NCCS User Spotlight: Dr. David New

To better understand how early-career scientists are using NCCS resources, we interviewed NASA post-doc David New.

Hometown: I was born and raised in Fallbrook, California, a smallish town north of San Diego. I have lived in College Park, Maryland, for almost 9 years since moving east for graduate school.

Career path to NASA: I majored in economics in college and went on to a master’s degree in applied mathematics before deciding to pursue a doctorate in atmospheric science at the University of Maryland (UMD). I am grateful to have received funding from a NASA graduate fellowship (NESSF; now called FINESST) to support my doctoral research, which I continue to work on as a post-doc at the NASA Goddard Modeling and Assimilation Office (GMAO).

Current role at NASA: I’m working on a project aiming to improve the representation of turbulence and shallow clouds in the NASA GEOS numerical weather prediction model. I’m also developing a framework for testing and tuning such improvements in an idealized setting called single-column modeling.

NCCS support of research/career: NCCS has been central in supporting my research by providing a generous allocation of computing time on the Discover supercomputer. I use that allocation to run computationally-intensive atmospheric models called large-eddy simulations. In addition, whenever I have a question or need software installed, the NCCS user support team is fantastic.

Inspiration: I’m a pretty curious person, so when I learn something new or interesting, I get excited and occasionally obsessed. In a research setting, that usually means gaining new insight into something I’m trying to model.

People who have influenced me: I’m inspired professionally by many great researchers, too many to list. In a quasi-professional sense however, I am inspired by my parents. Together they built a small business and kept it afloat despite the vagaries of economic conditions over four decades. Moreover, without a background in architecture or construction, my father personally designed and built our family home, taking him over a decade. That kind of fortitude made an important impression on me, and I try to imitate it in my work the best that I can.

Challenges: I decided to leave graduate school the first time I attempted it. However, I bounced back with the support of a lot of great mentors, especially my later graduate advisors Professor Sam Shen at San Diego State University and Professor Xin-Zhong Liang at UMD.

Is there anything else you would like to mention? Mentorship is important. I continue to have great mentors at GMAO like Nathan Arnold and Andrea Molod, who have been especially helpful in supporting my research and career in terms of both resources and moral support.

Sean Keefe, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center