Expectations before going
Having met colleagues while on a MIT-Germany Seed Fund grant over IAP with Professor Dan Cziczo, I had well grounded expectations about my summer experience. I was expecting to work primarily on my own analyzing some data, periodically checking in with my PI to receive feedback and directions for further research. Having been to Zurich before helped me understand the culture and what I should prepare myself for in terms of living conditions. My expectations about my project were well aligned with what I experienced in the work place.
About my host: Institute for Atmosphere and Climate Science
The research of the Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science involves the study of weather phenomena, atmospheric composition and the climate system (including links to the cryosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere). The research is conducted by the research groups through field studies, laboratory experiments, and numerical models and is geared to bring about a better understanding and to improve predictive capabilities. The Lohmann research group focuses on interactions of tropospheric aerosols with water, ice and mixed-phase clouds. In order to understand which aerosol particles act as cloud condensation and Ice nuclei, laboratory studies of aerosol properties and ice nucleation are carried out. They are augmented by field programs, which emphasize aerosol-cloud interactions. The modeling aspects include the advancement of theories and parameterizations of clouds and aerosols in physical models of different complexity and different scales and their validation with in-situ and remote sensing data. Another focus is on the interaction between climate and the cryosphere with emphasis on the numerical modeling of glaciers in a changing climate.
You always hear that MIT doesn’t try to make you an expert in a field, but tries to teach you how to solve problems. And to some extent, because of that, I’ve expected that coming out on the other side of MIT I’d be good at solving problems. Before my experience, I was confident in my ability to sit down in front of any p-set problem in my field, with a computer and access to a library, and be able to solve it. However in research you don’t get a well constrained p-set problem and often you don’t even really know the question you’re trying to find an answer to - or your answer is just a better defined question about your problem. This summer, I learned exactly how MIT actually prepared me for this.
Impact of project: an academic publication!
From my collaboration with ETH, I am listed as the third author on a paper:
Peak fitting and integration uncertainties for the Aerodyne Aerosol Mass Spectrometer
J. C. Corbin, A. Othman, J. D. Haskins, J. D. Allan, B. Sierau, D. R. Worsnop, U. Lohmann, and A. A. Mensah
Career as a global scientist
I’m extremely grateful for the support to MISTI for having learned so much from my experience: both in the lab and out. I expect to continue cooperation on research with my colleagues at ETH, and look forward to seeing the results of our collaboration contribute to our understanding of the climate system. MISTI helped me establish important professional contacts and develop my research skills, but also exposed me to a wonderful new culture. I expect the confidence I gained in my ability to contribute to real research to follow me into my career as a scientist.