CESTEMER Speaker Spotlight: Becky DePodwin

What makes the CESTEMER community unique are all of the outstanding participants who boldly cross disciplinary lines in their work, while creating and sharing all of the fun that can be along the way. Here we highlight many of these individuals with the CESTEMER Speaker Spotlights Series, where we’ve asked presenters from CESTEMER 17 and CESTEMER 19 to answer a few questions about what excites them about our community and the intersection with their passions.

What drew you to become involved with CESTEMER?

Becky DePodwin

I had the opportunity to take part in an Improv Science course led by Raquell Holmes as part of a leadership academy. It was with a group of 40 relative strangers. A diverse set of scientists from different sectors in the weather industry. Within minutes of the activity beginning, people were laughing, talking, actively engaged, getting to know one another in an entirely unique way- through play. Meteorologists tend to be a pretty serious bunch. Our forecasts can mean life or death and that’s something that often weighs heavily on us. To be given the opportunity, the instruction to be silly, to do things that weren’t necessarily logical, to laugh hysterically, was an opportunity welcomed and embraced wholeheartedly by the cohort. It showed us a different side of our colleagues, a side not usually seen in most adults, much less a bunch of serious scientists who just met one another. When we are allowed to let go of decorum & expectations, we find ourselves opening up in unexpected ways, to not just others, but ourselves as well. When our minds are open, we are better able to foster an atmosphere of collaboration and curiosity through which ideas flow freely.

Since that experience, I have searched for ways to step outside the rigidity of daily tasks and connect with those around me in more playful manner.

What are you most excited about experiencing CESTEMER in June?

I am excited to be surrounded by a diverse group of people that I can learn from in a fun and unique way that forces me out of my comfort zone and into a space that is different from any space I’ve been in previously. I’m hoping to discover new ways of engaging in meaningful interactions that I can bring back to the committees I serve on and utilize at future events. I believe the CESTEMER conference, and the chance to connect with many people from across numerous disciplines will allow for a broadening of perspective regarding leadership, peer mentoring, and community engagement. I’m also very much interested in seeing different types & styles of presentations and hope to come away with lots of ideas on breaking away from the “death by power point” presentation style that is so often the norm at scientific conferences.

What are some ways people can get connected to you and your work?

I am very active on Twitter (@wx_becks) and use that as my main form of communication with the world, both professionally and personally. I discuss weather, emergency management, crisis and risk communication, and perhaps most importantly, I share an open dialogue about my mental health journey. This includes an open dialogue about my diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder, my struggle with Imposter Syndrome, how certain aspects of being a meteorologist can have a negative impact on one’s mental health, and what we can do as individuals to provide understanding, empathy, and support to others when needed. I also post a lot about nature and life with my husband and two tuxedo cats.

I have written a few blogs on Medium about my mental health and am currently co-authoring a paper on Imposter Syndrome in Meteorology. The links to the blog (and paper, once published), are available on my Twitter.

I am also part of several podcasts. I co-host In The Elements, a podcast that looks at weather events through the human lens, as well as tell the story of those willing to share their experience with shift work, forecasting deadly weather disasters, living through traumatic events, and how they cope. Ice Station Housman is a podcast of the silly kind. We discuss the weather and all its nuances in a mostly funny, curious way. Lastly, I am one of two meteorology experts on the Disaster Podcast, a podcast that discusses all things related to disasters, emergency management, and first responders.

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