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  • Where Are They Now? Daniel Harnos

    Where can a graduate degree from the University of Illinois take you? In this series, we catch up with one recent Graduate College alum and ask the question: “Where are they now?”.

    A close call with a tropical cyclone as a child caused Daniel Harnos to become fascinated with the weather. This led him to earn degrees in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of Illinois in 2010 (MS) and 2014 (PhD). Now, he works as Meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s Climate Prediction Center where he helps others prepare for weather and climate changes by delivering real-time meteorological information and forecasts.

    Your research focuses on tropical cyclones, which was also the subject of your dissertation. How did you become interested in this topic? Has it always been your goal to work at a research center like NOAA?

    I became interested in tropical cyclones because I was born shortly before Hurricane Gloria passed near my home in New Jersey, and my parents frequently recounted facing this event with a newborn. They managed to make it out OK other than a few trees down in their yard, but the event clearly stuck with them and helped drive my interest in tropical cyclones.

    I was not always interested specifically in working at a government organization such as NOAA but did always have a desire for a career where I would be doing something tangible in terms of serving the public, which NOAA certainly does. The primary goal of our climate outlooks are meant to help protect life and property.

    At NOAA, you work in the Climate Prediction Center (CPC). What are some of your primary responsibilities in this position? What does a normal day or week look like for you?

    My current job responsibilities are a mix of forecasting, performing research, and developing or supporting existing operational products. I use my tropical cyclone background in forecasting for CPC's Global Tropical Hazards and U.S. Hazards Outlooks, while I have also picked up forecasting temperature and precipitation for 3 - 4 weeks in the future for the U.S. My initial research at CPC was focused on seasonal prediction of tropical cyclone activity but has shifted toward improving prediction of temperature and precipitation in the U.S. from 2 - 4 weeks in the future.

    Meteorology is a very young science relative to others such as chemistry or physics, resulting in numerous “big picture” outstanding research problems for the field, such as predicting for these longer time-frames. Most weeks are a mix of these duties, but I also run our social media pages, so I have to stay aware of our forecasts on a daily basis and pay attention to any significant climate variability that may be of interest.

    What do you think are the most interesting, rewarding, and/or surprising aspects of your job?

    The most rewarding aspect of my job is knowing that somewhere someone could be using the climate outlooks that I am developing to make decisions to protect themselves or their property. The fact that someone may be taking action based upon my forecast makes me want to put my all into it. Similarly, it helps motivate me to develop better forecast guidance to improve the predictions from all of our meteorologists on staff.

    While at the University of Illinois, you had a number of roles in both teaching and research and landed a fellowship from NASA. How did your experiences at the university prepare you for your current position? Are there any skills that you have found particularly transferrable between graduate school/academia and your current position?

    My time at the University of Illinois helped me develop a number of skills that I was able to transfer into my career, such as: communication, statistical analysis, and computer programming. While I do not work in the same niche field of meteorology as I did during my graduate school days, these skills have translated across interests and been critical to my career. Since I also am working in a different aspect of meteorology now, I have been able to introduce some new ideas and methods into it from my graduate school days to help tackle problems in ways that climate scientists may not have been aware of.

    Is there a particular course, professor, or experience at the University of Illinois that has impacted your way of thinking?

    The two courses that helped me the most at Illinois were “Applied Meteorology” with Bob Rauber and “Risk Analysis” with Ryan Sriver. Each course got me thinking outside of the direct theory regarding the atmosphere, and into how to actively apply meteorological information to real-world problems. Most courses I took taught pure research and theory, which are important, but these fail to produce societal benefits until they can be communicated and applied to the greater public.

    What is one piece of advice you would give to graduate students at Illinois?

    Focus not directly on the content you are studying, but on the skills you are building while doing that study. You are not likely to work on the same exact subject matter again, but those skills will be with you and transferable into many other realms that could aid you throughout your career.


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    This interview was conducted by Emily Wuchner who is the Thesis Coordinator at the Graduate College. She holds a PhD in musicology from the University of Illinois, and her work focuses on music and social welfare in eighteenth-century Austria. In her free time, she enjoys playing the bassoon, watching sports, and hanging out with her calico cat, Gracie Sue.

  • Meet Our Fellows: Busra Karagobek, Visiting Fulbright Fellow from Ankara, Turkey

    In this special "Meet Our Fellows" post, SAGE member Meera Zukosky interviews Busra Karagobek, a PhD student from Turkey, who is currently studying at the University of Illinois under a Fulbright Scholarship. Let's meet Busra!

    Why did you decide to come to Illinois on a Fulbright Scholarship?

    I knew that Illinois is one of the best universities not only in the States but also around the world. The psychology department here had a lot of opportunities regarding research. Besides, I also like the diversity-supporting climate here. As far as I know, Illinois is home to over ten thousand international students, which makes it the best option for international students.

    Why did you decide to pursue a Fulbright Scholarship in particular?

    There are several scholarship options for students who want to study outside their country; yet, I believe the Fulbright Scholarship is most prestigious. They value not only academic success but also the cultural exchange between students. I am delighted that while I am still getting to know American culture, I also find a chance to tell about my culture. Besides, I also have a chance to meet with other Fulbrighters from around the world.

    Can you tell us a little bit about your home country and university?  

    Busra’s University in Ankara, Turkey-- Middle East Technical University


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    I am a developmental psychology PhD student from Turkey. Turkey is a country situated as a bridge between Europe and Asia which has a deep-rooted culture with its world-famous foods and hospitality of people. My university, Middle East Technical University, is a well-known university situated in Ankara, the capital city of Turkey. Although it is named as a technical university, it has the best social sciences departments, including its psychology department.

    What has your experience been so far at Illinois?

    I have been here for three months, and I enjoy being here. It's a university town full of international students. I am keen on Asian foods, and luckily, there are lots of Asian restaurants around here. The Professors and the staff at Illinois have been very helpful from the beginning, which made my acclimation very smooth.

    Can you tell us a little bit about your research area and what types of projects you work on?

    My research investigates how mothers' sensitivity (their correctness and promptness toward their children's needs and signals) affects children's development. At Illinois, I work with professor Dr. Eva Pomerantz, and our work focuses on how mothers’ behaviors affect children's stress levels during math-related tasks. Multidisciplinary works have gained more importance in psychological science, and with more advanced techniques we can detect psychobiological factors related to our work. In our research, for example, we measured children's stress hormone - cortisol - via their saliva samples.

    What do you hope to do after your experience here?

    After my research here is done, I have to go back to Turkey to complete my doctoral dissertation. But after that, I would like to come back to the States for postdoctoral research.

    Main blog post image courtesy of Busra. Caption: "In a previous research project, Busra made home visits in rural areas of Turkey. Here, she is pictured (right of center, in the white shirt) with families involved in her research"


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    This interview was conducted by Meera Zukosky, a fourth year graduate student pursuing a PhD in Psychology and a member of the 2018 - 2019 SAGE board. She is in the Attention and Perception Division with a research focus on mind wandering and how it relates to attention. Meera completed her undergraduate studies at Illinois, and then worked as an AmeriCorps member in Arizona. When Meera isn’t in the lab, she loves going on outdoor adventures, traveling, and riding her bike. 

  • Feel Like You're Drowning? The Counseling Center Can Help

    I’ve tried to start this blog post a dozen times, but every time, I get bogged down in the introduction. The thing is, for a lot of reasons and for a lot of people, it can be hard to talk about mental health. And that’s a problem because mental health is vital to our overall health and well-being as graduate students and people. But not talking about mental health can be incredibly isolating. This is especially the case when you a graduate student experiencing severe anxiety, depression, or suicide ideation*. It’s easy to feel like you are alone and no one is going to be able to understand what you are going through or be able to help you through to the other side.

    Let me start by saying, unequivocally, you are not alone. I know this because I’ve been there. With a lot of support and encouragement in the last year, I found helpful, supportive faces at the Counseling Center and at McKinley Health Center. These are just two of the resources available to you as a graduate student at Illinois, and for a lot of students, they are a good first step in the path to addressing and managing mental health problems and coping with the stress of life.

    This blog post will explain the process of setting up a first appointment with the University Counseling Center and what to expect once you arrive there. An important note: If you are currently experiencing a health or safety emergency for which you need immediate medical or police attention, call 911. For mental health emergencies call the 24-hour Crisis Line at (217) 359-4141.

    About the Counseling Center

    The Counseling Center isn’t just for undergrads – all registered graduate students who have paid the mandatory health service fee can visit the Counseling Center free of charge.

    The Counseling Center provides services to help students address many academic, relational, social, and emotional concerns. Staff members are trained and prepared to help you through whatever issues you may need assistance with, whether it be mental health issues like depression and anxiety, or academic issues such as time management and studying skills, or adjustment issues such as transition to grad school, work-life balance, or homesickness. They are also an excellent referral tool for additional help outside the university if you need to see a specialist or require longer-term therapy.

    Making the Call

    All initial appointments at the Counseling Center are made same-day. Practically, this means that on the day that you want to see a counselor for the first time, you need to be up and ready to call right at 7:50 a.m., especially during typically high-stress times like midterms and finals. Appointments for the day will fill up early, so calling right at 7:50 a.m. gives you the best chance of securing an appointment that day.

    For a lot of people, calling the center on the phone can be a source of anxiety. Why can’t you just make an appointment online? The initial appointment reservation system is designed to help people at their moment of greatest need and to help reduce the number of cancellations and no-shows so that the Counseling Center can serve as many students as possible each day. Don’t worry—once you have your initial appointment with a counselor, you will be able to make future appointments directly with your counselor in person—no more having to get up early and call.

    Ready to take action? Call the Counseling Center at 217-333-3704 as close to 7:50 a.m. as possible on any weekday.

    Getting Ready for Your Appointment

    You don’t need to do anything special to prepare for your counseling appointment. It’s normal to feel nervous but you don’t have to be—all that you need to do is bring yourself and your iCard with you to the appointment.

    Plan to arrive at the Turner Student Services Building about 30 minutes before your appointment if possible. The check-in desk for the Counseling Center is on the second floor of the building, which is accessible by stairs or elevator.

    Once you arrive at the Counseling Center, you’ll be checked in by a receptionist and given an iPad and some paper forms to complete in the waiting area. After you complete the forms, you’ll return them to the check-in desk and wait for your counselor to come find you in the waiting room.

    Your First Appointment

    If the thought of a counseling appointment fills you with images of Freudian therapy couches and dispassionate therapists, fear not! I’ve found that most of the pop-culture depictions of therapy appointments are pretty far from the mark and in my experience, counseling appointments are a lot more like conversations in a comfortable setting than some sort of scary clinical interview.

    It’s important to remember that this is YOUR counseling appointment. No one else knows your experience in life better than you do and no one else has lived the life you have. This means that your reasons for visiting the Counseling Center and the things you need to get out of the appointment will be unique to you. Your therapist is there to help you accomplish your goals.

    Initial appointments at the Counseling Center are 90 minutes long and are an opportunity to talk confidentially with a counselor about your immediate concerns. Your counselor will talk with you about some of the reasons you scheduled the appointment and will work with you to evaluate what services and campus resources will be most helpful for you. Some students find that this initial appointment is sufficient to resolve the immediate concern, while others require ongoing support.

    What Comes Next

    What comes next is completely unique to you and your needs. You will work with your counselor to determine the best next step for you. If you and your counselor feel that you would benefit from more counseling sessions and you’d like to continue to see the same counselor, you can make an appointment in person at the end of your first session.

    In addition to scheduling a follow-up appointment, my counselor was also able to connect me with McKinley Health Center to schedule an appointment with a psychiatrist before I’d even left her office. This saved me time and anxiety and meant that everyone involved in my mental health care was on the same page to give me the best treatment possible.

    Another great option my counselor suggested to me was to join one of the group therapy options run by the Counseling Center. You can talk to your counselor about those options and learn more about them online.

    I hope that this post has helped to demystify the process of making and keeping your first appointment with the university Counseling Center. If you have any questions about the process or would like to learn more, check out the Counseling Center website.

    *Ph.D. candidates suffer from anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation at astonishingly high rates.



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    Caitlin Brooks is a PhD student in Recreation, Sport, and Tourism. Her research focuses on the creation of communities of meaning in liminal leisure spaces and her dissertation explores marriage practices at Burning Man. In her free time, you can find her traveling, cooking, and exploring with her handsome pug, Torbin.