UAlbany Hollings Scholar is Nation's Top Student Forecaster

By Vinny Reda (June 4, 2007)

Michael Landin with David Cook
 Michael Landin with David Cook

The brilliance of sophomore David Cook has let the sun shine on UAlbany's Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences (DEAS) once more. For the third straight year, the department boasts a winner of the prestigious Hollings Scholarship, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Sophomore Cook, a UAlbany Presidential Scholar, follows Robert Tracey '06 and Will Komaromi '08 in receiving the award, designed to increase undergraduate training and research and to prepare students for professional careers in oceanic and atmospheric science.

Cook added significant thunder to the Hollings honor in early April when he finished first among all student weather forecasters in the WxChallenge, a six-month nationwide weather-forecasting competition.

As part of the UAlbany Forecasting team of students, faculty and staff, his challenge was to judge the maximum and minimum temperature and maximum sustained wind speed and rainfall amounts during 24-hour periods for ten different cities over two-week intervals.

The UAlbany team finished fourth among more than 50 universities, with Cook actually placing sixth in the entire competition, out of more than 1,600 entrants, many of them professional forecasters. Amazing, considering he had only two weeks of forecasting experience coming into September.

UAlbany Weather Center Director and team captain Michael Landin nonetheless signed Cook up for the junior/senior level competition. "It turned out that I called it right in David's case," said Landin. "I am extremely proud of him. Not only that, as one of the top 64 forecasters in the Challenge, he went on to the special WxChallenge Tournament after that — and knocked me out of the competition!"

Cook credits much of his success to the DEAS faculty. "The best thing about the program is that professors like Mike Landin and Lance Bosart are helpful and approachable — in addition to being very knowledgeable. Mike helped me to very quickly acquire an understanding of basic analysis and forecasting techniques."

The Shaker High School graduate from Latham recalls that he had a scholarship offer in geology from RPI, but chose Albany instead. "I'd heard excellent reviews about the department and I decided I liked meteorology more," said Cook, testimony once again to his forecasting excellence.

Cook aims to get his degree in atmospheric sciences with a probable second major in physics. "The physics will give me the science behind why weather events such as rain or the formation of fog occur," he said. "My goal is a career in research of severe weather, such as tornadoes or tropical storm systems."

The Hollings Scholarship should help there too, as Cook will choose from the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., or the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Fla., for his internship.



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