Graduate Student Ambassadors

Graduate student, Lydia SpychallaName: Lydia Spychalla,
Undergrad Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Undergrad Major: Physics

Hi! I’m a second-year graduate student here at Penn State. I’m working with Dr. Matt Kumjian to create an idealized hail growth model that can help us understand the controls on hail growth from a very simple perspective. I came to Penn State knowing that I wanted to work with Dr. Kumjian and because I was excited about the adventure of moving somewhere outside the Midwest. I’ve loved the supportive and close-knit culture here in the Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science! Since I came from a background outside of atmospheric science, I was unsure of how starting a graduate program in meteorology would go, but the people at Penn State have been so encouraging and supporting. Even though the department here is large (in Atmospheric Science terms), the professors and administrators value us all as individuals, and there’s an incredibly supportive atmosphere among the students. State College is a neat town with a large variety of restaurants, coffee shops and breweries for its size. It’s very bikeable with lots of farmer’s markets and local festivals. I’d love to talk to you if you are interested in Penn State and want to hear more about the student experience!


Ana BolivarName:  Ana Bolivar,
Undergrad Institution: Florida International University
Undergrad Major: Atmospheric Science

Hi! My name is Ana Bolivar. I am a second-year graduate student working with Dr. Colin Zarzycki on assessing model representation of landfalling tropical cyclones. I eventually plan to extend my research into future simulations and investigate changes in frequency, location and intensity of sequential landfall events. I chose to come to Penn State for many reasons, but chiefly because of the meteorology program's great reputation (although, coming from Miami, FL, I wanted to live in a place where I could actually experience all four seasons). Living through winter took some adjustment, but I love it here in State College: It's equal parts peaceful and bustling, there's lots of nature around, and you're not too far from several major cities if you want a change of pace. What makes this program truly special, however, are the amazing students, faculty, and administration who do everything in their power to help you succeed. I've gained so much confidence in my abilities since I started here last year. If you'd like to know more about life in State College, the grad student experience at Penn State, or just to chat, please don't hesitate to reach out!


Luke LebelName: Luke LeBel,
Undergrad Institution: University of Albany
Undergrad Major: Atmospheric Science

Hello! I’m a second-year graduate student, and I am working with Dr. Paul Markowski on a research project examining the factors controlling the formation of thunderstorms. I chose to attend Penn State for graduate school because of the excellent research opportunities with Dr. Markowski and in the Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science as a whole. I have already had the chance to take interesting classes in a variety of topics, and am excited for new research and learning experiences in the coming semesters. It has been a pleasure getting to know the other graduate students, and I feel proud and comforted to be a part of the Penn State meteorology community. I have additionally really enjoyed living in State College, and have made frequent visits to the numerous beautiful hiking trails and parks in the area. I am excited to spend several more years in central Pennsylvania as I pursue my Ph.D.! I would be more than happy to help answer questions about what makes this community and program special. Feel free to reach out!


Kyle NardiName: Kyle Nardi,
Prior Institutions: Temple University (B.S.), Colorado State University (M.S.)
B.S./M.S. Major: Applied Mathematics / Atmospheric Science

I’m a Ph.D. student in Dr. Colin Zarzycki’s group and I study the prediction of extreme weather phenomena. Penn State was a top destination for me because of the department’s rich tradition of research in meteorology and atmospheric science. The department features a wide variety of research disciplines, so there are always opportunities to learn new things from a faculty that’s very open to engaging with students. Owing to the department’s long history, there’s also a large and accomplished alumni network that makes having a Penn State degree mean something to employers. Finally, State College is a beautiful town nestled in the Appalachian Mountains, with opportunities for outdoor recreation, shopping, and nightlife.