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Phil Bergmaier, PhD Candidate in Atmospheric Science
M.S. in Atmospheric Sciences, University of Wyoming
B.S. in Meteorology, Millersville University, PA
My current research focuses on thin bands of lake effect snow that frequently form over Lake Ontario during the winter months. Lake effect snowstorms often occur over and downwind of all the Great Lakes between November and February, sometimes dropping many feet of snow in just a matter of days. Over an entire winter season, some places east of Lake Ontario see an average of more than 250 inches of snow, much of it from lake effect storms, while areas just 30 miles north or south typically receive only half as much, or less! I recently participated in large field research campaign called the Ontario Winter Lake-effect Systems (OWLeS) project, during which many researchers from across the country came together to collect data in and around these lake effect events. I am using some of that data collected by the University of Wyoming King Air research aircraft to look at lake effect snow bands in high detail and to hopefully develop a better understanding of the processes that control their formation, persistence, and structure.
I hail from the East Coast and completed my undergraduate work at Millersville University, a small school in south-central Pennsylvania. It may be somewhat expected and perhaps slightly clicheé, but I have always loved weather. When I was in high school, I decided that I wanted to go to college to become a meteorologist. The rest, you could say, is history. My specific interest in severe storms, and especially drylines, originates from watching tornado research documentaries as a young boy. In a way, this spurred my own desire to get into research as I thought that I might one day have the chance to be involved in one of these exciting projects. As it turns out, my research at the University of Wyoming may actually give me the opportunity to take part in some of these types of projects in the future. I hope to be able to continue working in research after I graduate and do my own part in helping to solve some of the difficult challenges we face as atmospheric scientists.
I came to Wyoming to attend graduate school and learn more about the types of weather that interest me. In the process, I have come to really enjoy this state and all of the things it has to offer. When I am not busy with my studies, I spend most of my free time outdoors refining my photography skills and particularly delight in the fantastic Wyoming sunsets. I also love hiking and skiing, two things I wish I had way more time to do. Being somewhat of a sports fanatic, I tend to obsessively follow my hometown teams from Philadelphia. Finally, I enjoy traveling and seeing new places and therefore cannot wait to take road trips far and wide across Wyoming to bring my passion for weather to the classroom!