Summer Research Focuses on Climatology – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Summer Research Focuses on Climatology

“The ability to work with summer research students at HWS is one of the most exciting opportunities for me as a teacher,” says Assistant Professor of Geoscience Nick Metz, who is working with Pamela Eck ’15 and Augusta “Gussie” Williams ’13 this summer, conducting research on climatology.

Though the students are working on separate projects, both are conducting research under the mentorship of Metz. For Eck, the aim of the summer’s study is “to determine if the average monthly rainfall amount in each of 10 different cities across the continental U.S. is made up of a few severe precipitation events, or if it is made up of numerous small scale precipitation events,” Eck explains.

Eck is most excited about the prospect of discovery. “I think that the most challenging part will be figuring out how to analyze the data once I have collected it. The research we are doing has never been done before!”

Metz and Williams are looking at mesoscale convective systems, which he explains are “organized regions of showers and thunderstorms that often produce damaging wind.”

A geoscience teaching assistant and teaching fellow, Williams says she has made a few discoveries about herself in the research process. “I have really been able to see how I have grown as a researcher. I haven’t noticed it along the way, but as I’m doing data analysis, I have really been able to verify how I’ve learned and transformed here. I owe it all to HWS and previous and current research advisers,” she says.

For Metz, the combined research of his students is a part of the educational experience in multiple ways. “I believe that research is a vital part of any atmospheric science class, especially at the upper levels. Interesting results will be incorporated into class as appropriate, but more importantly, these projects have already given me ideas about other related research projects that can serve as assignments or projects in future classes that I teach.”

Eck is a member of the Colleges’ percussion ensemble, the secretary of the Habitat for Humanity club, and is active in intramural sports, and as a tour guide on campus for the Office of Admissions.

Williams has served as an orientation mentor, plays the saxophone in the Colleges’ woodwind ensemble, is a member of Learn to Lead, and will be doing an honors project next year, continuing her past research project on using weather radar to track waterfowl migration over the Great Salt Lake, Utah.

Metz received a B.S. from Valparaiso University and a M.S. from the University of Albany. In 2011, he earned a Ph.D. from the University of Albany. Metz previously taught at the University at Albany, for which he received the Vonnegut Award for excellence in teaching in 2010. He has published papers, presented at numerous conferences, and produced technical reports on many aspects of atmospheric science including summertime convective systems, large-scale cyclones, and cold-air outbreaks.

In the photo above, Assistant Professor of Geoscience Nicholas Metz joins his summer research assistants Augusta Williams ’13 and Pamela Eck ’15 for a photo outside of Demarest Hall.