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June 4, 2013

ULM Atmospheric Science professor receives student research grant

Dr. Larry Hopper, assistant professor of atmospheric science at the University of Louisiana at Monroe was recently awarded a student research grant from the Louisiana Board of Regents to study precipitation microphysics in different weather environments.

The Supervised Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) grant project is titled, "Microphysical Variations in Raindrop Size Distributions Associated with Diverse Storm Types and Environments," and will provide Hopper and his undergraduate researcher—Tony Viramontez of Benton—with the funds needed to perform the research.

Viramontez will receive a $4,000 stipend and an additional $500 will be used for research supplies and conference travel as a part of the project.

"Tony will be using a new Parsivel-2 laser-optical disdrometer that we will be installing over the summer for undergraduate research and teaching purposes to observe how rain drop size distributions vary for the wide variety of storm types northeast Louisiana experiences throughout the year," said Hopper.

"This will help us determine how applicable current radar algorithms used to estimate precipitation are for our region while also evaluating how well this particular disdrometer performs in heavy rainfall relative to rain gauge observations."

Hopper continued, "Tony will also attempt to quantify the background environments these storms occur in—work that I have been involved in the past as a graduate student that we would like to make another attempt at."

Viramontez also wrote a competitive proposal to Tulane's Oscar Lee Putnam Cultural and Intellectual Enrichment Program last spring and was awarded $950 to help pay for rain gauges and an anemometer that he used in his research this year.

Viramontez has presented his research at the ULM Undergraduate Research Symposium, Louisiana Academy of Sciences, University of Louisiana System Academic Summit, and the American Meteorological Society's Student Conference at their Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas.

Viramontez will also participate in the "Atmospheric Science in the Gulf Coast Region" at Texas A&M University.

This grant marks the second grant that Hopper has received from the SURE competition.

Previously, Hopper received a grant with Justin Pullin (B.S. '12) during the first SURE competition for the 2011-12 academic year for their project that was titled, "A climatological comparison of significant tornadoes in Dixie Alley and Tornado Alley."

Pullin now works as a Storm Warning Meteorologist for AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions in Wichita, Kansas.

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