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ULM’s Todd Murphy receives three grants worth over a quarter-million

Published September 22, 2016

MONROE, La. — Dr. Todd Murphy, assistant professor of atmospheric science at the University of Louisiana Monroe, has secured three grants totaling $263,767.

The grants were awarded by the Louisiana Board of Regents, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), with supporting grants provided by ULM.   

Murphy is an active researcher in the area of southeast severe weather and is recognized as a leading researcher on ULM’s campus.

“The success rate on grants is around 10-30%,” said Dr. Eric Pani, VP of academic affairs at ULM. “To be so successful so quickly is a testament to the quality of Dr. Murphy’s work. The results of his tornado research impact northeast Louisiana and other regions where tornadoes might occur.”

Murphy’s funding will allow him to pursue two main goals: to improve severe weather research in the southeastern region and to update ULM’s weather instrumentation, software and technology. 

New computers purchased with portions of the grant money will be used to operate the AWIPS–II software, which is the same software used by the National Weather Service (NWS), where many students in the program hope to find a career.

“Once the computers are up and AWIPS-II installed, meteorologists from the Shreveport NWS office have agreed to host an AWIPS-II workshop at ULM so our students can learn the intricacies of the software,” said Murphy.

Murphy is also excited about the acquisition of a new microwave radiometer—an instrument designed to continuously monitor profiles of air temperature, humidity, and liquid water content. The instrument, expected to arrive in mid-October, will be installed on the roof of Hannah Hall. 

“The radiometer will greatly compliment some of our current research and teaching infrastructure such as the polarimetric S-band radar and our weather balloon capabilities,” said Murphy, adding that ULM is the only undergraduate-specific program in the nation to have this instrument combination.

The largest of the three grants, awarded by NOAA, will go toward the continuation of ULM’s participation in the VORTEX-SE tornado field program for another year.

VORTEX-SE stands for “Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes EXperiment-Southeast,” a research program designed to understand how environmental factors characteristic of the southeastern United States affect the formation, intensity, structure, and path of tornadoes in this region.

ULM participated in the research last spring as one of several research groups launching weather balloons during the build-up of severe thunderstorms.

Murphy says he loves this program because it gets students out of the classroom and into the field. 

“Students get to experience first-hand many of the things they learn about in the classroom,” said Murphy. “Without these grants, these experiences would not be possible.”