Melissa Burt is Education and Diversity Manager for the NSF Science and Technology Center for Multiscale Modeling of Atmospheric Processes (CMMAP) in the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University. In this position she is developing programs to enhance understanding of global climate through K-12, undergraduate, and graduate study as well as informal education and public presentations. Melissa is committed to improving and increasing diversity in STEM by designing programs to encourage participation, and increase access and retention for members of historically underrepresented groups.
Melissa is also working toward her PhD studying the role and influence of clouds on the distribution of Arctic sea ice and how this may change in a future warmer climate.
Ever since Melissa was a young child, she has been interested in the weather. It started as a fear of thunderstorms and turned into a desire to learn more. In high school, Melissa started to become more intrigued by the weather and was even featured as a main character in her high school physics teacher’s weather cartoons as the weather girl.
As an undergraduate student she participated in the SOARS program (Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Research and Science), which is a four-year, summer internship program for students that are interested in understanding the atmosphere. This program transformed Melissa as a student and allowed her to find her niche in the field as well as a great group of friends. While working on a Masters Degree in Atmospheric Science at CSU, she started participating in education and outreach by periodically going to elementary and middle schools and talking with kids about weather and climate through hands on activities. This is where she realized that not only did she love science, but also seeing young kids get so excited and intrigued by science.
As the E&D Manager and a PhD student, Melissa feels that she has the best of both worlds. She is able to teach young kids about weather and climate and mentor young adults during a pivotal time in their career — with the added bonus of working on climate science research.
Melissa’s first experience with the Earth Science Women’s Network was in 2010, when she attended the Fall AGU meeting in San Francisco for the first time. A friend of hers was planning to attend the ESWN reception and asked if she wanted to come along. Melissa hadn’t heard of ESWN before, but decided to tag along anyway.
Melissa says, “Not only has ESWN provided me with an exceptional network of talented and brilliant women, it has provided me with a community. The opportunity to hear about other members’ experience and to ask questions from a diverse group has been invaluable. It’s always nice to hear that someone else has been in your shoes and that you can hear about the steps they took to overcome the challenges to get where they are today. Most importantly, everyone is so welcoming! I look forward to participating in future events and workshops as I continue in my career.”
Outside of her E&D job and PhD studies, Melissa is an active member with AMS and serves as the Chair for the AMS Board on Women and Minorities and the President for the Northern Colorado Chapter of the AMS. In her free time, Melissa enjoys gardening, cooking, and running.