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Recent Grad Wins Big with Honors Thesis

His thesis was “Improving Tornado Watch and Warning Lead Time: A Case Study of the 25 April 2014 Severe Weather Event in Eastern North Carolina.”

Tornadoes have been a force in Adam Weiner’s life for some time and the May graduate recently received three awards for his undergraduate honors thesis on the twisters.

His thesis “Improving Tornado Watch and Warning Lead Time: A Case Study of the 25 April 2014 Severe Weather Event in Eastern North Carolina,” won the A.G. Breidenstine Award administered by the Honors and Awards Committee through the Office of the Associate Provost. Additionally, Weiner was named a Phi Kappa Phi Fellow and received funding from the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi to support his continuing education in graduate school. He was also recently named a 2020 Portz Scholar by the National Collegiate Honors Council.

Adam Weiner won the A.G. Breidenstine Award and was named a Phi Kappa Phi Fellow and a 2020 Portz Scholar.

The topic of his thesis focused on investigating different methods to help extend tornado watch and warning lead time. The primary research of the study focused on a detailed case study of a supercell thunderstorm that produced two damaging tornadoes in April 2014.

“By following the storm using multiple radars and analyzing over 100 frames of radar data, I was able to identify several key changes in the character of the storm throughout its life,” says Weiner. “This detailed analysis of a Mid-Atlantic supercell added to the limited literature available on supercells in this region of the United States,” he explains.

Weiner analyzed over 100 frames of radar data, including all available elevation tilts from each radar for his thesis.

“I found myself excited as I progressed forward since every new frame presented new information and the potential for key findings,” explained Weiner. “Even though the research placed a remarkable demand on my time, which I had to balance with senior-level coursework and serving as president of the AMS Student Chapter, I feel much more prepared to conduct similar research as a graduate student.”

After an application process, the A.G. Breidenstine Award is given each year to the student whose work is judged as the “most outstanding.”

“The Bachelor of Science (degree) in meteorology I received at Millersville University prepared me well to write my award-winning honors thesis,” notes Weiner. “Although a portion of the research was conducted during an internship with the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Raleigh, North Carolina, the research performed during my senior year was heavily reliant on concepts and theories taught throughout the year as well as during the previous year. And, the professors who taught these key courses also served on my thesis committee, and subsequently provided expert guidance during the research process.”

The nomination and selection process for the Phi Kappa Phi award took place internally as the awards committee reviewed all the applicant’s work.

“As for the Phi Kappa Phi Graduate Fellowship, I would like to thank Dr. (Elizabeth) Thyrum and Dr. (Vilas) Prabhu for being instrumental in the resurrection of the Millersville University Chapter of Phi Kappa Phi. In terms of my education, while the coursework and research I completed were certainly very important and contributed to my successful application, I also think the extracurricular activities in which I engaged were crucial to my naming as a Phi Kappa Phi Fellow.”

Weiner is pursuing a Master of Science in Atmospheric Science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and performing research on tornadic thunderstorms in the Southeast of the United States.

“I can speak with certainty that hard work and dedication will pay off in the end. Even during challenging or uncertain times, remaining focused on your goals and persevering through the adversity will ultimately pay off, although the reward may not be immediately realized,” says Weiner.

“In particular, I would like to express sincere gratitude to my thesis advisor, Dr. Sepi Yalda, for her guidance, expertise and commitment to my research, even as the COVID-19 pandemic closed campus and created unforeseen challenges during the spring 2020 semester. Her dedication and mentorship, manifested in the countless hours spent meeting on a weekly basis, ensuring attainable goals were set throughout the process and reviewing all the components of my thesis to perfection, were instrumental in the successful completion of this research and contributed to its worthiness of multiple awards.”

“Furthermore, I would like to thank Dr. Todd Sikora for his expertise and insights on the topics of mesoscale meteorology and atmospheric fluid dynamics. In addition to those on my thesis committee, I would also like to thank Dr. Alex DeCaria, who served as my major advisor and Dr. Richard Clark, who introduced me to research as a sophomore. For all the professors in the meteorology program, I sincerely thank them for their rigorous coursework, guidance and letters of recommendation throughout my undergraduate career. They directly contributed to my achievements which have brought recognition to this university and its meteorology program several times throughout the last four years, including my latest achievements.”




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