Student Spotlight

Cidny Ramirez
 Paul Miller

Cidny Ramirez | Transforming Typhoons Into Applied Learning

By Mike S. Nolan, B.S.’12

As Super Typhoon Nepartak approached Taiwan in early July, UAlbany junior Cidny Ramirez knew she was living her dream.

The Colombia native was studying abroad in Taipei, Taiwan’s capital, as the University’s first National Science Foundation (NSF) Partnership in International Research and Education (PIRE) grant recipient.

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

Through a U.S.-Taiwan consortium, UAlbany’s PIRE project was developed in September 2015 to advance research in early-warning weather detection of major storms. Led by the University’s Atmospheric Sciences Research Center (ASRC), the program collaborates closely with disaster and weather-forecast agencies in both countries.

Cidny with a group of students in Taiwan

Ramirez was an ideal candidate for UAlbany’s first PIRE grant, given her double major in atmospheric science and Chinese studies. Under the leadership of program coordinator Danielle Leonard, she spent six weeks in Taipei. All of her living expenses and research experiences were paid during her stay, which ran from July 2 until Aug. 13.

Luckily, Ramirez was not directly in Nepertak’s path, but she did experience a milder version of the Category-5 cyclone. She was able to examine its impact, along with the destruction past major typhoons have wreaked on Taiwan. One of them was 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,” explained Ramirez, who plans to pursue a Ph.D. after graduating from UAlbany and aspires to work for the U.S. government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The recipient of the 2016-17 Jane Heath Takas and Andrew Takas Scholarship is grateful for the study-abroad experience. “UAlbany offers so many unique ways to advance your education outside of the classroom. You just need to go out and look for them,” Ramirez noted.

“Being proactive and open to new things is the best way for us to grow as students.”