Sunday, May 10, 2015

USNA Professor Receives Fulbright Scholarship

United States Naval Academy (USNA) Assistant Professor, Dr. Bradford Barrett of the Oceanography Department, will spend nine months in Mexico City studying weather phenomena with his international counterparts as part of a grant he received through the Fulbright Scholar Program.

The Fulbright Scholar Program provides a means for U.S. scholars and professionals, and their counterparts at host institutions, to exchange academic knowledge, and bridge geographic and cultural boundaries to increase international understanding in response to critical global issues.

Photo by MC2 Tyler Caswell

Starting in August, Barrett will travel to Mexico to study specific weather conditions and the correlating effects they have on other parts of the world. His studies will apply the concepts of seasonal predictions for weather events to develop better methods for fine tuning those predictions for more accurate forecasting.

“With this current Fulbright Scholar grant, I will be affiliated with one of the top universities in the region, the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico, in Mexico City,” said Barrett. “While there, I will study variability of precipitation and air quality on monthly time scales, specifically trying to improve predictability of both.

Barrett explained that Mexico is a semi-arid country with many climate regimes. His goal is to study the relationships between precipitation and the Madden-Julian Oscillation, a main driver of tropical weather patterns. Mexico City routinely suffers from poor air quality, and he will be looking for a connection between air quality, precipitation, and the Madden-Julian Oscillation.

Barrett has been teaching at the Naval Academy for six years. His professional and personal approach towards educating midshipmen and his commitment to conducting research has been a driving force for USNA’s Oceanography Department.

“There is a delicate balance to managing research and educating,” said Oceanography Department Chair, Capt. Emil Petruncio. “This award is incredibly prestigious and it speaks volumes on Barrett’s character. Our department is fortunate to be able to have someone with his knowledge and so compelled to conduct research.”

Before becoming a faculty member at USNA, Barrett was a postdoctoral scholar doing research in Santiago, Chile. The variety of environments and open exchange of ideas and information is something Barrett looks forward to during his nine months abroad.

“I value cross-cultural learning and think that I have much to gain from the insights of meteorologists and climatologists who were trained in a different setting than I was,” said Barrett. “I am also a strong advocate for greater exchange between the U.S. and Latin America, and this award gives me a platform to enrich and advance meteorology in the region.”

Barrett’s interest in his research resonates in his collaboration with colleagues and students alike. His ability to share his knowledge and motivate his students directly embodies the character of the faculty here at USNA.

“Perhaps the most striking characteristic of Brad as a colleague is the boundless energy and motivation he brings to all aspects of his current professorship,” said Assistant Professor Gina R. Henderson, Ph.D., Oceanography Department. “This is evident in the number of research students he has mentored since being at the Academy, the success of which is directly measurable by the number of co-authored publications with said students over the past few years. This is especially remarkable since we are an undergraduate only institution”

Barrett plans to engage with midshipmen while in Mexico and is looking forward to bringing his ideas and knowledge from his experience back to USNA.

“One of the more exciting opportunities to come of my Fulbright award could be the chance for midshipmen to visit me in Mexico City and see for themselves the meteorological and climatological diversity,” said Barrett. “In my USNA courses, I include examples from around the world, including Latin America, and my experience next year will provide even more examples to use. I have advised 15 midshipmen in independent research, several of those projects leading to prestigious peer-reviewed articles, and I look forward to returning in 2016 with new ideas and opportunities.”

Visit the Oceanography Department website for more information on the oceanography program at USNA.

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