Meteorology Major Interns with NASA
- Tuesday, October 1st, 2019
Dallas McKinney, a senior from Mayfield with a double major in Meteorology and Geographic Information Science (GIS), is involved in many activities and organizations at WKU, including the Ogden College Student Ambassadors, Meteorology Club, Honors College and the Student Government Association.
McKinney said that he chose WKU because of the programs offered and the university’s proximity to his hometown. According to McKinney, the best part of his WKU experience has been WKU’s non-abstract approach to learning.
“Studying at WKU has involved learning about physical processes and phenomena and then putting that knowledge into meaningful practice by creating products, such as research papers, posters, web pages, and maps just as I hope to do in my future career as a meteorologist,” said McKinney.
McKinney has also applied knowledge outside the classroom through four different internships, which include interning for NASA’s Student Airborne Research Program in southern California and studying lake effect snow through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations’ (NOAA) Senator Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship Program.
During his internship with NASA, McKinney conducted research in a flying laboratory. On the flights he collected greenhouse gas and meteorological data over central and southern California. He then spent time at the University of California, Irvine analyzing the data. He has continued analyzing data through his WKU honors thesis, which is focused on determining boundary layer behavior over mountainous terrain using aircraft vertical profiles.
The lake effect snow research involved creating maps that showed where lake effect snow was located based on prevailing wind direction, topography and climatology of previous snow reports. His research will assist meteorologists at the Cleveland, Ohio National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office in predicting lake effect snow more accurately.
McKinney said he hopes to continue his research on lake effect snow in graduate school. The research opportunities he has experienced while at WKU have allowed him to impact communities in a positive way, something he hopes to continue throughout his meteorology career.