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Alyssa Hendricks Dietrich

Alyssa Hendricks Dietrich

Senior Hydrometeorologist and Technical Lead

MetStat, Inc.

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What was your major/minor at Purdue and when did you graduate?

I majored in Atmospheric Science and minored in Natural Resources and Environmental Science. I graduated from Purdue in 2013.

What was your most compelling class and why?

The most compelling class I took was atmospheric thermodynamics. It was difficult, but incredibly rewarding to use all the calculus and physics pre-requisites learned previously and apply to them to something in my major.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently the project manager for two Probable Maximum Precipitation studies for a series of large, high-hazard dams in the western US. My job is to determine the theoretical max amount of precipitation that could fall over a certain area size in a given amount of time. This information is then shared with hydrologic engineers to ensure dams are built and maintained safely.

What drove you to pursue your current career path?

I had been interested in meteorology, and the weather in general, since a young age, which is actually pretty common for people in this field. I grew up in the Colorado Front Range during some intense drought years and was shaped by water (or the lack thereof) and knew I wanted to focus on the precipitation side of meteorology.

Did you pursue internships/co-ops, research experiences, volunteer, or join student organizations while you attended Purdue?

I tried to take advantage of all the was available to me during my time at Purdue! I did undergraduate research with Dr. Ernie Agee and we published our findings on Hurricane-Induced Tornadoes in the State of Florida in the Journal of Climate. I also helped in the Atmospheric Chemistry lab with Dr. Shepson, where I was able to participate in field work in Indianapolis and played a role in analyzing some of the data I helped to collect. I held volunteer positions with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (Thank you, Dr. Agee!) and the National Weather Service in Boulder, CO during my summer breaks, and was finally given a paid internship as the Meteorology Intern for Southwest Airlines. I studied abroad at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom for one semester my junior year, where I was able to take all my meteorology classes in a new and challenging environment. Finally, I was also an active member of the Women in Science Program, Purdue Science Student Council, and College of Science Ambassadors (phew!). Through these activities I was able to interact with students and professors, gaining all kinds of valuable experience and information – plus I met some of my best friends! Each of these activities also helped me continue my education as I pursued graduate school at Colorado State University and finally led me to my current job.  In particular, I would rate undergraduate research as the most worthwhile activity I took on during my time at Purdue. It allowed me to be better prepared for graduate school and publishing a journal article gave me a foot in the door for much more advanced research. 

What advice would you give to prospective or current Purdue students about how to make the best use of what Purdue offers?

My advice to current students, especially those studying atmospheric science, would be to discover what you truly love about the field. There’s a lot more to meteorology and atmospheric science than forecasting and I didn’t truly know all the options that could be ahead of me when I started at Purdue. Talk to your professors, talk to graduate students, and talk to alumni and see what path they took!

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