Associate Scientist, Center for Severe Weather Research
Maiana is still figuring out where her true niche lies, but has thoroughly enjoyed her diverse and circuitous route to where she is now - a severe weather researcher who gets to enjoy adventures in the field in addition to pursuing interesting analyses back in the office.
Since graduating from Duke with a B.S. in Earth & Ocean Sciences, Maiana pursued oceanographic research during a fellowship at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, before embarking upon an early career as a research geologist for the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, Calif. There she investigated landslides and debris-flows in response to heavy rains post-wildfires in Southern California.
After four years at the USGS she decided to continue her schooling, pursuing a Master's degree in geography from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she used remotely sensed satellite imagery to investigate how glaciers in the Andes have fared since this imagery became available in the 1970s. Still uncertain of her career direction, Maiana took advantage of an opportunity and moved to Switzerland to work at the Swiss Federal Center for Geoinformation mapping out Switzerland in 3D. This allowed her to enjoy the wonderful Swiss mountains and travel while also putting her ArcGIS and remote sensing skills to good use!
After five years in Switzerland, the US and other exciting career opportunities pulled her back, and she is now working as a severe weather researcher for a small non-profit, the Center for Severe Weather Research, in Boulder, Colo. She loves pursuing field meteorology again (Maiana used to storm chase with this team during her summers back at Duke), and spends a substantial portion of her year driving and operating a mobile radar truck around the country, and even internationally - at the end of 2018 they will be taking the radar trucks to Argentina to study storm systems there! While she never previously enjoyed teaching, she actually loves taking the radar trucks to various schools and outreach events nationwide, getting others (young and old) excited about meteorology and storms, and loves seeing how their eyes widen upon learning about and stepping into the radar trucks!
Maiana's path has been far from linear, but she's excited to have been able to work in so many different fields, and her Earth & Ocean Science background has kept her in good stead providing her with a wide range of knowledge upon which to build! She looks forward to where the future may take her, but for now is thoroughly enjoying essentially being a professional storm chaser!
" The Earth & Ocean Sciences major in Duke’s Nicholas School is where I found confidence and passion to pursue my career, one that I'm still formulating and defining. The mentoring I received (and continue to receive), has been invaluable. Second to this has been the skillset I developed through a variety of experiences including field trips which solidified my love for and ability to engage in team work, collaboration, and field research -- something I hope to continue in career plans moving forward."