CHAOS Group Expectations

Welcome to the CHAOS Group!


This document provides a set of Shared Expectations to facilitate discussion and establish good working relationships in the Hill Group. It is a living, breathing document that will evolve with time, particularly with your feedback. I am hoping this provides clear and documented expectations for you as a student and me as an advisor so you can be successful in this research group. Welcome, and I look forward to working with you and helping you achieve your career goals!

What does the Hill Group Do?

In short, the Hill group focuses on the prediction and predictability of weather hazards, extending the applications of physics-based numerical weather prediction models and AI-based systems to improve our understanding and prediction of hazards that impact society. Often, we will use statistical methods and modeling tools for analysis of high-impact weather events and work to improve the methods themselves as well as the prediction of weather phenomena. Much of our work will have an operational weather forecasting slant, with direct application of tools or knowledge to aid operational forecasting. It is my goal that students in my group will gain broad experience with modeling tools, analysis techniques, and at time Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning algorithms.

Communication and meetings


Email or Teams Chat is the easiest way to connect with me. I will primarily use Microsoft Teams, Outlook, and OneDrive to communicate and share information within the group. You will have access to Teams/Microsoft products through an OU license. I will typically respond within 24 hours for an email during the week (it may be much quicker than this), but a response could be delayed 48-72 hours on the weekend or over a holiday. Please do not count on me replying to a message (email or chat) over the weekend. I may get to it, but I may not. I value the time I spend with my family and often do not work on the weekend. Equally, I do not expect YOU to work on the weekend either. Typically, chat messages should be reserved for quick and short responses, with email being used for long-form discussion or sharing of data.

One-on-one Meetings

I will reserve weekly meetings up to 1 hour dedicated to each student in the group. We can agree on a time/day at the beginning of each semester depending on our respective schedules. That time is guaranteed for you and me to meet. If you need to re-schedule a meeting, or perhaps you would prefer to meet bi-weekly, we can arrange for changes to the schedule. I will also need to reschedule from time-to-time due to travel, family emergencies, etc., as I am sure you will as well. Additionally, I have an open-door policy that affords you the opportunity to come talk to me outside of normal meeting times. If my door is open and I am not meeting with someone else, you are welcome to come in and meet with me for as long as I have available. If you are not able to find me and want to meet outside of our normal meeting time, send me an email or chat and we can find a time that works for both of us.

Most of the time your work will be in the form of data analysis or reading papers. Generally, I do not expect you to have a PPT/document/pdf-style/Jupyter notebook to show me what you have done. However, those mediums would be welcomed if you want to discuss a code bug, research plots, etc. I don’t need these items to be well-put together as long as there are clear questions or concerns that you want to discuss.

If you have done data analysis, be prepared to discuss or ask questions about: • what is the purpose of this analysis • how did you do the analysis – the data, the methods, if you used code from someone else, do you understand it and how it works? • the results you got – by showing me and explaining the graphs/figures • what your results mean • questions or problems you have encountered – you should clearly explain the problem (with pictures is best), then explain what you have tried so far to solve the problem.

If you have reviewed papers, be prepared to discuss or ask questions about: • Why did you decide to read these (e.g. you want to understand this topic, it uses a method you want to understand, etc.)? • What is the main scientific question this paper addresses? • How did the authors answer the question? (model experiments, observational data, statistical analysis?) • What are the key results of this paper? • What did you learn and how does it relate to your own work or other papers you have read? • How does it add to your overall knowledge about your research topic relative to other papers you have read and/or your general knowledge?

If you are working on writing a manuscript, conference abstract, or your thesis, be prepared to respond to: • What is your thesis statement? • How does the paper/thesis topic advance our collective knowledge? What is new? • Who is the audience of this work? • Where would you like to see improvement in the document? • If you are struggling getting started, what are your writing habits like?

Group Meetings

Occasionally, we will set up group meetings when all or most of our group can attend. Despite their formal appearance, these meetings will primarily help facilitate knowledge sharing between students in the group. You all have a great deal you can teach each other. These will likely involve some kind of short presentation to the group (10 minutes or so) that introduces everyone to your research or updates them as you progress. Then, we can all share feedback and ideas about your research in a constructive and supportive space. My goal will be to have bi-weekly paper reading meetings in which we discuss a piece of literature so you all can get familiar with interrogating science, providing critical reviews of people’s work, and so we can stay on top of new scientific advancements in the various topics our group is working in!

I will also aim to have less-formal group outings to do “fun” (TBD) things once or twice a year, depending on the group member’s interests. On top of these events, I will undoubtedly have at least one group BBQ/potluck at my home every year. Who doesn’t love food!?!


I welcome any and all constructive feedback on my mentorship and instruction from members of my group. I am imperfect and I am always looking for ways that I can improve, in all facets of my personal and professional life. If I am not meeting your needs, tell me. If I am being too critical of your work, tell me. I want to create a group culture that is safe and open for all members. Ultimately, I want to see you succeed, thrive, and flourish as scientists and members of our atmospheric science community. If I am not doing that well, I want to do better.

What I expect from you

Another significant part of my job as a professor, besides building a research program, is to train and advise students. I chose this career path because I want to contribute to your professional development and progress in your degree. I will help you set goals and hopefully achieve them. However, I cannot do the work for you. In general, I expect you to: • Learn how to plan, design, and conduct high quality scientific research • Learn how to present and document your scientific findings • Be honest, ethical, and enthusiastic • Be engaged within the research group and at least one program on campus (e.g., Graduate Student Affairs Committee) • Work hard – don’t give up! • Treat your group mates, equipment, etc. with respect • Take advantage of professional development opportunities

Many of these skills are learned during graduate school, and I do not expect you to have experience with many of these items prior to joining the group. However, I do expect to see you make progress learning these things as you progress in your degree program. It is one of the ways that I self-evaluate my effectiveness as a mentor and your overall preparation for a scientific career once you leave OU.

Getting the science done

As part of my job as a professor, I am expected to write grants and initiate research that will make tangible contributions to science, the academic community, and to society. This expectation is solely my responsibility, but you will be helping me carry out many of these tasks by conducting research. It is imperative that we carry out good scientific method and conduct ourselves in an ethical way. We must always keep in mind that the ultimate goal of our research is publication in scientific journals. Dissemination of the knowledge we gain by conducting experiments is critical to the advancement of our field. It is also important that we present our work at scientific meetings so that other researchers are aware of our progress and we can dialogue with other professionals working in these areas.

I expect you to make steady progress towards your research goals at all times. Part of that process includes being active in setting short- and medium-term goals. A good approach may include setting milestone dates and deliverables. During the academic semester, performing well in your courses is certainly important, but should not cause a complete lack of productivity. As a reminder, you are salaried half time as a graduate research assistant, so you have a responsibility to conduct research and the following guidelines are intended to support this responsibility.

An important part of conducting scientific research is keeping pace with the work of other scientists. As mentioned earlier, this is a learned skill. Learning to use literature review tools to locate relevant articles and then reading those articles will not only provide you with valuable research skills but it will also guide your research to ensure it can be an original contribution. Finally, reading other peoples published work will lead to improved writing skills – I can attest to this! A goal of reading one publication per month is a good minimum standard, and I would hope that as you become accustomed to reading literature it would become a weekly occurrence. We will periodically run journal clubs as a group (hopefully regularly!) to help achieve this goal, but journal club should not be a substitute for reading on your own within your specific area of research. My goal is to discuss 6-12 papers as a group each semester on topics that span our group research areas. You might be surprised to hear that 6-12 papers a semester probably won’t be sufficient to keep up with the literature in some areas of meteorology!

Communicating your work

Journal publications are the most important way to share your knowledge and creativity with the rest of the scientific community. It is also one of the primary ways that I am judged as a faculty member and mentor. A good standard of practice is that students pursuing a Masters degree will author or make major contributions to at least one journal paper submission; this may come during their last semester or near graduation, or just after graduating. For a student pursuing a PhD, their doctoral dissertation should result in around three journal paper submissions.

Conferences are another important venue for sharing your findings with others, not to mention the networking opportunities afforded. Although the availability of travel funding varies over time, I encourage you to submit your work for presentation to at least one conference per year. I will periodically provide notice to the group about conference/workshop opportunities, and we will make a plan together about different opportunities to pursue. Travel fellowships are available through the College ( , School of Meteorology, and the University if grant money is not available. I will help you identify and apply for these opportunities but please keep your eyes and ears open for notices as well. Some of the more common meteorological conferences include: AMS Annual Meeting (January/February), AGU Fall Meeting (December), and AMS speciality meetings (e.g., Severe Local Storms, Mesoscale, Numerical Weather Prediction/Weather Analysis and Forecasting). Due to travel costs, international conferences in other countries will likely be unavailable for students other than rare occasions.


I also expect you to respect your fellow students and the staff in the department. Part of your professional development is to learn how to work with others and resolve conflicts. Again, I can help you with this. If you feel that you have been treated unfairly by another student or a staff member, please come to me to help resolve the conflict.

Some of you may come into the group working on a specific project that is collaborative in nature, either with other faculty/students in the School of Meteorology or other institutions/laboratories. You can expect me to facilitate discussion between you and collaborators, keeping them informed of your research progress (e.g., inviting you to regular project-wide meetings). I additionally expect you to take advantage of those opportunities to network with a wider pool of scientists; you never know how your network will aid you down the line!

Professional Development

OU and the School of Meteorology has outstanding resources in place to support professional development for students. I expect you to take full advantage of these resources, since part of becoming a successful scientist involves more than just doing academic research. You are expected to make continued progress in your development as a teacher, as an ambassador to the general public representing the University and your discipline, with respect to your networking skills, and as an engaged member of broader professional organizations. The National Weather Center Colloquium series (~10 speakers annually) is an excellent opportunity to broaden your knowledge base of atmospheric science and connect with leaders in our field. While not academically required, I highly encourage and expect you to attend the colloquia your schedule allows. Colloquium speakers are here for your benefit! I will occasionally offer an opportunity to talk with our speakers as a research group as well, which offers an informal venue for scientific inquiry and discovery. There are organizations on campus that engage in science outreach and informal education activities – e.g., CIWRO outreach activities to local middle schools. Attendance at conferences and workshops will also provide professional development opportunities. Come talk with me and we can discuss how you can best leverage those opportunities. You will undoubtedly be required to attend some conferences, but in general, you should become a member of one or more professional societies such as the American Meteorological Society, American Geophysical Union, or National Weather Association. Come talk with me about guidance in selecting such opportunities.


Your research assistant appointment does not include any formal vacation, sick, holiday or other leave. That said, you are permitted to take a reasonable amount of time for all of these purposes. Approximately two weeks of vacation per year is considered reasonable. As a graduate student and researcher, you should consider how much additional vacation time will interrupt your ability to make progress with your research. I will attempt to notify you ahead of time of any personal leave (I also do not get official vacation time) so you can plan ahead for any conference abstract deadlines, school thesis deadlines, etc. I also expect you to notify me ahead of any personal vacation time so we can coordinate around deadlines, schedules, etc.

Relatedly, I expect you to take time and NOT WORK. Take care of yourself and your mental health. Burn out is real, and you will likely experience some version of burn out in graduate school. I will not expect you to work on weekends – you very well may need that time for course work – and hope that you can find community and a sense of belonging at OU and in the SOM that can support you and your health.

What you should expect from me

You should expect me to be available for regular meetings (once a week or every other week at your request). At these meetings we will talk about what you have done lately, or what you have read. I will do my best to answer questions that you have, and help you solve problems that you experience in your research. Research is not easy. There are many pitfalls and many failures. You will quickly learn that experiments sometimes will not work. That is perfectly normal. It is my responsibility to be your cheerleader and help keep you excited about your work. Only with perseverance will you generate high quality results.

You should expect me to be available during normal work hours (8a-5p). This includes in-person discussion as well as electronic communication (e.g., email, teams/slack chat). You are more than welcome to try and communicate with me outside of normal hours (e.g., the weekend) but more than likely I will not respond immediately, and may not be available until the next work day.

You should expect me to help you learn to present your work. I will ask you to prepare a poster or a presentation for at least one scientific meeting while you are in my research group (in reality, this sometimes ends up being one per year). I will help you put one together initially, and practice presenting it. Often you will gain practice by presenting to your group peers, and I will make every attempt to schedule group meetings prior to conferences to give you opportunities to present in less-stressful, low-pressure environments. Over time, you will become more comfortable (hopefully!) sharing your scientific results in front of your peers – I say that from experience! Similarly, I will help you learn to write about your research, mainly by providing feedback on drafts of your thesis and papers. As part of the SoM curriculum, you will also gain experience presenting your research in front of your peers through the various seminar series in the school – you are required to present once per year through the seminar credit hours.

You should expect me to be your advocate. If you have a problem, come and see me. I will do the best I can to help you solve it.

My primary role in the School is to write grants and bring in money so that you can do your research with as much freedom and flexibility as possible. I serve as an advisor in your research, offering guidance and advice. Together we will design a research project tailored to your interests and the objectives tied to the funding that is supporting your work (if applicable). I will also support you in your professional development activities.

Yearly Evaluation

Each year we will sit down to discuss progress and goals. At that time, you should remember to tell me if you are unhappy with any aspect of your experience as a graduate student here. Remember that I am your advocate, as well as your advisor. I will do my best to help you with any problems you might have with other students, professors, or staff.

Similarly, we should discuss any concerns that you have with respect to my role as your advisor. If you feel that you need more guidance, tell me. If you feel that I am interfering too much with your work, tell me. If you would like to meet with me more often, tell me. At the same time, I will tell you if I am satisfied with your progress, and if I think you are on track to graduate by your target date. It will be my responsibility to explain to you any deficiencies, so that you can take steps to fix them. This will be a good time for us to take care of any issues before they become major problems.

I look forward to working with you!