Ateneo Physics student Julie Mae Dado chosen as DOST-SEI ICON for 2013

Julie Dado receiving the DOST-SEI Icon Award for 2013

Julie Dado receiving the DOST-SEI Icon Award for 2013

by Quirino Sugon Jr.

Julie Mae Dado, a DOST ASTHRDP Scholar who has finished MS in Atmospheric Science in Ateneo de Manila University, was awarded the DOST-SEI ICONS Award during the National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) last 23-27 July 2013 at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia Complex. According to Dr. Gemma Narisma, Julie Dado’s research adviser, the ICONS award is given to “the scholar/graduates of SEI that exemplify excellence in the aspects of poverty alleviation, countryside development, climate change, and industry competitiveness—areas deemed as the focus of the current administration.” Julie was chosen by SEI “for being a key contributor in the country’s climate resiliency efforts.” In the DOST-SEI booth at SMX, the DOST ICONS had their photos posted with a short write-up on their respective impacts on the said development areas. Julie Dado shared her experiences with high school students last July 26, 2013 at the SMX Convention Center Meeting Room, in order to motivate them to choose science courses in college and become part of the science community. Below is an interview with Julie Mae Dado by the Ateneo Physics News.

1. Can you tell me more about your award?

It is called DOST-SEI ICONS Award because it is an award given to DOST scholar graduates. I was a DOST scholar graduate for my Master’s degree in Atmospheric Science in Ateneo. DOST wants to feature successful scholar graduates such as myself in the National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) for this year. The objective of the award is to inspire other students, in particular DOST scholars, to pursue careers in science. The goal is not just for them to obtain a science degree, but to entice these students to pursue a scientific career. The current administration’s priorities include, among others, climate change. That is why DOST wanted to feature Atmospheric Science graduates such as myself because of the work I have done involving climate resiliency efforts which was made possible because of the Manila Observatory’s Regional Climate Systems (RCS) program.

There were six of us. One is the former Dean of the College of Engineering of UP Diliman, Dr. Rowena Cristina Guevarra. For Geology, it is Dr. Carlos Primo C. David of the National Institute of Geological Sciences of UP Diliman. There is one for chemistry – Mr. Admer Rey Dablio. For stem cell research and molecular medicine it is Dr. Pierre Dimamay. Then there’s another one for Computer Science and Information Technology – Dr. Delfin Sabido. They are all former DOST scholars.

This is the first time DOST gave an award like this. Every year, DOST-SEI sets up a booth in the Science and Technology Week. This year, they wanted to feature the scholar graduates.

Julie Dado giving a talk at SMX Mall of Asia

Julie Dado giving a talk to science high school students at SMX Mall of Asia

2. What are you currently working on?

My field is climate studies and I focus on climate modelling in particular. I run climate models to study the climate variability of a particular area. I also run projections for various analyses, such as for crop models. We also analyze historical data to see climate trends, and to see whether there have been changes. I am just a part of a group of climate modelers. I don’t do all the work; we are a team. Therefore, I would like to acknowledge the Regional Climate Systems group and especially, Dr. Gemma Narisma, the climate research head and associate director of the Manila Observatory. I am honoured to work with a Climate Studies expert like her.

I also study land-atmosphere interactions. In particular, my graduate thesis focused on urbanization and its effects on the Southwest monsoon rainfall. We found that urbanization enhances rainfall during the Southwest monsoon.

3. What are the software or hardware requirements for climate modelling?

Regional climate models can actually be run using any computer, but raw power is of course an advantage. Long term phenomena at fine resolutions are now possible because of advances in computing hardware. In the Regional Climate Systems at the Manila Observatory, we run models using quadcore computers which are well-suited for parallel computing. Climate models also require a lot of hard disk space, i.e. we can use up an 8 terabytes of space in just 2 months of work.

4. Do you have a computer cluster?

At present, we don’t have a cluster, but we plan on building one. Although we have a 24-core computing machine.

5. What software do you use?

As of the moment, the Regional Climate Systems has the capacity to run three models: REGCM4, WRF, and MM5. I myself use RegCM4.

6. Are you using Windows or Linux?

Almost all of our models run using the Linux platform. In Linux, you can easily alter and tinker your OS. Climate models are written in Fortran, so it also helps if you have a background in Fortran if you wish to work on climate modeling studies. It is also helpful to have knowledge in C, C++, or Python, for analyzing model outputs.

Julie Dado at the DOST-SEI booth in SMX Mall of Asia

Julie Dado at the DOST-SEI booth in SMX Mall of Asia

7. Can you describe your career path at Manila Observatory?

I have been with Manila Observatory since July 2009 right after I finished college. I took up BS Applied Physics in UP Diliman and finished in 2009. My research before was on image processing with Dr. Maricor Soriano of the Instrumentation Physics Laboratory in the National Institute of Physics (NIP), UP Diliman. After graduation, I thought hard about pursuing a Master’s degree in physics. I was also open to pursue other research areas. There was an opening in Manila Observatory which involved Climate Modeling. I worked initially as a climate modeler, but given that I had no previous background in climate modeling, I found that the next logical step is to pursue a degree in atmospheric studies.

8. What are your future plans?

My short-term goal is to publish my work on urbanization and rainfall. I’m also exploring other opportunities for further studies.

9. Do you have any parting words?

At present, there is only one scientist for every 10,000 Filipinos. Scientists are the ones who push the envelope of knowledge further. If we want a better future as one people, it is therefore imperative that we increase that number.

For college students majoring in sciences and also those who are planning to take it up, they should not limit themselves to their specific fields. They should see their course only as a stepping stone. The skills that they can learn in during undergrad are important. Don’t be easily discouraged. Eventually they will find their niche. They should always ask questions with a mind of eventually finding the answers. Never stop.

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About ateneophysicsnews
Physics News and Features from Ateneo de Manila University

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