Tornadoes form from the top to the ground, right? Think again.
An Ohio University Meteorology professor’s recent research says otherwise. Dr. Jana Houser has uncovered data that supports the theory that tornadoes form from the ground up. Her findings have made national news, however some of the people she has inspired most are closer to home, here in Athens, Ohio.
Her study used rapid scanning radar to investigate how tornadoes’ rotation evolves with time and height.
“What we were trying to determine was whether or not the rotation that forms the tornado occurs higher up in the middle levels of the storm, or lower to the ground,” Houser said.
The study found strong rotation at low levels or very close to the ground first. Advancements in radar technology have played a large role in these findings.
Houser’s intriguing study quickly gained both local and national media attention. Her research was featured in major outlets such as The Washington Post, CBS News, Live Science, and the Weather Channel.
Her research wasn’t only a groundbreaking national scientific discovery, but also advancement for Ohio University’s Meteorology program. Meteorology student Adrianna Davies believes that this study is beneficial to the community of Athens, Ohio.
“Her research is putting Ohio University on the map for Meteorology," she said. "She’s getting national attention and this is amazing for our program here. “
Ohio isn’t necessarily known for their tornado science, so what brought tornado specialist Jana Houser to the small town of Athens, Ohio? She said it’s the students.
While she is passionate about her research, she is equally as passionate about being a teacher.
“I really liked the balance that Ohio seemed to imply between teaching and research,” she said.
Houser wanted to make sure she was at an institution that valued teaching just as much as the research. Her dedication in the classroom is evident to her students. Dr. Houser’s extensive knowledge in Meteorology and passion towards her teaching enables her to be highly respected by her students.
The mutual respect between Houser and her students is further displayed as she was awarded the 2019 University Professor Award, which recognizes excellence in teaching at Ohio University, voted on by students.
“I am deeply touched and honored that my students hold me to the high regard of being worthy of this award. It is the students who truly make a difference in my teaching ability, who challenge me, and who motivate me to become better.” Houser said in an interview with Ohio University Compass.
Meteorology student, Ben Baucco says her passion and success in the field has helped his learning immensely.
“It’s very beneficial that she’s so knowledgeable on the whole entire subject of Meteorology. Whenever I have a question, I know I can go to her office for help,” Baucco explained.
Davies said her understanding of these storms has greatly improved because of Houser’s passion for meteorology. Houser’s students are excited about their professor’s success.
“She puts so much time and effort into her research and it’s paying off. She’s changing the meteorological world and she’s like our own little OU celebrity.” Davies said.
Houser is collaborating with the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism faculty to grow the meteorology program and add a broadcast meteorology track.
“I think she’s indirectly recruiting some strong future meteorologists!” Davies said.
Houser has been able to continue her study of the Oklahoma tornadoes in Athens, Ohio because of her close work relationships.
“I have a really positive working relationship with my PHD advisor who has allowed me to have access to data I collected as a student at Oklahoma.” Houser said.