Molly Woloszyn joined the Midwestern Regional Climate Center in July 2011; she also has a joint appointment with Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant. Her focus is on explaining climate and related issues to people throughout the Midwest and assisting local governments in adapting to weather extremes.
Q. What made you decide to go into your field?
A. I first became interested in the weather in middle school. My dad was a pilot, so he would always talk to me about the weather in order to calm my fears (I have never been a big fan of severe thunderstorms or tornadoes!). I kept the interest in weather throughout high school and decided to pursue meteorology in college (earning a B.S. in Meteorology from Northern Illinois University), which led me to graduate school in atmospheric sciences (M.S. in Atmospheric Science from Colorado State University). My favorite part was talking to people about the weather and climate, so that’s how I ended up in an outreach/extension position. It’s been a great fit!
Q. What is the best part of your job?
A. Variety. I find it fun that I have many different tasks and projects that I work on to communicate climate information and help people make climate-informed decisions. For example, I work one-on-one with local municipalities, organize workshops, give presentations, produce newsletters, communicate through social media (@ClimateMolly), and have helped develop a museum exhibit on climate change.
Q. What project are you most proud of?
A. I recently led a project where I developed a Flood Vulnerability Assessment for Critical Facilities with another Illinois State Water Survey scientist (Lisa Graff) and the Cook County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. I hope the new online assessment will be a great resource to help reduce the flooding risk for critical facilities across the state and region.
Q. Who has been a mentor to you in your science career?
A. My first mentor was Maria Peters at the Illinois State Water Survey. She was the service climatologist at the Midwestern Regional Climate Center for many years. When I was a high school student, she provided many opportunities for me to learn about the field and what options there may be for me in meteorology. I’ll always be grateful for her guidance, help, and friendship!
While I was an undergrad at Northern Illinois University Dr. David Changnon was my advisor and mentor there. The name may sound familiar—he’s the son of the Water Survey’s Stan Changnon!
Q. What advice would you give to other female scientists?
A. Be yourself and be confident.