Week 1: Goals

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Monday, June 8, 2020


Anna Murphree

[All views are my own.]

Hello! This is Anna, and I’m one of the NASA interns this summer. Briefly, I’m a senior physics major at Rhodes College in Memphis, TN. I am very excited and grateful to be part of this program this summer!

What a time to be an intern! The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly brought us into unprecedented times. While I know we all wish we could be together in DC, I am very grateful to SPS and NASA for making this internship happen virtually. Monday, we kicked things off with an SPS orientation via Zoom. It was great to meet my fellow interns and program coordinators while learning about our summer plans. I also had NASA-wide and Goddard orientations, which made me even more excited to work in such a large and diverse scientific collaboration.

I was originally going to be doing a more hands-on project in the Observational Cosmology lab, which was not possible remotely. Luckily, I will be remotely researching extreme precipitation events (EPEs) with Dr. Yaping Zhou instead. I am very excited to learn about meteorological data analysis, as all my previous research has been in astronomy. I feel a bit like an astronomer masquerading as an earth scientist! Fortunately, a lot of the Python coding skills I have learned are transferring over. I have been writing lots of code this week, trying to characterize EPEs with various meteorological variables in the massive MERRA-2 dataset. Next week, I will be receiving a laptop from NASA that will allow me to use a supercomputer (!!) to work with these huge amounts of data. I have a lot to learn, and I am excited to get into it.

Outside of coding, I have been able to attend NASA-sponsored Lunch and Learn webinars, with topics ranging from how to use Teams effectively to the newest spacesuits. I also called in to my first-ever telecon with the interns of Goddard’s Code 600 science division. Wednesday, I played my first-ever Jackbox games with the other SPS interns and learned that I am not a good liar! I’m excited to get to know my fellow interns better, both at SPS and NASA.

Finally, it would feel insincere to omit what has been on my mind all week, namely the ongoing protests against police brutality taking place across the country and around the world. I have been sending my thoughts and donations to these activists and organizations, and I will continue to do so. Along with my scientific goals for this summer, I aim to better educate myself on the racial inequalities in this country.

Anna Murphree