The GEMS Board is currently holding elections for a representative for the Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science (METEO). Please review the candidate statements and choose one (1) candidate to serve on the GEMS Board of Directors for the next 3 years.
If you are a current GEMS member (member of the Penn State Alumni Association) we welcome your vote. After reviewing the ballot statements of the candidates below, please place your vote. Voting will be available from Monday, May 23 to Friday, June 3, 2022.
Trisha Fehlinger Mikita
B.S. Meteorology, 2000
About Trisha Fehlinger Mikita
Trisha is currently the vice president of content at AccuWeather, Inc., where she develops programming structure and strategy for a 24/7 linear broadcast network and oversees all content initiatives across all platforms and formats. She also serves on the Penn State Alumni Association's Alumni Council and Executive Board while continuing to mentor current students of the Penn State community and in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.
Tricia's personal statement:
“From academics to life-long relationships, it is our people that make the difference at Penn State. Helping people is what drives me, as a mentor to Penn State students, in my leadership role at AccuWeather, and in serving as your Penn State Alumni Council representative.
I am a proud lifetime Penn State Alumni Association member. I’ve had the honor of serving on the Penn State Alumni Council since 2017 as an elected member and I have been constantly looking to advance the awareness and visibility of Penn State while connecting with fellow alumni. I have learned so much about the association and Penn State over the last three years and believe I have more to offer.
Penn State has equipped me with strategic thinking and hands-on learning skills to make a difference. Today, as vice president of content at AccuWeather – a weather media company with global headquarters in State College - I oversee the company’s network, digital media editorial, and video content creation.
If allowed to run and serve, I will continue to bring my expertise in strategy development, cross-functional team leadership, and social and digital media to strengthen the alumni volunteer impact. An energetic champion and advocate for Penn Staters and their expansive alumni network, I will help to deepen and extend our ties globally. We are a powerful network. We are successful thought-leaders. We are Penn State.”
Tricia resides in State College, Pennsylvania.
Dakota C. Smith
B.S. Meteorology, 2014
About Dakota C. Smith
Dakota is currently a satellite analyst and communicator at the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA) where he creates satellite animations for various news and media organizations. He also maintains CIRA’s Twitter and Loop of the Day pages. As a visiting research scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Dakota aids in climate adaptation initiatives by researching urban vulnerability to climate change.
Dakota's personal statement:
“The College of Earth and Mineral Sciences' faculty, staff, students, and alumni are a community that I care deeply about. As a student, I was heavily involved in this community which culminated during my fourth year when I served as the college's Undergraduate Student Council president. During my tenure as president, I worked tirelessly to make the college a welcoming community and useful institution for all students.
My time serving as president was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life and it would be an honor to continue that service as a member of the GEMS (Graduates of Earth and Mineral Sciences) board. As a member of the GEMS board, I would be interested in serving on any of the committees; however, I would be particularly interested in serving on the Outreach Committee. The relationship between students and alumni is one that has the potential to be beneficial for all. For the students, the alumni offer a wealth of knowledge on navigating various stages of their life and career. For the alumni, it is an opportunity to give back while also learning from a new generation. A critically important aspect of this relationship is having alumni that come from diverse backgrounds who can speak from a diverse set of experiences. As a part of the Outreach Committee, I would strive to build a diverse community and ensure the relationship between students and alumni is mutually beneficial.”
Dakota resides in Berthoud, Colorado.
Meredith A. Nichols
B.S. Meteorology, 2014
About Meredith A. Nichols
Meredith is currently a scientific programmer and analyst with Science Systems and Applications, Inc. (SSAI) at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, supporting both the Data Tools and Services and Monitoring teams under the Global Modeling and Assimilation Office (GMAO). In this position, she aids in the maintenance and development of data-driven tools and climate models.
Meredith's personal statement:
“Throughout my four years in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, I led several organizations that provided me with the knowledge and skills to continue to lead as an alumna on the GEMS (Graduates of Earth and Mineral Sciences) Board. Elected Housing Chair of Irvin Hall, the college’s special living option in 2011, I also participated as a forecaster for Campus Weather Service leading to me holding the position of head of business and then president of the organization. Between 2012 and 2014, I became Secretary of the Penn State Branch of the American Meteorological Society (PSUBAMS), a dual chapter with the National Weather Association (PSUCNWA), becoming the president in 2013. I was also active at the college-level as a member of the college's Undergraduate Student Council and EMS Benefiting THON, as a dancer in 2014.
My experiences as a student in the college and Irvin Hall shaped my views on community service and I continue to serve locally as a volunteer firefighter/EMT for the Prince George’s County Fire Department and a coach for Girls on the Run (GOTR). GOTR is a girls empowerment organization that provides a curriculum to elementary middle school girls that helps them recognize and deal with emotions while achieving success in fitness by running a 5k at the end of each semester.
A good GEMS Board member is one who was involved while a student, but also stays connected to the college and has a passion for helping the next generation of EMS graduates. I am a great candidate to continue the progress the GEMS Board has made based on these qualifications and experiences.”
Meredith resides in Greenbelt, Maryland.
Michael L. Hopkins
B.S. Meteorology, 1991
About Michael L. Hopkins
Michael is currently an experienced leader of people and organizations, at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA Corps) at-sea field operations and headquarters. As an executive officer and senior advisor, Michael coaches and mentors thirty NOAA Corps officers, recruits new officers, and is responsible for awards and annual performance reviews. He also supports NOAA Diversity Equity and Inclusion efforts.
Michael's pesonal statement:
“I offer a unique perspective to the GEMS (Graduates of Earth and Mineral Sciences) Board and the Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science. For the last 30 years, I have served as a commissioned officer in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps (NOAA Corps). During this time, I have served on ships at sea and in various positions on land, collecting and using meteorologic and other environmental data. I know what it is like to collect this data in 25-foot seas in the Bering Sea. I understand the importance of this data for government, private sector businesses, and the public to make informed decisions about safety and property. I have continuously led junior officers fresh out of college for 25 of these years and am continually learning from their talents and views on the world.
As a GEMS board member, I would bring these perspectives plus decades of leadership and fiscal management skills not only to the Board but also to the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, Department of Meteorology amd Atmospheric Science, and the students. I would be honored to serve the college and department that provided me with my first leadership opportunity (president of the Campus Weather Service) and set me on the path I have followed for the last three decades. I would take full advantage of the opportunities to learn from Board members, faculty, staff, and students. I am particularly interested in hearing from the Board and students about their views and opinions on improving diversity, equity, and inclusion in the sciences and federal government”.
Michael resides in Sliver Springs, Maryland.