Atmospheric science program recieves federal grant

Miles Jordan, [email protected]

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On Tuesday, Aug. 21, Louisiana congressman Ralph Abraham announced that the University of Louisiana at Monroe would receive a nearly $275,000 federal grant.
The grant’s purpose is for the university to purchase new weather satellite equipment.
ULM was given this equipment after a long term grant process.
“The grant proposal was completed over 6-7 months during Summer 2017 and the Fall 2017 semester. It was officially submitted to NSF in February of this year,” said Dr. Todd Murphy an assistant professor and program coordinator of the department of atmospheric science at ULM.
The university submitted the grant to the Major Research Instrumentation program at the National Science Foundation.
According to Murphy, the NSF received over 900 submissions.
Of the 900 submissions, 130 of the submissions were funded. That is only a 15 percent funding rate which is an astounding accomplishment for ULM.
The funding is to buy new weather satellite equipment, more specifically a portable Doppler wind lidar as well as computing infrastructure and a portable generator.
According to Murphy, the new equipment will be used for curricular and research reasons, “the mobile lab will be heavily integrated into the ATMS curriculum, including the development of at least one new course dedicated to its use. It will enable experiential learning opportunities for a variety of students. The mobile lab will allow us to participate in new research areas, and complement current research.”
A further benefit of the new equipment according to Murphy is that the university will have more opportunities to get funding.
“It should make us much more attractive for additional external funding opportunities. We also anticipate it will increase the visibility of our program. It will be used heavily in new student recruitment, and I anticipate that outside collaborators will want to utilize the lab in their own research,” Murphy said.
The recruitment for the atmospheric science major will nearly do itself, as the major will now be one of the best undergraduate programs for atmospheric science in the nation.
“There are only a handful of comparable mobile labs across the country, all of those residing in programs with a heavy graduate emphasis, there are very few programs like ours which allows undergraduates to gain experience using such a wide variety of meteorological instruments,” Murphy said.
The addition of the new equipment is already exciting current junior atmospheric science major Dakari Anderson.
“As a student, having the opportunity to use this data in our classes as an undergraduate is a unique and valuable experience. On top of the previously acquired radar, the addition of the new mobile lab will greatly improve the program,” Anderson said.
The purpose of all of the new equipment extends beyond just glitz and glamor and will have real research purposes.
Murphy said the equipment will be used to improve our understanding of a variety of atmospheric processes, including those that lead to the development of severe weather like tornadoes.
The main benefit of the equipment in a research capacity is that it lets the university move to the weather and not wait for the weather to move to it.