holding a garnet gneiss in my undergraduate petrology lab

David Schultz


I was born in Pittsburgh, PA. I grew up in what was then rural southwestern Pennsylvania, playing in the streams, climbing trees, and bicycling the streets. It was these experiences observing nature and being curious about the way nature worked that probably was responsible for turning me toward science. I attained the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts and also played soccer, and ran track and cross-country. I graduated from high school in 1983. [Since graduating and moving away, my hometown was replaced by a town that is now much closer to suburban generica (sigh).]

In the fall of 1983, I started college at MIT. I lived with a great group of guys in a beautiful house at 32 Hereford Street in Back Bay Boston known as Chi Phi. I continued to run indoor/outdoor track and cross country, achieving letters in all three sports. My senior year I was very much honored to receive The Most Improved Runner award in cross country. I graduated in 1987 with a degree in Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, specializing in geology.

I then started my career in meteorology at the University of Washington in Seattle. After completing my Master's degree, I moved to Albany, New York and started my doctoral studies at the Department of Atmospheric Science at SUNY Albany.

After 13 years of undergraduate and graduate studies at three different schools, it was finally time to join the real world! I moved to Norman, Oklahoma and accepted a position at the National Severe Storms Laboratory. My interests still include competitive running. (Oklahoma Runner) I am president of the Norman Running Club. Other sports that I participate in include flat-water sprint kayak racing, sea-kayaking, mountain-biking, skiing, camping, hiking, and rock-climbing. I love to travel. I've driven across the U.S. three times from coast to coast, and twice I've covered half the U.S. I've been in all of the 48 contiguous states (just visited Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama for the first time in May 1999!).


I am a research meteorologist, specializing in synoptic and mesoscale weather systems. I study the structure and evolution of low pressure systems and fronts, with a particular emphasis on winter weather of the Western United States. Much of the research I do contributes to improvements in understanding and forecasting weather systems. By understanding past weather events, we pave the way to prevent future weather forecast failures.

A typical day at work finds me in front of a computer: performing calculations, plotting diagnostics, viewing satellite imagery of the storms I study. Most of it is not very sexy, but I find great enjoyment in picking apart a particular weather event, trying to understand how the atmosphere made all the ingredients come together to make a big snow dump. Every once in a while, a particular moment may occur when I am able to demonstrate how I think the atmosphere works, using my creativity and hard work. Those days are priceless!

At other times, I am traveling around the country, presenting my research at seminars and conferences, meeting other scientists and students, talking with them about their research, and discussing collaborative research projects. That is another thing that I really enjoy about my job. Sometimes I even have the pleasure to be out in the field taking direct observations of the weather during field-research programs, like the Intermountain Precipitation Experiment (IPEX).

Another pleasure of my job is interacting with students through seminars that I give at different universities, or the students that I advise on their undergraduate or graduate research projects. In my career I have benefitted from teachers and colleagues who have given me wonderful advice about being a research scientist and I thank all those people. Interacting with younger scientists is my way to give back to those who come after me.

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David Schultz

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