Meteorology made fun

By Courtney Cavanaugh

While many students were spending their summer lounging by a TV or pool, Kathryn Carroll was chasing storms across Oklahoma.

Carroll, a senior meteorology major, was one of a handful of students picked nationwide to participate in IHOP – the International H2O Project.

The program offered students a chance to work with government and university weather researchers.

“There were 92 applicants and only 10 were selected,” Carroll said.

Participants focused on the pre-storm environment and conducted research on severe weather and climatology, which included a tornado sighting. They worked with leading scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Oklahoma.

“It’s probably one of the best things that’s happened to me,” Carroll said. “It has made me proud of myself and my family is proud of me.”

The project was very demanding, however.

“It’s like, all of a sudden you have to do all this research and whip out a 15-page paper,” she said.

The goal of Carroll’s paper was to determine if there was a connection between population density and warning verification within National Severe Storms Laboratory offices.

“If there was a connection, we were going to suggest certain offices had handicaps,” she said.

Carroll said she gained important skills.

“It was pretty much gathering my own data,” she said. “It was kind of like a real-life job.”

Out of the participants, Carroll had her own office and was the only one selected to work in the Warning Decision Training branch.

Carroll also said that aside from being able to visit her boyfriend, she formed important relationships while in Oklahoma.

“It’s nice to meet people across America,” she said.

Carroll’s goal for the trip was to develop a focus in meteorology, but the experience confused her more.

“I really was hoping it would help me,” she said. “But, all it did was offer me more options.”

She did say that the experience made her decide that the University of Oklahoma is her first choice for graduate school.

Meteorology professor David Changnon said Carroll is an excellent student.

“She is top-notch in getting work done and goals met,” he said.

He added that a career in meteorology requires hard work and talent.

“In meteorology, you have to have great quantitative skills,” Changnon said.

Senior meteorology major Cori Wilson said Carroll is one of the smartest in their class and that she’s very willing to help anyone who needs it.

In her spare time, Carroll tutors NIU students in math, meteorology and statistics classes.

She also was recently elected as secretary for the American Meteorological Society.

“I can’t think of anything she’s been bad at that we’ve done,” Wilson said.

Another meteorology senior, Marty Eisses, said Carroll is a great person to be around.

“She’s very outgoing, very bright,” he said. “She’s got a great future ahead of her.”

Overall, Carroll’s experience was very rewarding, and it made her even more excited about weather.

“It feels more enticing to me,” she said. “It’s like, I want more!”