UNC Charlotte undergraduate research

The Meteorology Program here at UNC Charlotte is embedded in the Geography and Earth Sciences Department. We have solid core of undergraduate Meteorology BSc majors and coursework in the major is mostly supported by 4 faculty – Dr Adams, Dr Eastin, Mr Shirley, and myself. What has impressed me since I joined the faculty has been how often undergraduates are involved in research and independent study as they prepare for life after college.

I’ve been working with an undergraduate Meteorology major named Daniel Cunningham since July 2012 on a project about global lightning distributions – which is related to my fire research. Daniel has been working hard to keep up with coursework and the research project all year, and his efforts culminated in a nice finish in his senior year. He won 1st place for departmental research projects at the UNC Charlotte Undergraduate Research Conference! Here’s the department announcement. Daniel presented a poster called “Extending the Time Series of Satellite-Based Lightning Observations” – here’s a key figure he made with Panoply explaining what he did.

Global lightning map before D. Cunningham's research (top) and after (bottom).  Northern latitudes were completely missing before his project started.  Evaluation of the results are the next step.

Global lightning map before D. Cunningham’s research (top) and after (bottom). Northern latitudes were completely missing before his project started. Evaluation of the results are the next step.

This research has helped in many ways. Daniel was accepted into the University of Alabama Huntsville Atmospheric Sciences graduate program starting Fall 2013, he has picked up programming skills (Matlab), learned about statistical models of physical phenomena, learned how to mathematically explore large data set, how to make figures, and finally how to put together a prize-winning poster. Here is the UNC Charlotte announcement. Undergraduate research is how I got started on my long path to the faculty position here at UNC Charlotte. Perhaps not coincidentally, that undergraduate research was about lightning – I’ve returned to my roots.

Congratulations to Daniel. Also, on the theme of undergraduate research, three of our meteorology majors in total walked away with top awards. Brandy Stimac works with Dr Adams and Dr Eastin. Ricky Huff works with Dr Adams. Undergraduate research is strong in the Meteorology program! I’m looking forward to seeing graduation this year. I think the class size is about 10 students, and about 5 will go to graduate school, and 1 will be working to be a K-12 science teacher. Again, good numbers to see!

About Brian Magi

Associate Professor, Department of Geography and Earth Sciences
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