This summer I have had the wonderful opportunity to intern as an undergraduate research assistant for the meteorology department here at Plymouth State University, together with several other undergraduate and graduate students working on various research projects.
The National Science Foundation funded a collaborative Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) between Plymouth State University and Hobart and William Smith Colleges (HWS). It had around 100 applicants from meteorology programs across the nation applying for twelve positions, six with Plymouth and six with HWS. In early June, some of the other research students and I traveled to Geneva, NY, where HWS is located, to present our first week of research and launch a weather balloon from the school’s research boat. In mid-July, the HWS group visited Plymouth, and we took a trip to the summit of Mt. Washington to learn about the “home of the world’s worst weather” and the forecasting/observation techniques used there. Plymouth also hosted its fifth annual Student Summer Research Symposium, where PSU, HWS, and students from Northern Vermont University–Lyndon gave preliminary presentations on their summer projects.
Although I am not a part of the REU, I am working with a couple of my professors and a graduate student on research involving power outages in New Hampshire. Eversource Energy serves both Connecticut and New Hampshire and allowed us to continue research that students from University of Connecticut began. Our goal is to create an Outage Prediction Model (OPM) for New Hampshire with a focus on winter events. This requires going into databases of past weather observations and finding a way to extract the needed information. In my case, this involved taking hourly observations from airports across the state and calculating different variables involving wind speed and precipitation, as those are the two most likely causes of power outages in the New Hampshire winter. From there we can identify trends as to which weather variables are likely to produce power outages and create a forecasting model that will determine the number of outages based off of those trends.
This summer research experience has been impactful in a multitude of ways. The project I am working on is my first research experience and is an amazing opportunity that will help me explore my future options. This specific project has taught me how to deal with large amounts of data and how I can use different resources and programs to maximize the efficiency of my research. Working with the REU group has been beneficial in terms of oral communication practice. Being able to present my research in a smaller group setting will go a long way toward preparing for future presentations in front of larger audiences. This summer furthered my meteorological career, and I am extremely grateful for it.