Shop Windows to the Universe

Please help support Windows to the Universe, and our activities to help Earth and space science teachers, with a tax-exempt donation today!
Photo of Robert Wood, a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington
Image Courtesy of Robert Wood

Dr. Robert Wood

My interest in understanding how the Earth System works started back when I was studying for my undergraduate degree in physics. I took a class in geophysics in which we detonated small explosive devices buried in the ground and then we “listened” to the sound waves that bounced back off different layers under the Earth. I was amazed by the way we could determine the internal structure of the Earth without actually digging.

I received a BA in physics at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. After this I moved back to the north of England where I was born and raised, and got a job working as a checkout clerk at a supermarket in Manchester. It was a far cry from science but a great education in culture. But my interest in science didn't go away, so I applied for graduate school, knowing only that I wanted to do “something in the area of geosciences.” I ended up being enticed into atmospheric sciences by my Ph.D. advisor during a visit to the University of Manchester.

For my PhD work, I spent two years calibrating and testing a system to measure winds from a light aircraft, and then spent a year making measurements of sea-breeze fronts and atmospheric gravity waves. This ignited my interest in airborne research, and I have never looked back since then.

Since completing my PhD, I have worked in a couple of places. My first position was at the United Kingdom Meteorological Office in the Met Research Flight, where I studied the microphysical properties of clouds, and currently I am at the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle. I originally intended to work in the United States for just a short time, but I quickly became involved in numerous collaborations and found the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at UW to be a great environment for my research. It was at UW that I got interested in the southeast Pacific climate system using a new dataset that had just been collected. So I never left Seattle, and eventually I became an Assistant Professor (my current position). My research interests focus upon the physics of clouds, how they form rain, and their role in the Earth's climate system. I also teach several classes in atmospheric sciences.

In Seattle I also met my wife Socorro, who was then a graduate student. Socorro is from Mexico, so I have spent some time learning Spanish. This is also proving to be useful for VOCALS and for my interest in traveling (especially in Latin America ). My other interests are playing guitar, cooking, dancing, movies, and reading.

Last modified August 27, 2008 by Becca Hatheway.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Learn about Earth and space science, and have fun while doing it! The games section of our online store includes a climate change card game and the Traveling Nitrogen game!

Windows to the Universe Community



You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

End of an Exciting Flight

This photograph was taken at the end of the first C-130 flight sampling Pocket of Open Cells (POCs) regions within the stratus clouds that are more open. They have interested cloud scientists because it...more


Communication is an integral part of large scale science projects like VOCALS. It started years ago between people from the various institutions involved, via long distance phone calls and many, many emails....more

Discussion Among Scientists

Scientists are often portrayed as the silent type. Quite to the contrary, much of what we do involves discussion, such as this exchange between Robert Wood (University of Washington) and Jeff French (University...more

Rhea George

Many students in atmospheric science were motivated to enter the field by some fascinating extreme weather event experienced as a child. This was not the case with me. When I was an undergraduate I was...more

Dr. Boris Dewitte

I'm a physical oceanographer interested in climate variability and especially the El Niño phenomenon. Other than the annual cyle of the seasons, El Niño is the largest pulsation of the climate. I'm interested...more

Dr. Paquita Zuidema

Hola! I am originally from the Netherlands and thereafter spent 3 years as a child in the Peruvian Andes, but I have lived most of my life in the United States. I received my bachelor's degree in physics...more

Lelia Hawkins

I am starting my fourth year of graduate school at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, studying atmospheric chemistry and climate science. I love earth science and have always wanted to do something...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA