Dr. Jose D. Fuentes

Jose D. Fuentes is a Professor of Meteorology at Penn State University (http://www.met.psu.edu/people/juf15).  He has a Ph.D. in micrometeorology from the University of Guelph.  His research interests are in boundary layer meteorology, turbulence in stable atmosphere, biosphere-atmosphere interactions, and Arctic chemistry and boundary layer dynamics.  He is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, the American Meteorological Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Interviews

2024

Dr. Jose Fuentes shares his remarkable journey from El Salvador to Canada, highlighting the challenges and triumphs he encountered along the way. Born in El Salvador, José grew up in a small village, where he worked tirelessly to pursue his education despite facing political turmoil and oppression. After witnessing the closure of universities by military dictators and experiencing personal threats, José was compelled to seek refuge in the United States. Through determination and assistance from the Catholic Church, he secured a fellowship to study meteorology at Millersville University. José’s commitment to education and activism eventually led him to Canada, where he reunited with his family and built a new life. Despite enduring hardships, José’s resilience and perseverance enabled him to overcome adversity and thrive in his academic and personal pursuits. Today, he reflects on his journey with gratitude for the opportunities he has been afforded and remains dedicated to advocating for social justice and environmental sustainability.

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In spring 2022, Dr. Paul Shepson and his team will conduct a field campaign on Alaska’s North Slope called “Cha-Cha.” They will study the chemical reactions in the Arctic snowpack when exposed to sunlight, which releases halogens into the atmosphere. These halogens have harmful effects on the ozone layer and impact the Arctic ecosystem. Using advanced instruments on two airplanes, the team will quantify the halogen species in the atmosphere and investigate the composition of particles and cloud water. This research aims to understand the role of sea salt particles from open ocean leads in atmospheric composition and the changing Arctic climate.

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Dr. Jose Fuentes describes his experience traveling to Alert, located in the province of Nunavut, Canada. He expresses awe at the breathtaking beauty of the Arctic landscape, especially when viewed from the Hercules planes during the journey. Upon arrival at Alert, he is struck by the pristine environment and reflects on the importance of preserving such natural beauty for future generations. Jose emphasizes the significance of protecting Earth’s environment, highlighting the Arctic as a particularly special place that holds a special place in his heart.

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Dr. Jose Fuentes shares his journey into Arctic research, revealing that his interest in climate science dates back to the 1980s when he studied the deposition of pollutants into forested ecosystems during his PhD. After joining Environment Canada, he became connected to Arctic research through colleagues who made significant discoveries in the region. Inspired by his undergraduate advisor’s prediction that he would excel in teaching, Jose sought teaching positions, eventually coming to the United States. It was through connections with colleagues like Paul Shepson and Yan Bottenheim that Jose became involved in Arctic research expeditions, starting with a polar experiment in May 2000. Since then, he has continued to contribute to Arctic research.

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Dr. Jose Fuentes reflects on the motivations driving scientists, emphasizing the desire for discovery and knowledge as well as the application of that knowledge for the betterment of society and the planet. He stresses that personal wealth isn’t a driving factor in scientific endeavors, but rather the pursuit of understanding and improving the world we live in. Paul Shepson adds that many scientists undergo a transformation, becoming more than just researchers but also advocates for the Earth and its ecosystems, especially as they witness the impacts of climate change firsthand. They discuss the profound changes occurring in the Arctic, highlighting the rapid decline in perennial ice cover over the past few decades and the urgent need for action to preserve the planet for future generations.

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Dr. Jose Fuentes discusses his research experiences during expeditions to the Arctic, highlighting various projects aimed at understanding the atmosphere’s dynamics and pollutant interactions. He describes setting up flux towers to study pollutant absorption by snowpacks, conducting balloon measurements to assess ozone depletion, and investigating the impact of water channels on atmospheric thermodynamics. These studies reveal crucial insights into feedback mechanisms and climate processes not yet fully accounted for in climate models, emphasizing the ongoing need for scientific exploration in the rapidly changing Arctic environment.

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Dr. Jose Fuentes reflects on his efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in science, particularly among underrepresented groups. He discusses his personal journey, emphasizing the importance of determination and mentorship in overcoming obstacles. Fuentes highlights the need for diverse perspectives in scientific research, encouraging young students to pursue their goals with confidence and seek out mentors who can offer guidance and support. He shares anecdotes from his own experiences, underscoring the resilience needed to navigate challenges and the importance of believing in oneself despite skepticism or negativity from others. Ultimately, Fuentes emphasizes the transformative power of determination, mentorship, and a commitment to inclusion in shaping the future of scientific discovery and innovation.

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