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  • Writer's pictureIce in Motion

Meet the team: Nirni Kumar

Nirni was one of the lead scientists with the CODA project aboard the Sikuliaq.

He is a wiz at translating raw data into climate models. He is also a tough ping pong opponent, especially on a rolling ship!

Background questions

1. Where did you grow up? Where do you live now?

Ranchi, India (small town in east India).

Now – Seattle, WA

2. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to join the armed forces (army/air-force)

3. Do you have any pets? If so, tell us about them – breed, name, age, personality quirks…

My Yorkshire Terrior, Boris, 3 yrs, will cuddle up on your lap

4. Who is someone you admire and why?

Scientists: Steve Lentz and John Trowbridge, extremely knowledgeable

Others: Marla Stone, terrific technician, good human being

5. Write a haiku to describe your work (3 lines with 5, 7 and 5 syllables respectively)

Beaufort Sea is shallow and deep

Waves and winds keep it steep

Let’s make it walk the ramp!

A few Science questions

1. What is your title? What would you say you do here?

Assistant Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering, UW

I conduct research, mentor graduate students and postdocs, teach classes…

2. What motivated you to choose this particular field?

Trial and error I guess. I never knew I wanted to be a marine scientist (didn’t even grow up close to a water body). I hated ship designing so much in college, so I gradually migrated to coastal engineering and then coastal oceanography.

3. How many years have you been studying or working in this field?

13 years

4. What’s the best part of your work?

I would think being able to convince someone else (e.g., a student) that what we are doing is cool, and then they change their goals to pursue something similar post-graduation

5. What are the main challenges you face in your work?

1. Communicating expectations with colleagues/students

2. Work-life balance

3. Slowly transitioning from scientist to a manager of projects

6. What is one aspect of your work that you think the public should know more about?

I would have to answer honestly. I do science for fun. Sometimes I will work on a problem or paper just because it is intellectually stimulating to me.

7. If you could know the definitive answer to one question in your field, what would that question be?

Don’t know the question, but the answer is 42.

8. What are 3 things you’ve learned so far on this trip (could be related or unrelated to your work)?

Throw up early, throw up often

Shipek (sediment grabber) will take your blood, sweat, tears and part of your soul

Polar bears will kill you and eat you, not necessarily in that order

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