PROUD Award - Excellence in Action

Michelle Harrold, Associate Scientist IV, NSF NCAR RAL & DTC

May 22, 2024

Michelle Harrold is an Associate Scientist IV with the NSF NCAR Research Applications Laboratory where she is a lead for the Rapid Refresh Forecast System (RRFS) Agile Framework and Air Force project teams and contributes to the Ensemble project and others outside the DTC.

Michelle has provided critical leadership, subject-matter expertise, and task contributions related to verification and numerous other DTC tasks during the current and past AOP. Her extensive knowledge of observation and model data processing, general verification techniques and metrics, as they relate to meteorological phenomena, METplus, and METviewer, have been critical to the success of all her projects, and have elevated the impacts of findings for project stakeholders.

Michelle has excelled in her leadership of the RRFS Agile Framework task and is constantly willing to help others learn, providing assistance and opportunities for staff to gain new skills and become engaged with the work. She also regularly volunteers to contribute to task work during team meetings, which is a major reason why the deliverables are always completed successfully.

Aside from an amazing work ethic, Michelle also easily connects with other team members and ensures communication between individual staff members and across nodes is optimal. Her critical thinking and general expertise are often why we can resolve unexpected roadblocks during the AOP, but more importantly, it also helps shape the science we do, how we evaluate results, and the positive impacts we deliver to stakeholders.

Michelle is a versatile member of the DTC who produces timely and quality work, all while excelling in her leadership duties and mentoring other staff. We are very fortunate to have her in the DTC!

Michelle Harrold


February 27, 2024

Howard Soh is a Software Engineer III with the NSF NCAR Research Applications Laboratory who contributes to the development and support of the Model Evaluation Tools (MET) statistical component of the METplus system at the DTC.

Howard splits his time between the National Security Applications Program (NSAP) and the Joint Numerical Testbed (JNT), but his contributions to METplus far exceed expectations for that allocation. He is a fully engaged and active member of the METplus team and is a leader in several critical aspects of MET: SonarQube static code analysis, Python embedding, NetCDF APIs, point observation data ingest, and adding support for unstructured grids. Howard also monitors the METplus Discussions forum, where users submit questions for help, and provides his expertise when needed. He often answers the questions via email or Slack well before the person monitoring Discussions for that day has even read the question!

The DTC is proud to recognize Howard for consistently demonstrating excellent technical ability, initiative, communication, and leadership skills with all of his team members. He is not only a talented software engineer on the METplus team, but is also eager to lead new development tasks, takes a proactive approach in supporting customers, is friendly and approachable, and is always happy to help the team.

Thank you, Howard, for all the work you do for your DTC colleagues, partners, and customers!

Howard Soh, Software Engineer III

GRANT FIRL, Research Scientist II, CSU/CIRA at NOAA GSL & DTC

November 28, 2023

Grant Firl is a Research Scientist II (more specifically, an Atmospheric Physics Development and Implementation Research Scientist) with the CSU/CIRA at NOAA GSL, contributing to the Common Community Physics Package (CCPP) project at the DTC.

Grant was the foundational developer of the CCPP Single-Column Model (SCM). He wrote and documented the entire SCM from scratch, which required the scientific understanding of how an SCM works and the technical skill to code in both Fortran and Python. He then connected several datasets to the SCM, and made it work with the international SCM format (Development and Evaluation of Physics in atmospheric models, DEPHY, v0), opening the doors for CCPP SCM users to tap into a vast library of cases. Grant also conducted code management for the SCM, keeping it up to date with the CCPP Physics and Framework main branches. He also developed the initial implementation of the UFS Replay capability. The CCPP SCM is now widely used in the community, making it a foundational tool for physics development and a handy tool for teaching NWP.

While Grant often works independently, he is also known as a great team player and is always happy to help the DTC team and the wider community. He has a great work ethic and always steps forward to help. In addition to the CCPP SCM development and support, Grant works in other DTC tasks, all within the CCPP project. For example, he was the committee chair for the CCPP Visioning Workshop that took place in August 2023. In September 2023, Grant received the CSU/CIRA’s Exceptional Service Award in recognition of "his instrumental planning and execution of the recent three-day CCPP Visioning Workshop." Grant also co-manages the root CCPP Physics repository and the UFS fork of CCPP Physics. He is deeply knowledgeable about all things CCPP, including the Framework, and has contributed significantly to project plans, discussions with DTC and external colleagues, and provided a great deal of support to the community via tutorials, online materials, and Q&A.

Thank you, Grant, for all the work you do for DTC!

Grant Firl

Kate Fossell, Associate Scientist IV, NCAR/MMM and DTC

August 21, 2023

Kate Fossell is an Associate Scientist IV in MMM at NCAR, contributing to two DTC projects; the Unified Post Processor (UPP) and the Numerical Weather Prediction cloud container projects.

Kate has worked with the DTC for 10 years with much of her time dedicated to co-leading the UPP project and its growing team through its transition to the Earth Prediction Innovation Center (EPIC) in 2023. During this period, she built a strong collaborative relationship with the UPP team at the NOAA Environmental Modeling Center (EMC), establishing a solid code management plan to shepherd multiple community innovations into the software package and support EMC's recent refactoring project. She worked tirelessly to ensure that DTC's support of the UPP was valuable to the community and DTC partners. She has co-led the UPP task with great skill, ensuring the transition to EPIC transpired efficiently and seamlessly.

Kate also demonstrated her outstanding leadership skills when she volunteered to lead DTC's NWP container and cloud project to its completion, stepping in when the prior lead stepped down for other pursuits.

In addition to her excellent leadership style and mentorship, Kate brings strong technical skills to her DTC projects, pursuing in-depth knowledge of the underlying code and demonstrating a drive to expand her knowledge and skills. The icing on the cake is Kate's positive and friendly approach to her interactions with DTC staff and collaborators. She obviously cares about her team members by the way she advocates for them, providing them with growth opportunities to further their own technical and leadership skills.

Kate has exemplified the mission and values of the DTC on a daily basis. Aside from her contributions to DTC projects, she played an integral role in organizing the 2022 DTC retreat, providing a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere for all. Even with the sunsetting of the DTC’s support of UPP, Kate’s impact on the UPP and other projects will live on. Thank you Kate for all of your hard work and support over the past decade!

Kate Fossell

John Opatz, Associate Scientist III, RAL/NCAR

May 17, 2023

John Opatz is an Associate Scientist III in RAL at NCAR contributing his expertise to two DTC projects: the Enhanced Model Evaluation Tools (METplus) and METplus training.

John is highly skilled and the go-to scientist for reviewing Pull Requests across METplus repositories. He made 210 METplus GitHub contributions in 2022, defining new issues, committing code changes, updating documentation, and reviewing the work of others. John’s Pull Request reviews are detailed, thoughtful, and comprehensive. He often expands his testing beyond the narrow scope of the original issue to assess how the code would handle a variety of user inputs. He is agile in his ability to switch between roles and appreciates the perspectives of software developers, users, and scientists.

John coordinated the online tutorial updates for METplus v5.0 and led the formation of a METplus user advisory group in 2023. John played a significant role in developing valuable content for the METplus 2021 Training Series. He leads various METplus projects aimed at fostering engagement with NOAA/EMC, NOAA/CPC, and NCAR/MMM. He works closely with engineers to develop new METplus use cases to broaden their impact and application. John’s growth in responsibilities within a short span of time is commendable.

His leadership in the areas of customer engagement, community support, and use case development are commendable. He conducts himself in a respectful, professional manner. He actively listens to others and genuinely works to improve their understanding and use of the METplus products. 

John Opatz

Gerard Ketefian, Research Scientist III CU/CIRES and NOAA GSL

February 23 2023

Gerard Ketefian works for CU/CIRES at NOAA GSL and contributes to four DTC projects: Unified Forecast System (UFS) Short-Range Weather Application (SRW) software support & community engagement, DTC activities in support of community involvement with the UFS, Agile Rapid Refresh Forecast System (RRFS) prototype Testing and Evaluation (T&E), and Optimizing Ensemble Design for Use in the RRFS.

Gerard has taken the lead in the submission of a massive METplus-related contribution to the UFS SRW Application repository to revamp the verification piece in the SRW workflow. Gerard has taken initiative to learn the nuanced capabilities of METplus and how it aligns with the workflow. This demands the flexibility to wear both science and technology hats. These improvements, including the capability to time-lag ensembles, will not only benefit internal DTC teams, but will also benefit the community at large. While this work has been quite the endeavor, Gerard has accomplished this with an infectious positive attitude, and has gladly incorporated feedback from other team members.

As a versatile staff member, Gerard has continuously embraced new challenges and opportunities within the DTC. Any project would benefit from his extensive knowledge and energetic work ethic. It is a pleasure to have Gerard as a team member in the DTC.

Proud Award

Man Zhang, Research Scientist II CU/CIRES and NOAA GSL

November 14 2022

Man Zhang works for CU/CIRES at NOAA GSL and contributes to three DTC projects: Testing and Evaluation of Unified Forecast System (UFS) Physics for Operations, Toward a Unified Physics Package for the UFS Applications, and CCPP Software Support & Community Engagement.

Man has gone above and beyond the call of duty to mentor a student during the Summer of 2022. It all started when she wrote about an idea for a short project, which caught the eye of CU Denver undergraduate student Jessica Paredes Saltijeral, a sophomore pursuing a degree in physics. Man helped Jessica broaden her understanding of numerical weather prediction models, observations of the Earth System, and forecast verification. Given the virtual nature of the internship, as dictated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Man fostered close continuity with Jessica via remote collaboration tools such as Google Meet and Drive. They collaborated on comparisons of model forecasts against satellite observations. This involved physics testing for the GFS/GEFS, relevant for the project Testing and Evaluation of UFS Physics for Operations.  Jessica presented their results at a mini conference organized by CU/CIRES, the entity that sponsored the internship. They also prepared an abstract that was accepted for the AMS Student Conference in Denver, CO in 2023. Throughout this partnership, Man generously shared her expertise, thereby making a profound difference in the career (and life) of a young scientist. The experience may have been just as rewarding for Man, as evidenced by her willingness to take a new student in 2023!

Man achieved a number of additional noteworthy accomplishments in the last year. She assumed the leadership of two DTC activities (Testing and Evaluation of UFS Physics for Operations and Toward a Unified Physics Package for the UFS Applications), was a member of the DTC retreat committee, was an organizer of the CU/CIRES Rendezvous, and was promoted to CU/CIRES supervisor.

Man has made a powerful difference in a new scientist, all while taking on new roles and responsibilities in her everyday projects. Her hard work, extensive knowledge, and overall excellence has made a significant impact in the research community and the people she works with. We are very fortunate to have her in the DTC!

Man Zhang, Research Scientist II CU/CIRES and NOAA GSL