Thursday, August 9, 2012

Summer Blog Series - Secretary: Bryce O'Neill

Hi, all.  First, some quick facts about me:
  • Senior in Atmospheric Science
  • From Plainfield, IN (by way of Las Vegas, NV,  by way of Alamogordo, NM)
  • Love to play sports, especially disc golf
Now for my summer.  I had a few weeks of R&R before I shipped off to Champaign, Illinois and the University of Illinois for an internship at the Midwestern Regional Climate Center.  I was very fortunate to receive this internship; I had applied to several but none of them gave me a paid offer.  This was the last one I heard from, and fortunately for me they offered me a position.  While here in Champaign (I am still here through the 17th), I have been exposed to the wide world of desk jobs.  I have held several jobs since I was 16, and none of them involved sitting on a computer.  I think the biggest adjustment was finding a way to stay active when my job is so sedentary.  There are some nice benefits of working on a computer, though (streaming Olympics coverage, anyone?).
My responsibilities here have been twofold.  I have spent much of my time working on two research projects.  One of those projects involves old weather records which date back to the 1830’s or further.  This project is possible thanks to the Climate Data Modernization Program (CDMP), an initiative from the NCDC wherein all written and microfilm weather records from the old days got converted into digital form.  This was a tedious and time consuming project, but now people like me can finally use and analyze that data.  I spent much of the first half of my time on this project learning Perl and trying to interpret and write programs in that language.  My other project is a study of recent heat waves in Chicago, and comparing them to those of 1995 and 1999.  I have submitted the abstract for this project to the AMS with hopes that I can present my work at the conference in Austin, TX this year. 
The other side of my job was working in the service office.  In the service office, I answered questions via phone call and email and filled data orders from companies and other agencies.  With the severe drought gripping this part of the country, we have been plenty busy answering questions, especially from media.  We have had calls from CNN, the New York Times, and even international news agencies from countries like Denmark and Korea.
I will miss Champaign once the summer comes to a close, but it will be good to be back at Purdue to wrap up my undergraduate career.  If you want to learn more about the MRCC, I encourage you to visit their website (Google it), like them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter!