PSU celebrating the 40th anniversary of its meteorology program
Caption: Students, alumni, faculty and staff gathered for a group photo on the roof of Boyd Hall at Plymouth State University to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the PSU Meteorology Program. Nearly 100 Meteorology Program alumni and guests from across the U.S. attended the day-long event.

“One of the best in the nation” 

Plymouth State University celebrated the 40th anniversary of its acclaimed meteorology program at its Plymouth, New Hampshire campus on April 22, 2023, which coincided with this year’s observance of Earth Day. 

PSU’s nationally recognized meteorology program is unique in the state of New Hampshire and one of a small number of programs in the entire Northeast region. In addition to offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in meteorology, in 2021 the program launched its innovative and highly interdisciplinary climate studies bachelor of science degree, the only one of its kind in New Hampshire and one of a very few in the United States. 

“Over the past four decades, the meteorology program at PSU has consistently been one of the best in the nation for preparing students for careers in various related fields, so it is a special honor to be able to mark this milestone in our history,” said Meteorology Program Chair Lourdes Avilés, PhD. “As of this May, we will have graduated more than 400 meteorologists, a great majority of whom have gone on to careers in the government, broadcasting, and private industry sectors of our field or continued on to graduate school, academic careers, and research.” 

Graduate and undergraduate program alumni are commonly hired by the National Weather Service (NWS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as well as a growing list of local television stations across the country. 

“Our graduate program alumni who have applied for National Weather Service jobs, for example, have enjoyed a 100 percent placement rate as our students have an outstanding reputation,” Avilés said. “We have so many brilliant alumni staffing NWS and other NOAA offices, as well as TV stations throughout the nation and outside the US, it is amazing to see, and we are extremely proud.” 

The meteorology program features the Plymouth State Weather Center, a component of the Judd Gregg Meteorology Institute, one of the most sophisticated college or university weather centers in the country. As part of the day-long celebration, Avilés, Meteorology Professor Eric Hoffman, PhD, and the PSU student chapter of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) unveiled an upgraded digital map wall in the weather center. 

In 2003, PSU was among the first in the country to transition from the paper map wall traditionally used by university meteorology programs to a fully electronic, wall-sized map display setup. The new digital map wall, now in its third incarnation, boasts larger screens, seamless connections between panels and state-of-the-art weather mapping applications, which can display satellite imagery and radar scans of weather patterns with greater fidelity and resolution. Students use the map wall to analyze current weather conditions, compare them to the conceptual models from their coursework and examine computer simulations of the weather forecast. The setup is used in courses and informal conversations as a showcase of technology and weather information for visitors, and the weather center room where it is located serves as a community center for meteorology faculty, staff, and students.  

Alumni from across the country gathered for the event, with nearly 100 guests in attendance. After a full day of programming, alumni, students, and faculty gathered for a group photo on the roof of Boyd Hall. 

Attendees were treated to tours of the meteorology program facilities, lunch, and a panel discussion featuring successful alumni who leveraged their world class meteorology education from PSU to carve interesting and diverse career paths in the public and private sectors, and in journalism. The panel featured broadcast meteorologist Colleen Hurley, who reports the weather for the WMTW News 8 Weather Team in Maine; Joe Molloy, who founded EOC Environmental, a mold and asbestos inspection company for building projects, with five locations in New Hampshire and Massachusetts; Jeff Viel, a meteorologist and energy trader at WIN Waste Innovations in Portsmouth, New Hampshire; and Mac Simms, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service. 

“The meteorology program is small enough for individualized attention but big enough that it prepared me for any direction I could have chosen in the field,” Hurley said. “Thanks to the faculty there and the connections I made I can now say I have my dream job.” 

Molloy said he has been able to help clients of his mold inspection company by utilizing his knowledge of how temperature and humidity moves through a building, which he learned from his course in Atmospheric Thermodynamics.  

“Having a rigorous course load, part time employment and a desire to enjoy the outdoors, it was necessary to manage my time to allow for all of my passions and commitments,” Molloy said. “The meteorology program supported my career in environmental consulting by building strong problem solving, time management, communication and organizational skills.”      
PSU Provost Nathaniel Bowditch, PhD, gave remarks about the importance of the program to the university and to the meteorology field.  

“The meteorology program here is one of the crown jewels of PSU, and we could not be prouder of our students, alumni, faculty, and staff,” Bowditch said. “We’re grateful and proud that alumni go on to work in forecasting, broadcasting, emergency management, and a number of industries and fields where understanding the weather is crucial to business and to our lives.” 

Avilés gave a presentation about the history of the program, and senior Marissa Vigevani, president of the AMS Student Chapter, gave an update on the latest chapter activities, and students Robbie Christian, Sincere Miranda, Marissa Vigevani, and Matthew Steen shared some of their research work across a variety of topics including snow bands in Nor’easters, low-level wind shear affecting aircraft, public understanding of weather broadcasts, and an evaluation of radar precipitation estimates.

PSU's Meteorology Program unveiling an upgraded, state-of-the-art digital map wall
Caption: Plymouth State University’s Meteorology Program unveiled an upgraded, state-of-the-art digital map wall located in Boyd Hall as part of its 40th anniversary celebrations on Saturday, April 22, 2023.  
Provost Nathaniel Bowditch and his dog Spinoza testing out the green screen in the university’s meteorology studio
Caption: Plymouth State University Provost Nathaniel Bowditch and his dog Spinoza testing out the green screen in the university’s meteorology studio during a tour of Boyd Hall as part of the Meteorology Program’s 40th anniversary celebration.