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Islander Graduate Student Earns Internship with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

May 31, 2016

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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Islander graduate student Thomas “Tommy” Winning Jr. landed the internship of a lifetime to work with NASA scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), a federally-funded research and development center managed by Caltech. Winning, who hopes to complete his Ph.D. in Coastal and Marine System Science in 2018 at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, will participate in a 10-week summer internship program from June 6 to August 12 in Pasadena, Calif.

The internship is one of the most popular, highly sought and competitive programs JPL has to offer. Students must be in excellent academic standing and have a research interest matching a JPL supervisor’s project goal.

“The opportunity came as a surprise to me,” said Winning. “In the past, I had applied for a couple other internships and they didn't work out, so having gone through the process, there is a sense of validation to get accepted. I am really looking forward to it.”

Under the supervision of his JPL mentor, Dr. Chi Ao from the Ionospheric and Atmospheric Remote Sensing Group, Winning’s project is titled as “Planetary Boundary Layer Height from GPS Radio Occultation.”  The project will involve analyzing satellite and in-situ measurements of the bottom layer of the atmosphere, also called planetary boundary layer, which plays a significant role in climate, weather and air quality research.

“My primary work is boundary layer remote sensing, which is what I’ll be working on at JPL,” said Winning. “It means a lot to me personally because I have immersed myself with these studies since my time as a master's student at the University of Hawaii. Some of the papers that I read to learn the science were written by my current supervisor, Dr. Feiqin Xie, and Dr. Ao, who I will be working with at JPL.”

Winning became acquainted with Dr. Xie, Assistant Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, after finding a posting for a Ph.D. research assistantship at TAMU-CC. After realizing the research described in the posting was a good match with his master’s thesis research, Winning exchanged emails and a phone conversation with Xie. Xie has provided Winning valuable aid and mentoring in the areas of computer programming, large data analysis and a deeper understanding of satellite remote sensing.

In addition to one-on-one instruction and supervision, the JPL internship will provide Winning with a unique educational experience that will help him develop new skills through hands-on applications. Winning will also receive a stipend of $800 a week to cover the cost of living in the Los Angeles area, travel costs and any education incidentals incurred.