Featured DRI Graduate Students

Tom Malamakal, Nov. 2012 Featured DRI Graduate Student

Meet Tom Malamakal, a second year student of the Atmospheric Sciences graduate program, whose focus has been on monitoring the influence of wildfires and prescribed burns in and around the Lake Tahoe basin.

What brought you to DRI?

Tom Malamakal collecting information about air quality in the Lake Tahoe Basin.Tom Malamakal collecting information about air quality in the Lake Tahoe Basin.Luck and Dr. Michael Kaplan; an engaging and dynamic researcher and teacher to whom I am very grateful.

Before coming to DRI, I worked as part of a research group at the University of Washington conducting remote air monitoring at the summit of Mt. Bachelor near Bend, Oregon.  The research conducted at the station strongly influenced my interest in atmospheric chemical composition, transport and impact assessment.

The research interests and capabilities of DRI’s Environmental Analysis Facility (EAF) led by Dr. Judith Chow and Dr. John Watson reflected my own interests.  EAF was an opportunity to gain deeper understanding of atmospheric processes and chemical impact assessment as well as an opportunity to work with internationally recognized scientists.

What are you studying? What research projects are you working on? And who at DRI are you working with?

Taking measurements of gas and particle emission from a prescribed burn.Taking measurements of gas and particle emission from a prescribed burn.I am a second year graduate student studying atmospheric science.  My primary project has been monitoring the influence of wildfires and prescribed burns in and around Lake Tahoe basin.  I work on synthesizing data from chemically speciated source and ambient measurements and determining the zone of influence by dispersion modeling.

My advisor is Dr. Antony Chen, an expert in emissions source apportionment and receptor modeling.

What are your short-term and long-term goals while at DRI?

Simply put, my short term goal is to graduate and my long term goal is to learn as much as I can.  DRI is a vanguard for Earth Ecosystems Science with incredible opportunities to observe the natural world.

Tell us about yourself. What do you do for fun?

The team.  From left: Steven Gronstal, Antony Chen, Xiaoliang Wang, Tom Malamakal. The team. From left: Steven Gronstal, Antony Chen, Xiaoliang Wang, Tom Malamakal. I’m a bit of a geek out on weather, clouds, radiative transfer, particle morphology, chemical composition, among other things…

Outside is where I like to be.  Having a cup of coffee and getting started on a sustained hand crack early in the morning is one of my favorite things to do.

I like to read a lot.  For some reason, I am into biographies at the moment.  I recently finished reading a fictional biography of the renaissance artist Michaelangelo Bunnaroti written by Irving Stone and I am just starting the biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.

What problem in the world troubles you most? And if given the chance and unlimited resources, how would you solve it?

We only have one planet to live on and we all share the same space.  The global activities of humans affect Earth Ecosystems and in turn affect health and quality of life.  I believe we as a civilization must find a metric to adequately personalize and appropriate the costs associated with environmental change driven by the consumption of competitively priced unsustainable goods;  but since in this scenario I have unlimited resources maybe I’ll do something like terra-form Mars and outsource the pollution on Earth.

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