NASA Speaker Series – Participant Reflections

The NASA MPOWIR Speaker Series offers the opportunity to two scientists to present their work at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and Goddard Space Flight Center (Goddard).  Overall, the goal is to familiarize junior women in the field of physical oceanography with the research conducted at the NASA labs and to inform NASA scientists of the research conducted by junior scientists in the community. Below are the reflections of the 2014 participants.

Kristen Thyng, Texas A&M

Goddard visit May 27-28, 2014

I had the opportunity to visit the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland last month (May) through NASA’s MPOWIR speaker series after Sarah Clem (MPOWIR) and Sirpa Hakkinen (NASA) arranged my visit. After a presentation on my research, I spent the rest of the two day visit meeting with scientists in the Cryosphere and Ocean Ecology groups. I was also shown around some of the labs used for processing the samples that are taken in during field experiments.

I talked about my research studying transport across the Texas-Louisiana shelf in the Gulf of Mexico using a numerical model and simulated Lagrangian drifters. An engaged group of scientists attended and asked questions.

Talking with scientists on the first day, I learned about polar research being done by the Cryosphere group, which gave me the chance to ask questions about an area of research that is fairly removed from my own. The next day, I spoke with Ocean Ecology researchers. There I learned more about remote sensing data that is available and how it is being actively used, along with even more data that is expected to be coming in in the future. I  enjoyed being able to ask questions about their research and search for overlapping areas of interest.

The visit was a unique opportunity and it was rewarding to meet scientists doing interesting research.

Martha Buckley, Atmospheric and Environmental Research

JPL visit September 25-26, 2014

NASA’s MPOWIR speaker series provided me with the opportunity to visit and give a seminar at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in September 2014. My host for the visit was Dr. Tony Lee, and he took every opportunity to make my visit a productive and enjoyable experience. Upon arriving at JPL, Tony met me and gave me a tour of JPL. Our tour started with a visit to the JPL museum, which provided me with a glimpse of the breadth of activities happening at JPL, both past, present, and future, and also gave me the opportunity to see models of many of the spacecraft used to collect oceanic data. Tony also gave me a history and update of important oceanographic data sets including altimetry, scatterometer winds, and sea-surface salinity.

I presented a talk on my research on the role of atmospheric forcing and ocean dynamics in setting low-frequency sea-surface temperature variability in the North Atlantic. I enjoyed speaking to the audience at JPL immensely, as the audience was engaged and asked numerous questions during and after my talk.   Despite it being time for lunch, numerous scientists took the time to chat with me after the seminar.

The rest of my visit consisted on one-on-one meetings with scientists at JPL, and I learned more about their research. Just to name a few interesting topics that I learned about: unique applications of adjoint modeling to understanding the role of various types of forcing in setting oceanic variability, using GRACE to estimate variability of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, and how satellites measure salinity. Visiting JPL in particular was very useful for me because JPL is a collaborator on the Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean (ECCO) project, with which I am involved, but I had not had the opportunity to visit JPL before this time.

I am grateful to both MPOWIR and JPL for giving me this unique opportunity to expand my professional network, learn about the work being done at JPL, and receive constructive feedback on my work.


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