services, which you won’t see on the UCAR organizational chart. It comprises the NCAR Library and UCP's Digital Learning Services. It just formed last year, so we’re still figuring things out a bit. I also work closely with the National Science Digital Library in UCP.
You’re about to celebrate your 15-year anniversary with UCAR. Tell us about your career progression. I’m trained as a meteorologist and also have a degree in instructional design. I first came to UCAR as an associate scientist in COMET. They went through some layoffs and a group of us were asked to make a small new division in UCP called PAGE—Program for Advancement of Geoscience Education—that only existed for a few years before it morphed into the DLESE Program Center, which then morphed into DLS. Next, I started working for NSDL and the NCAR Library, and then we became IIS.
And has your job also changed over the years? Yes, I went from an associate scientist to software engineer, a dramatic change. I started out working on COMET modules, and then when I became part of DLESE, my director asked me if I knew anything about metadata. I said, "No, but I could learn." For a while I was the only metadata architect at UCAR. The job involved information modeling and becoming well versed in metadata standards and protocols. Then I started learning Python programming, XSLT, and other programs, and working with XML schemas. Then I made the jump to the software engineering track.
Describe your typical day at work. Even though I’m a software engineer, right now I don’t do much coding. I’m a coprincipal investigator on a brand-new grant, so I work with a lot of the sub-awardees on that, doing customer relations. I probably only spend a quarter of my day actually writing code. And our division has gone through a lot of staff changes lately, so I’m training new staff members.
Is there anything that you wouldn’t be able to survive the workday without? Chocolate. Our division lives on chocolate.
Time for the fun questions. Let’s hear about your life outside work. I have four-legged children: two cats, Charlie and Mona. We rescued them from a 92-year-old woman who passed away. Otherwise, they would have gone to a shelter. In my free time, I like to crochet, and I’m a Civil War history buff.
How did your interest in Civil War history start? In sixth grade, I remember looking through Mathew Brady’s Civil War photographs. It stuck, and I’ve been interested ever since. When I worked for the American Meteorological Society in Washington, D.C., I would explore battle sites every weekend. I like to think about what happened weatherwise and how that came together with terrain to impact some of the battles.
Do you have a favorite Civil War site? Chancellorsville in Virginia. The battle was in May 1863 and is famous because Stonewall Jackson was killed. It’s one of the less-visited sites, which is why I like it. It also has a lot of historical artifacts.
You mentioned that you like to crochet. I make clothes, toys, purses. I was taught by my mom when I was really young. I know how to knit, too, but I prefer to crochet. It’s faster and I find it easier.
What else do you do in your free time? My husband, Tom, and I bike a lot. I like riding down Cherryvale and Baseline roads, where you don’t see the cityscape but can see the mountains. I also really enjoy cooking. Soup is my forté.
One last question: Are the rumors true that NCAR Library director Mary Marlino set you up with your husband? Yes, Mary played the matchmaker. She and Tom, who is a geophysicist, were on a business trip to San Antonio. They got to talking and Mary told him she wanted to introduce him to somebody. We just celebrated our tenth anniversary.
November 30, 2011