21 April 2017 • ResearchSTEM Piersante '18 Pursues Atmospheric Research

Jeremiah Piersante ’18, a double major in Geoscience and Spanish & Hispanic studies, was recently selected to take part in the Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric (SOARS) program through the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Piersante will be based in Boulder, Colo., for the 10-week summer research internship and receive mentoring by top scientists in a supportive learning community.

“SOARS serves as a fantastic transition into graduate school,” says Piersante, who will study the hail patterns near the Andes Mountains of Argentina and may conduct fieldwork in the country during the SOARS program. “By participating in SOARS I hope to learn more about possible topics I can study in graduate school and the job opportunities that follow.”

At HWS, the classroom discussions and projects, along with extended research opportunities, helped clarify his interests and aspirations in the field of meteorology. “I quickly understood that forecasting severe weather events remains a challenge for meteorologists,” he says. “My passion is for contributing to the understanding of severe weather to ensure the safety of those threatened by powerful storms.”

In 2017, Piersante was also chosen as a Goldwater Scholar Honorable Mention based on academic merit. Named in honor of Senator Barry Goldwater, the competitive program selects applications from students at more than 2,000 colleges and universities across the U.S. who are studying the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering. Applicants for the awards must be nominated by their institutions and submit a research essay based on past research experience.  Piersante’s essay focused on summer research he conducted under the advisement of Assistant Professor of Geoscience Nick Metz.  This research identified a nine-year climatology of warm-season stationary fronts across the eastern two-thirds of the United States.  These stationary fronts move very little and can act as the focus for severe weather and flash flooding.  Piersante recently presented his results at the American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting in Seattle, Wash.

Following graduation, Piersante intends to pursue a Ph.D. with the goal of becoming a faculty member and researcher at a liberal arts college. “What I value about a small liberal arts institution is the ability to connect with professors,” he says. “At HWS I am able to have lengthy conversations with my professors about not just the subject matter but also potential research opportunities, graduate school and things that do not necessarily relate to academics.”

Metz, who also serves as Piersante’s academic adviser is confident that his student will excel in the coming years. “Jeremiah is a tremendous student who does well in class and has developed a real passion for research,” he says. “His honorable mention for the Goldwater Scholarship program and being accepted into the SOARS program indicate that his academic profile is competitive with the top tier of students from any institution across the country.”