Macy Howarth ’16 was recently named to the prestigious Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship Program, making her one of just 106 students in the country who were selected this year. Offered through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the highly competitive program seeks to increase undergraduate training in oceanic and atmospheric science, research, technology, outreach and education.
“I am honored to receive this award,” says Howarth, a geoscience major with a concentration in atmospheric sciences. “It is an amazing opportunity to continue my education outside of the classroom.”
The scholarship marks the second national honor Howarth has received this spring. In April, she also was awarded the Goldwater Scholarship, the premier undergraduate award of its type in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering.
Howarth says her experiences in the classroom and conducting research through the Geoscience Department propelled her interests in meteorology. She credits her academic adviser, Assistant Professor of Geoscience Nick Metz, for his guidance in pursuing the scholarship.
“HWS, and the amazing faculty in the Geoscience Department, including my adviser, Professor Metz, have prepared me by providing opportunities to conduct research, as well as through the comprehensive and interesting classes I have taken,” Howarth says. “This gave me the passion and experience to pursue and earn the Hollings Scholarship.”
Metz says the Hollings Scholars are some of the best and the brightest students in their areas of study in the country. He says Howarth is the second recipient of the award in as many years. In 2013, Pamela Eck ’15 was named Hollings Scholar.
“It shows that the students in the sciences at HWS are really able to compete with students at any institution, large or small, across the country,” Metz says. “At Hobart and William Smith, not only can you thrive in your particular discipline and course of study, but you’re getting a well-rounded education and the foundation of the liberal arts ideals.”
Metz says Howarth has showed tremendous initiative with her work. He says the research she conducted last summer was at the level of a senior Honors project or master’s level. Last summer, Howarth worked with Metz on researching why a severe thunderstorm that crossed Lake Michigan was significantly under-forecast – 24 to 32 times more rain fell than was forecast. The storm resulted in $17 million in damage, hundreds of thousands of power outages and one death.
In addition to the scientific challenge, Howarth was drawn to the research project because of the real-world impacts on the people who live in cities downstream of Lake Michigan. She presented the findings of their work at both the 2014 American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting and the 2014 Northeastern Storm Conference.
This past winter, Howarth was also one of nine student researchers working on the National Science Foundation-funded “Ontario Winter Lake-effect Systems (OWLeS)” project. OWLeS brought together more than a half-dozen colleges, universities and agencies from across the country to collaborate on research in the Lake Ontario and Finger Lakes regions. During lake-effect snow events, HWS student researchers worked shifts to launch weather balloons to collect data on variables like wind speed and temperature throughout the atmosphere. Howarth also worked to “nowcast” and keep teams in the field updated on the position of the lake effect bands, or present the forecast for the day.
This summer, Howarth continues to learn and immerse herself in the study of meteorology as she conducts summer research, which includes investigating data from the OWLeS project.
Following her time at HWS, Howarth says she intends to seek a Ph.D. in atmospheric sciences with a focus in mesoscale meteorology, in order to pursue a career in teaching and research at the undergraduate level. “I want to teach at an institution like HWS because it has made such an impact on my education,” Howarth says.
“Through classes, research opportunities and working closely with faculty, I have received the best, hands-on education I could. I want the opportunity to conduct my research with undergraduates and give them the educational experiences I have now.”