Graduate student Sophia Sagrestano’s interest in meteorology and atmospheric science got its start in her childhood home in the suburbs of Utica, New York. There she’d watch the local meteorologist each morning before school, fascinated by what would happen that day.
When Hurricane Irene struck the east coast of the United States in 2011, Sophia tracked the hurricane’s progress as she and her family drove down to Florida from New York, attempting to miss it by driving further inland.
Hooked by her interest in the hurricane, Sophia went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in meteorology from Valparaiso University.
Now she’s a second-year master’s student in the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s Department of Atmospheric Science, conducting research under the direction of Dr. David Kristovich at the Illinois State Water Survey.
Sophia recently answered a few questions about herself and her work.
Tell us a little about your graduate research.
I'm looking at LIDAR data analyzing the top of the cloud deck to gain a better understanding of the planetary boundary layer during lake effect snow events. I'm using data from the Ontario Winter Lake-effect Systems (OWLeS) field campaign, conducted from December 2013 to January 2014 in Upstate New York and Canada in order to do this.
What are you currently excited about in your job?
I'm excited to see what the research I'm doing tells me about the boundary layer and how it impacts lake effect snow formation over Lake Ontario, the lake with some of the hardest hitting lake effect events in the country. I find it funny that I went to Illinois to do research on my home state.
What’s a work-related accomplishment that you’re really proud of?
I'm proud that I managed to gain a better understanding of Python functions and syntax while working on this project. I feel that I'll be able to translate this skill to other activities in the future.
What personality trait do you attribute your success to, and why?
I'm conscientious about my work. I'm given a task and I do it within the given time frame. I'm the planner type. I want to know what I'm doing on what day and when. It helps keep me organized and allows for me to produce the best work possible.