Tim Hatlee enters the graduate program in the Department of Meteorology with a great honor—he has been awarded the Dennis and Joan Thomson Distinguished Graduate Fellowship in Meteorology for 2010-2011. The fellowship was established by Drs. Dennis and Joan Thomson in 2008 as a means to attract high caliber students to the Meteorology graduate program who have the potential to make unique contributions to the atmospheric sciences.
Tim has a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Syracuse University, but after graduating and holding a few engineering jobs, he quickly determined that he lacked the passion necessary to enjoy it as a career. If it was passion he was seeking, he came to the right place. Passion is what drives so many atmospheric scientists to pursue rewarding careers in the field; typically they have a passion for the weather and the environment, they love the randomness of nature, and they are driven to learn more about it. Besides just a fascination with every day weather phenomena, Tim attributes his interest in atmospheric science to a single class that he took while pursuing his BS degree—fluid mechanics. So, armed with that knowledge and the strong reputation of Penn State Meteorology’s graduate program and the vast range of research opportunities it offers, he made the decision to apply for admission. Another interesting twist to the story is that Tim’s brother Stephen received his MS degree from Penn State Meteorology, so he already has an excellent mentor and colleague to guide him throughout his education. Tim plans to explore several research areas before settling in to one in particular, but admits that he is initially drawn toward tropical meteorology.
The Thomsons, both professors who have served on Penn State’s faculty since 1970, have a long history of commitment to students. Over their years at Penn State, they have generously opened their home to over 350 graduate and undergraduate students for holiday and class-related dinners. Their Distinguished Graduate Fellowship now gives them the opportunity to help specific graduate students realize their goals and puts the Department of Meteorology in a good position to recruit the most brilliant, creative, and innovative advanced-degree candidates to their program.
Michael Lowe, who is also pursuing graduate studies in Meteorology, received the Dennis and Joan Thomson Distinguished Graduate Fellowship in its inaugural year.
The Distinguished Graduate Fellowship program is a University-wide initiative to attract the nation's most capable graduate students to Penn State by increasing the number of available fellowships through philanthropic support. When a fellowship is fully funded at its $250,000 minimum, the University, through the Graduate School and the fellowship's affiliate college, will match the endowment's annual spendable income in perpetuity, thus increasing the amount available to the recipient in the form of tuition aid, a stipend, and health insurance.