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Taylor Miller Researches Impact of Space Weather

October 2019

Taylor Miller C'2020Taylor Miller, C’2020, spent the past two summers studying how life on Earth is impacted by the effects of space weather as part of her participation in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Educational Partnership Program. The program provides financial support and research opportunities for students at minority-serving institutions majoring in STEM fields that directly support NOAA's mission.

“NOAA is important and well known for monitoring our climate and environment, along with taking steps to preserve them while protecting people and property,” Miller said.

This summer she conducted research at the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory -- National Centers for Environmental Information in Boulder, Colorado to investigate the relationship between space weather and geomagnetic activity to marine mammals that beach themselves.

“Geomagnetic effects are known to disturb certain species such as pigeons, yet these effects on marine animals’ geomagnetic navigation senses are not very well known. My findings thus far have been promising and show that there could be a connection,” said Miller.

Marta Dark McNeese, Ph.D., Spelman College associate professor of physics, says only about five percent of women physics graduates are Black and Spelman appears to be the number two producer of Black women who have bachelor's degrees in physics.  Fortunately, there is a desire to provide more diversity in this field. “Groups composed of people with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and areas of expertise tend to be more creative and innovative,” McNeese said. “Scientific progress relies on collaboration.”

Miller will present her work at the American Meteorological Society’s 100th Annual AMS Conference 2020 in Boston in January. “NOAA EPP and Spelman have helped to shape my future career goals in pursuing a graduate degree in solar physics as I always strive to involve the impacts my research topics and academic pursuits will have on human life,” said Miller. “Thanks to the program, I have been able to explore various opportunities made available to me with a degree in physics.”