As we move into the next century, one of the biggest challenges and opportunities AMS will face is how to engage, inspire, and empower young professionals. It is critical that AMS engages them in all aspects of our Society, inspiring them to be innovative thinkers who are empowered to express ideas. They need to know their ideas are valued and affirmed. Thus, AMS must encourage the next generation of leaders to be confident and take ownership of our professional society. As a Council member, I would help AMS do this by connecting with members of our community to establish organic, long-lasting relationships through mentoring and outreach and by encouraging participation and volunteerism by early-career members in all aspects of the Society’s mission.
Another challenge for AMS is to strengthen the engagement of women and minorities, ensuring our Society reflects the demographics of our nation. It is imperative that our Society is diverse and inclusive and that members have a sense of ownership. The integration of fresh ideas will make a better, stronger AMS. We need to evaluate how we want to look in the future in order to create an inclusive community—a community that values and affirms all. AMS has made great strides in celebrating our varied skills, ideas, and talents. If elected, I would continue this philosophy and help tackle these challenges. It would be an honor to serve, helping to address the challenges and opportunities we face as a Society.
Melissa A. Burt is a research scientist in the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University. Her research focuses on the interactions of Arctic clouds, radiation, and sea ice, with interests ranging from cloud–radiation feedbacks, to hydrological and energy cycles in climate, to climate change feedbacks. She has authored or coauthored publications in atmospheric science and diversity and education. She has published in journals including BAMS, the Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, the Journal of Climate, EOS, PLOS One, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Burt also serves as the education and diversity manager in the Walter Scott Jr. College of Engineering and Department of Atmospheric Science. In this role, she is working to enhance understanding of global climate through K–12, undergraduate, and graduate study as well as informal education and to the broader public. Burt is committed to improving and increasing diversity in STEM by designing programs to encourage participation and increase access and retention for members of historically underrepresented groups. Previously she was the education and diversity manager for the NSF Science and Technology Center for Multi-scale Modeling of Atmospheric Processes. During this time, she had a tremendous track record of recruiting diverse students into a highly competitive, inclusive, and supportive Research Experience for Undergraduates Program at Colorado State University and supporting them as they matriculated into graduate school.
Burt received her B.S. degree in meteorology from Millersville University of Pennsylvania and her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in atmospheric science from Colorado State University.
Burt has been very active in diversity and inclusion activities within AMS and beyond. She was a member of the AMS Board on Women and Minorities and served as chair from 2014 to 2016. She also serves on the board of directors for the nonprofit organization, the Earth Science Women’s Network (ESWN). ESWN is an international peer-mentoring network of women in the Earth sciences, many of whom are in the early stages of their careers. Their mission is to promote career development, build community, provide opportunities for informal mentoring and support, and facilitate professional collaborations.