Julie and her older brother grew up in South Florida. She worked her way through high school and part of college as a cashier at Publix Super Markets. She earned her college degree in accounting from the University of Central Florida (UCF). During her college years, she started working for the accounting department at the UCF Foundation, and by her senior year, she had earned a prestigious internship with Coopers and Lybrand.
In her freshman year at UCF, she met her future husband, Paul Prestopnik. When Paul was accepted to CU’s graduate program, they both decided to make the move together to Longmont, where Julie took a job as the Assistant Vice President of FirstBank of Longmont. The long hours and organizational frustrations of working at a bank soon set in. But, as is often the case, what seems like trouble at first can also turn into possibility.
Studying computer science became an attractive career choice, but it was a big risk to completely restart her career. Before doing anything drastic, Paul gave her some "homework assignments" to try out her aptitude for computer science. She enjoyed the challenge, and seeing how fulfilling Paul’s work was, she decided to make the change.
After getting married to Paul, in 2004, she took on a student assistant position at NCAR’s Research Applications Laboratory (RAL) working on the Dynamic Integrated Forecast (DICast®) System. A year later with a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, she was hired as a Software Engineer I working in the Aviation Applications Program (AAP) on the InSitu Turbulence Project.
Since then, Julie has provided software engineering expertise and support to the Maintenance Decision Support System (MDSS) project, the Pikalert project, the Graphical Turbulence Guidance (GTG) project, and the Graphical Turbulence Guidance Nowcast (GTGN) project. She started working in the Joint Numerical Testbed program, a collaborative facility within RAL that is connected to an international network of collaborators, on the Model Evaluation Tools (MET) project in the fall of 2012 and has been working solely with the METplus for about two years.
Julie has led several RAL technology transfer efforts to external partners including the first successful transfer to NOAA's Weather and Climate Operational Supercomputing System (WCOSS) with the GTG code. Her software support of METplus with system installation, infrastructure, and maintenance, requires close collaboration with EMC at NOAA to install and maintain unofficial and official releases on various NCAR machines, NOAA machines, including WCOSS and WCOSS2, and community machines. She feels fortunate to work with all of the seven METplus components (METplus wrappers, MET, METviewer, METplotpy, METcalcpy, METdatadb, and METexpress) as the documentation lead for the team.
Julie is deeply committed to RAL’s culture because she feels the organization has been such an excellent match for her work style and work/life balance. To reciprocate these cultural benefits, she recently joined the RAL Communications Committee, and is a member of the UFS Workflow team, and an NCAR level-recognition committee. She attends the Technology Affinity Group (TAG) meetings, Forging Allies and Connections for Equity in STEM (FACES) Meet-Ups, the True Colors meetings, and the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Book Club meetings when she can to deepen her understanding of RAL’s diverse and inspiring staff.
Spending time with family (12-year-old daughter), walking, running, hiking, reading, listening to her daughter play music (piano and trumpet), traveling, volunteering, going to the theater, sleeping, watching movies, playing games all replenish her reserves. As if her job wasn’t enough of a commitment, she also gives back in her personal life. Julie serves on the Board of Directors for her daughter’s middle school and co-leads her daughter’s Girl Scout troop. She hopes the family can travel to Peru on a school trip, which would make three continents they’ve visited so far. Only four more to go!