CW3E Welcomes Luke Odell

November 23, 2020

Luke Odell joined CW3E as a postdoctoral researcher, specializing in mesoscale dynamics and modeling, in November 2020. Luke received his Ph.D. in atmospheric science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison under the supervision of Professor Gregory Tripoli, and BSc. and MSc. in meteorology and environmental science from the University of Leeds in the U.K., under the supervision of Professor Peter Knippertz.

His Ph.D. research focused primarily on supercell thunderstorm dynamics, particularly processes involved in torrnadogenesis, from a theoretical and numerical modeling perspective. For his doctoral dissertation, Luke applied fluid dynamics theory to develop new parameters for describing and evaluating flow instabilities and vorticity evolution associated with tornadogenesis. Utilizing these parameters in the context of real-world and idealized mesoscale numerical model simulations of supercells, he developed new conceptual understanding of the physical process of tornadogenesis. Luke was an invited panelist at the ‘17th cyclone workshop’ as a result of this work.

While his Ph.D. research focused on supercells, Luke has a comprehensive understanding of fluid dynamics, relating to turbulence and instability, and a broad range of atmospheric dynamics from the misoscale to the synoptic scale. His master’s research used the WRF model to investigate rapid cyclogenesis of the Braer storm over the North Atlantic in early 1993. This study culminated in the David Kay award for academic excellence of a master’s thesis and a first-author publication. Luke has recently applied his combined knowledge to a wide range of atmospheric scales, to study atmospheric instabilities and energy transfer associated with tropical cyclones, extra-tropical cyclogenesis and atmospheric river development.

Luke taught a number of undergraduate courses as a TA during his Ph.D., including ‘introduction to weather and climate’, ‘introduction to atmospheric physics’, and ‘mesoscale meteorology’. He also instructed graduate level thermodynamics and developed and ran a high-school ALP summer course in atmospheric science. Luke received several awards for his teaching, including the atmospheric and oceanic sciences ‘Wahl award’, the ‘university housing teaching award’ and was nominated for a school of Letters and Science teaching award.

At CW3E, Luke will focus on evaluating and improving mesoscale model performance of short- duration, high-intensity precipitation events in western North America alongside Drs. Nina Oakley and Forest Cannon. His work will involve theoretical advancements in our understanding of the atmospheric dynamics associated with atmospheric rivers, which will be applied to study model performance and sensitivities to these events, with the aim to improve forecasting accuracy of precipitation extremes in the western United States.

Besides science, Luke previously cofounded a financial start-up that led to $125,000 investment and a mobile payments application. Through this, he became heavily involved in the emerging cryptoasset space. Luke has an acute passion for storm chasing in the central Plains and has been featured on several storm chasing documentaries. He enjoys traveling, soccer and all forms of outdoor activity.