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Education and Outreach Programs

Staff Spotlight - Robert Bobby” Jackson

Robert Jackson
Title: Assistant Atmospheric Scientist, EVS
Education: Ph.D. in Atmospheric Sciences (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), M.S. in Atmospheric Sciences (UIUC), B.S. in Mathematics/Computer Science (UIUC)
Hobbies: Running, playing board games

Robert Bobby” Jackson works as an Assistant Atmospheric Scientist in the Environmental Science (EVS) division of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, where he helps the scientific community better predict climate change by developing more accurate climate models.

As a child, Bobby had a startling curiosity about the weather and wanted to learn more about what affected the weather. I taped the Weather Channel all day so I could watch it when I got home,” he recalled. This was despite the fact that it could be a perfectly sunny day outside. It helped propel my career to where I am today.”

In the junior year of his Bachelor of Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Bobby decided to go into scientific research. His focus developed further during a senior internship that combined his interests in both meteorology and computer science. After creating software to visualize cloud particle data from aircraft, he wanted to study clouds more, which led to him ultimately earning a doctorate in Atmospheric Sciences.

At the lab, Bobby designs algorithms that find weather patterns to use as samples for climate models. Additionally, he utilizes supercomputers to process weather data and maintains open source packages that validate climate models. All of these tools will improve the effectiveness of climate models and allow scientists to better understand climate change. I feel that I am working to serve the public good,” Bobby said. This helps me wake up in the morning and feel proud about what I do.”

Bobby believes that his early interest and study in computer science greatly supported his STEM growth and his career. If your school has computer programming classes, take them,” he encourages students. For any STEM career, it is becoming essential that a scientist has basic computer programming skills.” He also recommends developing networking skills, something he initially lacked and needed to learn to get to where he is today. Knowing how to network will get you far in this field,” he concluded.