Pamela Eck ‘15, a geoscience major with a focus in atmospheric science, has been interning for the Storm Prediction Center this summer located at The National Weather Center in Norman, Oklahoma on the University of Oklahoma campus.
Eck has been working on her research project, “Using 2011-2014 SSEO Verification Metrics to Assess Uncertainty in Severe Weather Forecasts,” which utilizes weather data collected from 2011-2014 to try to determine the uncertainty between the different models. Meteorologists use models to approximate how the atmosphere will change with time based on the current conditions, allowing them to forecast the weather. She has been working with a combination of different models called the Storm Scale Ensemble of Opportunity (SSEO) in order to determine what models do well, and when they do it well.
“This is one of the preeminent meteorological facilities in the country where meteorologists provide country-wide forecasts for severe weather (such as tornadoes) and researchers consistently provide new tools to help these forecasters become better at their jobs,” says Assistant Professor of Geoscience Nick Metz. “The fact that Pamela was able to get an internship at a facility such as the Storm Prediction Center not only speaks to Pamela’s hard work but how well her HWS education has positioned her to be competitive in the field of meteorology at the highest levels.”
In the spring of 2013, Eck was accepted into the Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship Program. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), seeks to increase undergraduate training in oceanic and atmospheric science, research, technology, outreach and education. A Hollings Scholar is provided with up to $8,000 in academic assistance and a 10-week, paid full-time summer internship at a NOAA facility in the summer of 2014. Awards also include all travel expenses to attend orientations and conferences.
“The NOAA Ernest Hollings Scholarship is an outstanding opportunity for undergraduate students, says Associate Professor of Geoscience Neil Laird. “These scholarships are extremely competitive with thousands of students across a large range of disciplines applying from colleges and universities each year and only 100-150 students receiving the scholarships.”
Eck allocates her success in earning her scholarship to her liberal arts education she has received at HWS.
“Coming from a liberal arts school, my Geoscience major gave me a well-rounded education of all aspects of NOAA (weather, oceans, climate, etc.), not just the meteorology,” says Eck. “I believe it was my education at HWS that got me the Hollings Scholarship and allowed me to come work at the SPC this summer.”
Eck’s time at HWS has prepared her just as much as a large institution could have. Being the only student intern out of eight from a private liberal arts college, Eck at first felt intimidated.
“I think the most valuable thing I’ve learned from my education at HWS is that just because I don’t come from a huge research university doesn’t mean that I can’t be just as competitive as someone who does,” says Eck. “At first, it was very intimidating, but over the past few weeks, I have learned that I am just as capable as everyone else.”
When she isn’t working at The National Weather Center, Eck has had the opportunity to shadow forecasters, take a tour of the phased array radar, attend seminars, and even go storm chasing!
“The coolest part by far was going storm chasing. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see a tornado, but I did get to see some landspouts, which were awesome,” says Eck. “This summer was my first time traveling west and just seeing the sky alone is breathtaking. It is so flat that you can see for miles with no obstructions. Seeing the storm that produced those landspouts reminded me of why I love meteorology so much.”
On campus, Eck serves as the president of Habitat for Humanity, is a Civic Leader through CCESL, and is a tour guide at the Office of Admissions.