Samantha Ballard

Doctoral Graduate Research Assistant

Who am I?

My name is Samantha Ballard. I am currently a PhD student studying Applied Marine Physics, with a focus Meteorology and Oceanography at the University of Miami. I graduated with my Bachelor's of Science from Pennsylvania State University in Spring 2015.

I am currenty located in Miami, Fl, but grew up in Severn, MD.

Outside of my education, my hobbies include fitness, cooking/eating delicious food, reading, traveling, filming for my Youtube Channel, and spending as much time as I can outdoors (most likely at the beach).

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Research Interests

My interests are meteorology, oceanography, wind and wave retrieval, coastal dynamics, hurricanes, air-sea interactions, Synthetic Aperature Radar (radar), and marine and atmospheric forecasting.

My PhD research at the University of Miami utilizes remote sensing techniques to better understand the coastal air-sea environment. I am proficient in the computer languages, Matlab, Python, IDL and Fortran.

My PhD project at the University of Miami is an Office of Naval Research (ONR) funded experiment called Coastal Land Air Sea Interaction (CLASI). CLASI was a field experiment conducted in June, 2016 in Monterey Bay, California. Insitu data was collected from rawinsondes, polarimetric cameras, ships, coastal towers, as well as, spaceborne Synthetic Aperature Radar (SAR) images, in order to better understand the air-sea interaction dynamics near the coast in Monterey Bay, California. My primary role in the experiment is to utilize the SAR images for wind and wave retrievals to explore surface roughness patterns (spatially and temporally) in the coastal zone. My goal is to improve SAR wind retrieval algorithms, which are developed for the open ocean, in coastal areas, where the relationship between surface roughness, wind and waves is more complex and less understood. In my intensive study of Monterey Bay, CA, I also analyze other data from the experiment, such as buoy wind and wave measurements, coastal tower wind measurements, tidal station data, atmospheric soundings, etc.

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My Work

I attended Pennsylvania State University to begin my career in atmospheric science. The summer after my sophomore year I completed a weather forecasting internship with the morning meteorologist at Fox 45 News in Baltimore, MD. I strengthened my forecasting/broadcasting skills by writing forecasts, updating social media, and creating on-screen weather forecasts to build my resume tape. My research career began, during my undergraduate studies at Pennsylvania State University, with an internship at University of Colorado Boulder the summer after my Junior year. I participated in a Space Weather/Physics REU (Research Experience for Undergrads) with CU Boulder and Southwest Research Institute. My project involved improving an algorithm to autonomously detect coronal mass ejections from NASA STEREO data.

During my senior year at Pennsylvania State University, I completed a research internship at National Weather Service (NWS) in State College, PA where I assisted with weather and hydrological forecasts. My main project utilized Python to create a case study of major winter weather events in the region during the winter season.

In Fall 2015, I began my PhD graduate assistantship at the University of Miami. My advisor, Dr. Hans Graber, sent me a research cruise in Palau during my first summer at University of Miami. This was a 10 day cruise around the islands of Palau in collaboration with the Flow Over Abrupt Topography Experiment (FLEAT). My primary role was to install our X-Band nautical radar on the R/V Revelle. The radar measured ocean surface waves and small scale flow patterns over the island-ridge system. Surface currents and wind speeds were derived using Doppler information from the radar.

In Summer 2017, I attended an internship at NASA Goddard in Greenbelt, MD. My project was developing a preliminary P-Band wind retrieval algorithm using NASA's EcoSAR. I was successful in creating the 1st P-Band wind retrieval algorithm and obtaining preliminary wind field results over the coastline of Costa Rica. I was awarded 3rd place in the NASA Goddard student poster competition science category for my work.

Outside of my PhD, I am involved in tutoring, a mentorship program for women in oceanography called MPOWIR, and creating weather forecasts, and other oceanic/atmospheric science-focused videos for my Youtube Weather Channel, Samantha BallardWx.

Say Hello.

Contact me if you have any questions or interests in my work!