Having fostered a passion for meteorology through research, coursework and internships as an HWS student, Macy Howarth ’16 is pursuing her master’s in atmospheric sciences at SUNY Albany, one of the top programs in the country to study atmospheric sciences. Her graduate research focuses on changes related to climate change.
“In recent years, we have noticed that extreme precipitation – rain that causes flooding – is increasing in the Northeast,” explains Howarth. “My research looks to answer why this might be happening. Are we getting extreme rain more often? Are storms lasting longer? Are they producing more rain?”
Her research is being done in collaboration with scientists in Taiwan, whose work focuses on building extreme weather resiliency through improved weather and climate prediction. Howarth will travel to Taiwan this summer to participate in the annual project meeting, and is currently taking Chinese lessons to prepare. In addition to her research, which will be the basis of her master’s thesis, Howarth serves as a research assistant and is enrolled in a full course load.
“Being a graduate student is a lot about taking what you learn in the classroom and applying it to your research, making the connections and being independent,” Howarth says. “I was fortunate at HWS to have several opportunities to pursue research and learn these skills prior to actually being a graduate student.”
At HWS, Howarth conducted Honors research on average and extreme wind chills in North America and how they have changed across previous decades. She credits her research advisers, Assistant Professor of Geoscience Nick Metz and Professor of Geoscience Neil Laird, as being “invaluable to her education.” She also worked on the Ontario Winter Lake-effect Systems project under the guidance of Laird and Metz.
“Attending a liberal arts college where I took classes in other subjects that were not just focused on science, helps me to think of the broader reach of the science and my research,” she says. “It widens the tunnel vision.”
After graduate school, Howarth hopes to pursue a career in climate change policy – a path that will allow her to combine mitigating climate change with educating the public on its impact.
During her sophomore year at HWS, Howarth received a NOAA Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship, a highly competitive program which seeks to increase undergraduate training in oceanic and atmospheric science, research, technology, outreach and education. In 2014, she was named a Goldwater Scholar, the premier undergraduate award in the field of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering. As part of her NOAA scholarship, Howarth completed a 2015 summer internship with the NWS Office of Communications in Washington, D.C.
She graduated summa cum laude in geoscience with a concentration in atmospheric sciences, and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa.