University of Illinois

Weber works on climate modeling with NCAR scientists

Posted: Nov. 9, 2012

Doctoral student Nic Weber spent the past summer working at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) as part of their Advanced Studies Fellowships Program. The Advanced Studies Program (ASP) at NCAR allows graduate students and post-docs to work with NCAR scientists and use NCAR’s high performance computing facilities to pursue topics important to their future career. Typically, this funding is set aside for research in atmospheric science, and Weber is the first information science student to earn a spot in the program.

“I was very fortunate to have been nominated by Dr. Carole Palmer—and very lucky to have willing collaborators at NCAR,” said Weber. “I think NCAR and other national laboratories are beginning to recognize the importance of a socio-technical approach to their research and development efforts. Coming from an iSchool like GSLIS and a research center like CIRSS, where that mentality is pretty ingrained in our everyday work, the fit was ideal.”

Weber split his time at NCAR between studying how open-source climate models were developed among teams of software engineers and conducting an infometrics study of data re-use.

In the former, Weber examined how the collaborative work of climate modeling is coordinated and communicated across different intellectual cultures and geographic locations. “I’m fascinated by how people work together and use different technologies to produce a state of ‘knowing’ something—especially when that something happens to be about a really complex system, like the Earth’s climate,” he said. “So, spending time at a research center like NCAR, where much of the research is necessarily conducted in teams, was exceptionally valuable to my research.”

Weber is the recent recipient of two other prestigious awards. He received the 2012 Beta Phi Mu Harold Lancour award, which he will use to study climate modeling groups outside the USA. Earlier this year, he also received a student travel award from the Society of Scholarly Publishing (SSP), which supports travel to and attendance at the SSP Annual Meeting.

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