Turning Typhoons into Applied Learning

Cidny Ramirez (one from right) has spent her summer studying abroad in Taipei.

ALBANY, N.Y. (Aug. 8, 2016) – As Super Typhoon Nepartak approached Taiwan, Cidny Ramirez knew she was living her dream.

Ramirez, a native of Colombia and junior at UAlbany, is studying abroad in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, as the University’s first National Science Foundation (NSF) Partnership in International Research and Education (PIRE) grant recipient.

She was already in Taiwan when Nepartak, a category-5 cyclone, hit the country’s eastern shoreline in early July.

“I saw hurricanes on TV for the first time after moving to America. I think they are so majestic and beautiful, while also powerful and deadly. It’s an amazing combination that awes me,” Ramirez said. 

UAlbany’s PIRE project was developed last September to advance research in early warning weather detection of major storms through a U.S.-Taiwan consortium. Led by the University’s Atmospheric Research Center, the program works closely with disaster and weather forecast agencies in both countries.

Ramirez was an ideal candidate for UAlbany’s first PIRE grant recipient, given her double major in atmospheric science and Chinese studies. Under the leadership of program coordinator Danielle Leonard, she’s studying both topics in Taipei for six weeks – the program began July 2 and ends Aug. 13 – with all living expenses and research experiences paid for.

She is also the 2016-17 recipient of The Jane Heath Takas & Andrew Takas Scholarship, which was established by Andrew Takas ’43 in 2007. This endowed University at Albany Foundation scholarship provides support for students who demonstrate high academic achievement.

Luckily, Ramirez was not directly in the path of Nepertak, but did experience a milder version of the super typhoon. Now she’s examining its impact, along with the destruction caused from other major typhoons that have hit Taiwan in the past. Included is Typhoon Morakot, which was responsible for more than 500 deaths in 2009.

“I want to be able to help people in countries where hurricanes are a major threat,” Ramirez. “Through improved disaster response and early weather detection, death tolls from these storms have the potential to decrease.”

Cidny Ramirez
Ramirez is UAlbany’s first recipient of the PIRE grant. (Photo by Paul Miller)

Ramirez said she plans to continue her education following graduation from UAlbany. Her hope is to obtain a Ph.D. and work for the U.S. government as part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Until then, she’ll continue taking advantage of the hundreds of applied learning opportunities available through the University. Outside of the PIRE program, Ramirez is also a brother of Alpha Phi Omega and secretary of the newly created “Friends of the LLC’s” which aims to bridge the gap between freshmen in the Living-Learning Communities and other organizations on campus.

“UAlbany offers so many unique ways to advance your education outside of the classroom. You just need to go out and look for them. I first found out about the PIRE grant on the University’s website,” Ramirez said. “Being proactive and open to new things is the best way for us to grow as students.”

Learn more about UAlbany’s PIRE project here. Students are also encouraged to contact Danielle Leonard via email for additional information on becoming the next PIRE grant recipient.

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany-SUNY offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, businesseducation, public health,health sciences, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare and sociology, taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.