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Meteorology students present research at national conference

Students from the WKU meteorology program presented their research findings at the 93rd annual meeting of American Meteorological Society.

WKU meteorology students (from left) Tyler Binkley, Andrew Dockery, John L. Thomas, Quentin Walker and Ryan Difani presented their research poster during the Student Conference at the2013 AMS annual meeting.

WKU meteorology students (from left) Tyler Binkley, Andrew Dockery, John Logan Thomas, Quentin Walker and Ryan Difani presented their research poster at the 2013 American Meteorological Society meeting.

Each winter, the American Meteorological Society hosts a research conference that brings in thousands of meteorologists, climatologists and weather enthusiasts. The meeting is among the largest in the world and, according to the AMS, “promotes the development and dissemination of information and education on the atmospheric and related oceanic and hydrologic sciences and the advancement of their professional applications.”

Taking Predictions to the Next Level: Expanding Beyond Today’s Weather, Water, and Climate Forecasting and Projections was the theme of this year’s meeting — held Jan. 6-10 in Austin, Texas.

Out of 11 WKU meteorology students who attended the conference, three students, along with three WKU National Science Foundation-Research Experience for Undergraduates (NSF-REU) students, presented research findings.

During the summer of 2012, Dr. Rezaul Mahmood, Dr. Xingang Fan and Dr. Josh Durkee, all from WKU’s Department of Geography and Geology, provided a 10-week research experience for undergraduate students from outside WKU as part of the university’s REU program. WKU’s Ogden College of Science and Engineering interdisciplinary NSF-REU program was hosted by the Department of Chemistry and Department of Geography and Geology (PI-Dr. Cathleen Webb; Co-PI Dr. Rezaul Mahmood). This was the sixth year for the research program.

WKU student Emily Yates presented her meteorology research poster at the conference in Austin, Texas.

WKU student Emily Yates presented her meteorology research at the conference in Austin, Texas.

Additionally, Dr. Durkee hosted an summer undergraduate research seminar that offered six WKU meteorology students, parallel to the REU program, a hands-on, realistic inquiry-based research experience. Dr. Durkee served as research advisor to two additional independent research endeavors for four WKU meteorology students during the fall 2012 semester. Together, these projects served as WKU’s contribution for dissemination of important research findings at the annual AMS meeting.

The WKU meteorology student research participants included: Andrew Dockery of Taylorsville; John Logan Thomas of Brentwood, Tenn.; Quentin Walker of Dixon; Ryan Difani of Pocahontas, Ark.; Tyler Binkley of Ashland City, Tenn.; Michael Flanigan of Pewee Valley; Emily Yates of Brentwood, Tenn.; and Christopher Johnson of Bowling Green. The WKU REU researchers included Tami Gray of Cleveland, Miss., and Andrew Fultz of Starkville, Miss., both students at Mississippi State University; and Lara Schisler of Prescott, Ariz. , a student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Gray received a third-place award for best overall research presentation.

Here is a list of presenters and their research topics:

  • Christopher Johnson, Emily Yates, Quentin Walker, Michael Flanigan and Dr. Josh Durkee,: A re-analysis of the 16 April 1998 record hail and urban tornado across south-central Kentucky and Nashville, Tenn.
  • Emily Yates and Dr. Josh Durkee: A case study the 9 March 2012 record setting severe weather event over Oahu, Hawaii.
  • Andre Dockery, Ryan Difani, Quentin Walker, Michael Flanigan, Tyler Binkley, John Logan Thomas and Dr. Josh Durkee: A case study of a rare long-track EF-3 tornado in eastern Kentucky.
  • Tami Gray and Dr. Josh Durkee: A Hydroclimatology for the Green River watershed in west-central Kentucky during 1979-2010.
  • Andrew Fultz, Dr. Rezaul Mahmood and Dr. Josh Durkee: The impact of urbanization on daily precipitation trends across the Kentucky-Indiana Ohio River Valley.
  • Lara Schisler, Dr. Rezaul Mahmood and Dr. Xingang Fan: Modern urban impacts on regional weather of the central U.S.
WKU meteorology students (from left) Quentin Walker, Emily Yates and Chris Johnson presented their poster at the annual conference.

WKU meteorology students (from left) Quentin Walker, Emily Yates and Christopher Johnson presented their poster at the annual conference.

“Here at WKU, we continuously strive to provide professional research opportunities for our students to experience,” Dr. Durkee said. “Our students are going to be leading professionals in the near future, so we offer these professional opportunities for them now in order for them remain competitive in the workforce and to hit the ground running upon graduation.”

New research projects are under way as students and faculty prepare for the next annual AMS meeting, which takes place in Atlanta in February 2014.

“Supporting students at conferences and field-research sites is one of the cornerstones of our professional Meteorology program at WKU,” said Geography and Geology Department Head, Dr. David Keeling. “There is no substitute for real-time experience in presenting research at professional conferences, as this builds critical skills for students as they prepare to embark on their careers beyond college.”

Contact: Josh Durkee, (270) 745-8777 or joshua.durkee@wku.edu

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