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Red Sky at Night: Meteorology role models

Meteorology (say meat-ee-oh-rol-oh-gee) is all about studying the weather, and surprisingly has nothing to do with meteors. Not just whether it might rain tomorrow, but all about the atmosphere of the Earth. Our role models work on everything from satellites to studying if too much rain might damage crops.


Dr Jane Hurley, Head of Earth Observation and Atmospheric Science, Science and Technology Facilities Council, RAL Space smiling

Name: Dr Jane Hurley.

Job: Head of Earth Observation and Atmospheric Science, Science and Technology Facilities Council, RAL Space.

Hobbies: Knitting, gardening, all things arts and crafty!

How did you get to where you are now?
I went to university in Newfoundland, Canada, and then eventually moved to the UK, and worked on using satellites to study clouds around Earth, then other planets as well! I went on to design and build instruments that get launched to space. I joined the senior leadership team at RAL Space, first as the Head of Space Engineering and Technology, moving recently to be the Head of Earth Observation and Atmospheric Science.

What is the best thing about what you do?
I learn new stuff every day. We are at the cutting edge of what is possible, so when we’re trying to design or build a space instrument or do something new with the data coming from it, we never know whether it’s possible or not! It’s pretty cool to remember programming in the computer commands that got ‘beamed up’ to the Cassini spacecraft in orbit around Saturn and going to the launch of the InSight mission to Mars (with my daughter kicking in my seven-month-pregnant belly when the rocket launched!).

What are the people you work with like?
They’re clever, they’re funny, they’re quirky and individual, they’re hardworking, but most importantly they’re lovely people who become like family.

Jane Hurley image credit: UKRI/STFC

A headshot of smiling Maria Reed, Process and Assembly Engineer at RAL Space

Name: Maria Reed.

Job: Process and Assembly Engineer for RAL Space.

Hobbies: Cooking, crochet, art and crafts, reading and travelling.

How did you get to where you are now?
I am Filipino (from the Philippines) and English is not my first language. I have always dreamt big ever since I was a child and it has been a long and a bumpy journey to get to where I am today in the engineering industry. It is a tough environment for a woman, especially from an ethnic minority group, but I am resilient in the face of adversity. It took me 20+ years in STEM, but I have just been awarded EngTech Professional Registration from the Engineering Council. It is massive achievement for me to have this recognition.

What inspired you to choose your job?
It was a change of career from being a care assistant 20 years ago, after I came across an electronics company willing to train me. The requirement was a good eye for detail and having good dexterity. From then on, I was inspired to do electronics, engineering and research and development work.

What is the best thing about what you do?
The best and most enjoyable thing is the variety of work. Mostly I do inspections for space flight equipment in the Earth Observation Atmospheric Science Division group. Most of our devices and instruments are designed for earth observation – to monitor weather, pollution, and gases in the air.

Ed Williamson, Earth Observation Data Scientist at the Centre for Environmental Data Analysis in a rural setting

Name: Ed Williamson.

Job: Earth Observation Data Scientist at the Centre for Environmental Data Analysis (CEDA).

What three words would you use to describe yourself? Competitive, reliable, and adaptable.

What inspired you to choose your job?
While at university I was lucky enough to do a summer internship looking at how data from satellites could be used to help predict pests and disease in crops. This really sparked my interest in working with earth observation data, along with programming skills in creating software.

What is the best thing about what you do?
Knowing that the work I do is really making a difference. Whether that is helping to enable cutting-edge research into looking at the health of our planet, or ensuring data are available to future generations so that long-term datasets can help improve our understanding of our environment.

What are the people you work with like?
There are roughly 30 people in the CEDA team, and they are all wonderful! I am lucky to work with many different people, in and outside the CEDA – such as software engineers who build new tools for using big data, public engagement specialists who translate complex science into fun activities, experts who build and test satellites and researchers looking at solutions to climate change.

IOP meteorology role models sticker showing the sun half behind a cloud