Keah Schuenemann is a Meteorology professor in the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences department at the Metropolitan State University of Denver where she has developed a popular introductory Global Climate Change course. Her Bachelor's degree is from the University of Wisconsin and her Master's and Ph.D. are from the University of Colorado, all in Atmospheric and Oceanic Science. Her dissertation research used self-organizing maps (SOMs) to create a climatology of the large-scale weather patterns that affect precipitation over the melting Greenland Ice Sheet and investigate how weather patterns and precipitation are changing. You can find her work published in the Journal of Geophysical Research-- Atmospheres and the Journal of Hydrometeorology. She teaches Dynamic Meteorology and Advanced Synoptic Meteorology to senior meteorology majors who enter class with prerequisites of differential equations and physics. This has lead her to her current research on the climatology of large-scale weather patterns in the Northern Hemisphere that she works on in between her 12-credit per semester teaching load. Her preliminary results were presented at the American Meteorological Society conference. She also teaches a few introductory courses such as Weather and Climate, Colorado Weather Extremes, and Physics and Chemistry for elementary education majors. She is passionate about pedagogy, teaching science literacy, and climate change communication and her most recent publication appears in the Journal of Geoscience Education. She is a presenter for the Massively Open Online Course (MOOC) Denial101x Making Sense of Climate Science Denial through the University of Queensland and EdX, created by the skepticalscience.com team. You can see Keah's detailed CV by clicking on the tab above.
How do you say Keah's name? It is pronounced Key-ah Shane-ah-min.
After seeing an F5 tornado in Wisconsin in 1996 from my front porch, my obsession with the weather and affinity for math lead me to the Atmospheric and Oceanic Science program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. My interests easily migrated from severe weather to climate change and environmental science after taking a few inspiring courses. I grew up on an apple orchard and spent most of my childhood outdoors during the unfrozen months in Wisconsin, which cultivated my appreciation for the natural world. After four challenging years, two of which I suffered from undiagnosed Celiac Disease, I got my degree. During a spring break trip to Storm Peak Lab in Steamboat Springs my senior year, I found myself drawn to Colorado, and ended up there for graduate school. At the University of Colorado I studied large scale weather patterns and their influence on Greenland precipitation over the past, and predicted by climate models in the future. Some of my committee members were at the National Snow and Ice Data Center and this was when Arctic sea ice started to set a new record minimum every few years, which got me deeply interested in Arctic change. Meanwhile, I was a teaching assistant through most of graduate school and got the opportunity to guest lecture and even be the instructor of record for climate, weather, and geography courses. Turns out teaching was a passion of mine I didn't realize existed until these opportunities. Although tornadoes are not my area of expertise, they still fascinate me and totally freak me out, so I tag along on storm chasing trips to get my fill.
Shortly after graduating with my PhD at age 26, I got a professorship at Metropolitan State University of Denver where I taught physics and chemistry to elementary education majors, introductory meteorology courses, upper level dynamic meteorology and synoptic meteorology courses, and developed a Global Climate Change course. Teaching 12 credits a semester plus labs is a great way to grow quickly as a teaching professor! Our meteorology graduates are scattered around the country at various graduate schools, television stations, and other related jobs.
Teaching 12 credits a semester (33 total credits in a year when summer is included) also puts a damper on keeping a publication record alive, but I continue to research large scale weather systems and how they may change with global warming. I research climate change education pedagogical techniques as well. I am creating lectures for a Massively Open Online Course (MOOC) through Edx with the skepticalscience.com team where we teach students how to debunk climate change myths. (This is open to the public.) When I'm not in the classroom, I'm advising, working on curriculum, doing a variety of service activities to keep things running, and working on my research. I occasionally squeeze in some skiing and travel, plus time with family in Wisconsin. I am excited for my first trip to Alaska this summer to check out some glaciers with a class!
|My photo of mammatus clouds in South Boulder, CO, USA|