College of Atmospheric & Geographic Sciences
Our Mission Statement
"The Mission of the College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences is to provide a world-class academic experience that promotes inclusion, innovation and research, resulting in advanced education and successful careers in the private sector, academia, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations."
Degrees offered through the OU College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences address important issues for the planet's future, such as high-impact weather, renewable energy, and climate change. Alumni from the college work all across the country and the world. Graduates have continued their studies with advanced degrees and joined the world of education or found employment in the US military, FEMA, private weather firms, airlines, broadcast media, National Weather Service, renewable energy firms, information technology, forestry services, emergency management, and many, many more careers.
Celebrate Earth Day with DGES! We are launching an annual awareness and fundraising
day and we want you to be part of the festivities.
Help support the Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability through the greatest needs fund or be part of our campaign to honor Richard Nostrand. Thanks to an anonymous donor, we are excited to announce a matching challenge. For every dollar you donate to the greatest needs, they will match it, up to $2,000. That is double the impact!
Follow these links to donate now!
DGES Greatest Need
Richard L. Nostrand Scholarship
Faculty Spotlight - Dr. Cameron Homeyer
Dr. Cameron Homeyer drinks his tea from a Mike Wazowski mug (a popular character from the film Monsters, Inc.) underscoring his sense of humor and personable nature. After finishing his Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Cameron began searching for faculty positions. The University of Oklahoma (OU) caught his eye immediately. “OU was really high on my list... it made the most sense for me and my family because the reputation of this program, what it does, the quality that it strives for in both the education and research, and the support that the program has from the university at all levels in terms of enabling our success in meteorology. It is just unmatched in other places.”
In July of 2014, Cameron began his career at OU and as an Assistant Professor and the Associate Director of Graduate Programs in the School of Meteorology (SoM). He stressed the importance of funding when it comes to research projects. He launched his Convection, Chemistry, and Climate (CCC) Research Group using a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). CCC studies radar meteorology, the Upper Troposphere and Lower Stratosphere.
Dr. Homeyer recently received a new grant from NASA for his “Earth Ventures Suborbital 3” proposal. This project aims to increase the understanding of the summer stratosphere and the linkages between convection, large-scale dynamics, and atmospheric composition. This grant brings $843,000 to OU and his research group, allowing for advances in computational abilities and real-time radar products. Additionally, the grant will fund two students to assist with research and field work.
With the new capabilities of aircraft, satellite, and radar observations, Dr. Homeyer and his researchers have more information than ever before to analyze. While the goal of his research isn’t directly to improve early warning times, it could prove to be an outcome in the future. “…it’s possible that a forecaster could use that information to inform their decision-making, and potentially push the warning issuance up further in time and allow it to be valid for a longer time period; because they can have more confidence in making that decision at an earlier time.”
One of the most significant outcomes of this research thus far has been in severe hail events. Dr. Homeyer’s group focused on unique satellite features called “Above-anvil Cirrus Plumes,” which occur when strong thunderstorms inject ice into the stratosphere. “We found that if we only used that cloud-top signature from satellite to update existing weather service warnings to say that we expect to have two inch or greater diameter hail, we capture 99% of all events…”
Dr. Homeyer is a husband and father of three, with another on the way very soon, and he enjoys getting his kids excited about science in the same way that he does. “… if you introduce them to things they can see, or hear, or feel, then they’re more prone to be curious about that over time.” Every year he grows a garden and teaches his kids about the complexity of nature through flowers and leaves, and each time something happens with the weather, he takes them outside and explains what is going on. “The only reason I study the atmosphere is because I really want to understand how those things work... I want to figure out why, and how, and what. You have to be driven by that curiosity.”
Alumni Spotlight - Stacia Canaday
Can one class change your life? That’s exactly what happened for DGES alumna Stacia Canaday.
Starting out as a geology major, Canaday stepped out of her comfort zone and took a leap of faith. A leap of faith that paid off and led to a nearly 20-yearlong romance with GIS.
Enlivened by the resources offered at the University of Oklahoma, Canaday loved the smaller college feel within the Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability. She felt connected to her roots. The balance brought by such resources opened the door to new relationships and opportunities, like national conferences and working in the Dean’s Office. These experiences opened Canaday’s eyes to what universities and their alumni can offer students.
The summer before her senior year, she began working in an undergraduate research program utilizing GIS and Mesonet data through the National Science Foundation. Her plans to become an analyst or technician post-graduation were now in question. One of her professors encouraged Canaday to look into the business side of GIS. In 2001 she graduated to begin a career at a survey and consulting company. She learned about business and developing relationships, but more importantly, she became connected to ESRI, Canaday’s current employer.
ESRI is the developer of ArcGIS, one of the world’s most powerful mapping and spatial analysis softwares. The mission of ESRI is to solve problems.
“The axiom that everything is somewhere holds true,” Canaday said about her work. “Whether you run a business, manage a city, or make a difference in the world, why not use maps and location to communicate and make better decisions.”
Canaday’s journey with ESRI began as an instructor. She turned her opportunities into growth to become a sales manager on the Utilities Team. She leads and inspires a team of seven account managers who complete projects for companies ranging from electricity to telecommunications.
Canaday loves how much her current job may change from day to day. She enjoys learning new things and she rarely goes a day without learning something new.
“One day I’ll be working with an electric utility - experimenting with infrared sensors on drones to detect busted solar panels based on their IR signatures - and then next I’ll be talking to a group of people at a cable company working to figure out the best areas to offer low-cost or free internet service to underserved populations,” she said.
Learning new things day-to-day means dealing with all sorts of new and upcoming technologies. Canaday has seen her fair share of technological improvements over the past 18 years in the GIS industry.
“I am fascinated by the democratization of GIS and how accessible GIS has become,” Canaday said. “Sure, we still need GIS professionals, but the way technology has enabled more people in an organization or community to use GIS has actually freed up the GIS pros to be more creative and tackle even bigger challenges.”
Canaday wants students and alumni to know the many great opportunities ESRI has to offer. ESRI is a great place to create a career and grow. She encourages those in GIS to pursue their passion while staying up-to-date on the latest trends and technology at ESRI.
“Whether you are just starting out or in the middle of your career, ESRI is at the forefront of GIS science and we need more people from OU driving the industry forward,” Canaday said. “Don’t be intimidated… If I can do it, anyone can!”
A&GS Friends Society
To support the amazing activities happening within the College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences, the College and its Board of Visitors is proud to establish the Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences Friends Society. Funds raised from memberships will be used to support the educational learning experience for the college’s students, faculty, and staff.
Benefits of membership include an annual membership party, AGU and AMS reception tickets, as well as special access to College events. We encourage you to make a financial contribution to support these worthy efforts and to get involved with our friends!
$100 Annual Member (annual membership fee)
$500 Supporting Member (annual membership fee)
$1,000 per year Sustaining Member (5 year commitment)
$2,000 per year Founding Member (5 year commitment)
Click here to join!
Thank you to the following Founding Members who helped start this great group:
Edwin Adlerman, Fred Carr, James Davis, Claude Duchon, Mike Eilts, Joe Friday, Jeff Kimpel, Mohan Ramamurthy, Vicki & Lynn Rose, John Snow, and Chuck Thompson
Faculty Highlight: Dr. Laurel Smith
In June of 2017 Dr. Laurel Smith and her family relocated to Puebla, Mexico, where she co-led a three-week summer program, “Indigenous Music and Media,” with a colleague from OU’s School of Music, Dr. Jennifer Slater. Students also traveled to the Sierra Norte mountain community of Cuetzalan, where they visited the Indigenous cooperative Tosepan, which pursues organic and fair trade coffee production, operates a community radio station, and fights for environmental justice.
After the three-week “Indigenous Music and Media” program, Smith returned to the city of Puebla in early August, when she assumed the position of faculty in residence at OU’s Puebla Study Center for the 2017-2018 academic year. During this time, she taught OU students in three classes: “Regional Geographies of Indigenous Media,” “Indigenous Peoples and Resources,” and two rounds of “Environment and Society.” The OU in Puebla program is embedded in the campus UPAEP, a Mexican university where OU students took the rest of their courses. Students either lived with Mexican families or stayed in OU apartments with their peers.
In addition to teaching OU students, Smith had the opportunity to reanimate her research related to Indigenous media made in Oaxaca. She and a grad student interviewed a group of women who made a video in 2003 called Eso viene sucediendo/This has been happening about the violation of Indigenous women’s reproductive rights by medical professionals. Doctors “bullied women into having IUDs inserted without consultation, education or even consent” said Smith. Because the women’s testimonies were recorded on VHS tape more than 15 years earlier, Smith reached out to Witness (an NGO based in NYC) that had supported the video’s production. “I asked them would they please, please, please make that video available online,”. Fortunately they did, and the creators were excited to once again utilize the video because reproductive rights violations in the region continue to this day despite efforts to draw attention to the problem.
In June of 2018, Smith co-led the “Journey to Latin America” education abroad program with OU political science professor, Dr. Charles Kenney. This program consisted of Smith’s class “Indigenous Peoples of Contemporary Peru” and Kenney’s class, “The History and Politics of Peru.” The students stayed with families in various places including “swanky” areas as well as marginalized area that was a shanty town 20-30 years ago.
Smith is honored to return to the position of graduate liaison in the department of geography and environmental sustainability. Smith is now looking to create a service learning course in Puebla that would allow OU students with website creation and entrepreneurial skills to help women promote their enterprise, and in the process, further empower themselves, their families and their community.
Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier BS Meteorology 1980
Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on January 2 to serve as President Donald Trump’s science advisor. The meteorologist and former University of Oklahoma vice president for research was nominated by the President to head the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). This position helps create policy for science, but also provides science to help create policy.
Droegemeier said of his role, “"Science for policy is where the job of this office is to make sure we bring the best possible science to the table when there is any kind of policy decision to be made," he said. "Whether the policy deals with a potential disease outbreak, water contamination, the creation of new industries, removing regulatory barriers — science usually has something to say about that. We make sure we bring the best science forward so that the president and members of the executive branch have what they need to make decisions."
This is not his first political appointment: He was appointed to the National Science Board, which governs the National Science Foundation, by George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and served in former Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin’s cabinet as the secretary of science and technology. He said he enjoys communicating scientific principles to non-scientists.
Droegemeier had the support of Oklahoma's senators throughout the confirmation process. Sen. James Lankford, an Oklahoma City Republican, said on twitter, "Dr. Droegemeier is a highly qualified scientist and researcher, and I am confident he will serve our nation well."
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, a Tulsa Republican, also congratulated Droegemeier on Twitter, calling him a good friend. Sen. Jim Inhofe, another Tulsa Republican, said the OU professor is the right person for the job.
"The president requires the most well-qualified advisers and Dr. Droegemeier provides the experience and ability necessary to get the job done right," Inhofe said in a statement.
An expert on extreme weather, Droegemeier earned a B.S. with Special Distinction in Meteorology in 1980 from the University of Oklahoma, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in atmospheric science in 1982 and 1985, respectively, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He joined the University of Oklahoma faculty in September, 1985 and in 1987 was named a Presidential Young Investigator by the National Science Foundation. He served as a faculty member until taking a leave of absence to serve in the White House. He will be the first meteorologist to serve as a president's science adviser; all others have been physicists.
NWC Research Exploration
Dr. Berrien Moore III, dean of the College of Atmospheric & Geographic Sciences and director of the National Weather Center, discusses how the NWC impacts research and student engagement at The University of Oklahoma.