Meteorology major wins regional research award

Astrid Suarez Gonzalez, a junior Meteorology major in WKU’s Department of Geography and Geology, was honored last weekend by the Kentucky-West Virginia Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation.

Gonzalez, originally from Louisville, was recognized for her oral and poster presentations at the group’s 2009 Student Research Symposium at Stonewall Jackson State Resort in Roanoke, W.Va.

The Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, funded by the National Science Foundation, is aimed at increasing the quality and quantity of students successfully completing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs.

The Kentucky-West Virginia LSAMP includes WKU and nine other colleges and universities. Students from the schools presented their research reports during the annual conference April 24-25.

Gonzalez’s poster was titled Soil Moisture Analysis for the 2007 Drought in the Southeastern Region of the United States. The poster also won first place this spring in the undergraduate poster competition for the Physical Sciences at the 39th annual WKU Student Research Conference.

Her oral presentation was titled Applications of Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (RAMS) to Assess Sensitivity of Planetary Boundary Layer to Varying Volumetric Soil Moisture.

Her faculty advisor is Dr. Rezaul Mahmood, associate professor of Geography and associate director of the Kentucky Mesonet and Kentucky Climate Center.

Earlier this year, Gonzalez was awarded a summer 2009 research internship at the National Weather Center (NWC) in Norman, Okla. She was one of 10 students chosen from a pool of nearly 80 for the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded summer research experience for undergraduates (REU).

The high levels of achievement demonstrated by meteorology students such as Astrid, not only in research, publications and conference participation but also in their overall academic work, is a testament to the teaching and mentoring skills of the meteorology faculty,┬ánoted Geography and Geology Department Head David Keeling. With the first cohort of students scheduled for Spring 2010 graduation, WKU’s two-year-old professional meteorology program is setting the standard in the region for excellence in student engagement.

The press release can be found here.

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