Climatologist - Lesley-Ann L. Dupigny-Giroux
Field: Climatology (Geography)
Job Title: Vermont State Climatologist,
Associate Professor of Geography
Place of Employment: University of Vermont,
What is your current job and what does it entail?
I am currently an Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Vermont,
and the Vermont State Climatologist.
In addition to teaching courses on climatology, remote sensing, GIS (Geographic
Information Systems) and natural hazards, I also research land-surface interactions
(e.g. the effects of drought, flooding and severe storms on natural vegetation)
in Vermont and New England. As State Climatologist, I provide local expertise
on climate related issues.
In your day-to-day activities, who are the people that you interact with regularly?
My daily interactions are with students (K-12 and at the university level),
foresters, soil scientists, planners, legislators, hydrologists, GIS professionals,
and the public.
For your position, what skills do you need in geospatial technologies?
Most of the geospatial training I use involves interpreting remotely sensed
imagery for determining vegetation stress, as well as digital elevation modeling
for looking at topographic influences of storm patterns and tracks.
For your position, what skills outside of geospatial technologies are required?
Other skills include climate data analysis and interpretation, and the archival
analysis of historical climate records.
What was the key factor in your career decision?
I became a physical geographer because I wanted to delve into the dynamics
that drive atmospheric processes in different climates, as well as the ways in
which these fluctuate over time.
What do you like most about your career?
The highlight of my career would be the excitement of uncovering the untapped
research potential in applying geospatial technologies to examine climate interactions
in Vermont and New England.
What do you like least about your career?
One of the ongoing challenges is that until recently, GIS was not able to
adequately handle the four dimensions (including time) typically used by atmospheric
scientists. This meant using other ways of analyzing storm systems and their
effects on the landscape.
What do you do to relax?
I like hiking.
Who are your heroes/heroines?
I admire strong men and women who have used their talents to make a difference
in the lives of those around them.
What advice would you give a high school student who expressed an interest
in pursuing a career in your field?
My advice to a student interested in geography would be to start exploring
his/her natural aptitudes from an early stage as a way of honing in on what to
pursue at the postsecondary level. I would also recommend seeking out a good
mentor to guide his/her career choices and who could be a positive role model.
In terms of academics, I would suggest taking mathematics, physics and related
classes in addition to geography courses—if they are offered. Finally,
extracurricular internships are a great way to gain "hands-on" experience
while discovering what direction you would like to pursue.
Are career opportunities in your field increasing or decreasing and why?
Career opportunities in the field of spatial climate (the application of geospatial
technologies to climate problems) are expanding rapidly, with new tools being
developed every year, accompanied by an increasing recognition of the usefulness
of these tools to explore both spatial AND temporal questions.
Physical Geography & Development Studies
University of Toronto
Climatology & Hydrology
Climatology & Remote Sensing