Kathryn Sellwood went to UM for undergraduate and graduate school, obtaining an MS in meteorology and physical oceanography. She started working at CIMAS about 10 years ago right after she graduated from UM. Kathryn was hired as a dropsonde archivist to maintain a website containing the data for dropsondes all around the world. Her job is to collect, organize, and quality control the dropsonde data. She also works onboard the hurricane hunter aircraft to quality control the dropsonde data collected in real-time. Although only one geographic location is given in the dropsonde data, the winds are moving the dropsonde along so that the data is not collected in a straight column. Kathryn accounts for this discrepancy by using the dropsonde’s measured wind to compute locations based on the expected change in position. This and other data can be combined with model fields to produce more realistic estimates of atmospheric conditions. Her research contributes to society by helping computer models use the dropsonde data more efficiently.
Since a young age, Kathryn has always been passionate about math and science. When trying to figure out her future career path, Kathryn recalls a newspaper article suggesting that “meteorologists are good at math and science and a little bit crazy.” And to Kathryn – that sounded like the job for her. Kathryn is involved in several forums for local outreach. She has participated in weather-related educational events at the Fort Lauderdale Science Museum, the South Florida Fair, National Hurricane Center, and recently presented a talk at the local chapter of the Explorer’s Club. She is also involved in the NOAA Hurricane Awareness Aircraft Tour, which is an annual tour of the hurricane hunter aircraft open to the public.