UNC Faculty Scholar Awarded Fulbright Grant

Lucinda “Cindy” Shellito will head to Ecuador to collaborate on climate analysis, modeling and curriculum development

Shellito, pictured here at a glacier in Southern Iceland, was awarded a Fulbright grant to study and teach in Ecuador.

University of Northern Colorado faculty scholar Lucinda "Cindy" Shellito has been awarded a Fulbright grant to study and teach Andean climate and weather in Ecuador, a country with a diverse ecological landscape that's highly sensitive to climate variability and change.

The associate professor of Meteorology will collaborate with colleagues at the University of Cuenca in developing new weather and climate curriculum there connected to research. As part of that research, she will analyze data collected from the university's new observation stations just outside of Cuenca to better understand weather and cycles of climate change in the high-altitude Andes. She will also establish a partnership between UNC and the University of Cuenca.

Shellito's Fulbright project begins in 2015. From February through July, she will teach two semester-long courses covering meteorology, weather forecasting and climatology.

"The courses will complement the university's existing offerings in Andean hydrology and ecology," she said, noting that no meteorology courses are taught there.

She will also collaborate on a field course in mountain weather. Students in the courses will collect and analyze archived local weather data, which will be analyzed along with data from satellites and numerical weather models to support understanding of short-term climate variations in the Andes — a rainfall dependent region affected by El Niño weather patterns and long-term warming shifts.

"We want to better understand the dynamics of atmospheric motion and take the data collected and put it in context of circulation patterns in the world and mountains in general," Shellito said. In the classroom, Shellito said she will incorporate her teaching philosophy of "science through inquiry and helping students understand science by doing science."

The Fulbright Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is the U.S. government's flagship international exchange program. For a list of UNC faculty awarded Fulbright grants over the years, visit www.unco.edu/provost/awards/fulbright.html.

"Her endeavors in Ecuador will open new pathways for future international research and educational endeavors, as well as building the reputation of the university internationally," said Ellen Meyer Gregg, acting dean of UNC's College of Natural and Health Sciences.