Former Fellow Wins 2013 "America's Science Idol" Competition
Education - News

Washington, DC, August 13, 2013 - This past February, Tom Di Liberto, a Cornell University undergraduate and Master’s in Meteorology graduate at Stony Brook University (SBU)’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS), won "America's Science Idol" competition at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Boston, MA.

Winner Di Liberto - pictured above with (from right to left) competition host Chris Mooney and judges Indre Viskontas and Corey Powell - talked about the difficulty but importance of predicting the weather and ended with a hashtag, #weatherrespect, that perfectly summed up a well crafted presentation. Runner up Jenna Jadin presented on sex in the insect and human worlds.

Di Liberto, who won a number of awards including a trip Hollywood with the National Academy of Sciences’ Science and Entertainment Exchange, is also pictured above with the competition host, two judges and four other contestants: (from left to right) Gillian Bowser, Joshua Schroeder, Maura Hahnenberger, and runner-up Jenna Jadin.

In October 2008, Di Liberto won the "Mattice Sea Great Scholar Travel Award" while conducting his graduate work under Dr. Brian Colle of SBU's Stony Book Storm Surge Team. Much of the Team's suite of research, which has received funding from New York Sea Grant for well over a decade, took on a whole new level of importance during the past year due to Hurricane Sandy. For more, see the related news archives at

For his Master’s thesis, Di Liberto included some of this research on storm surges affecting the New York metropolitan region. His studies focused on how accurately the new model predicts weather conditions during major storms such as Hurricane Gloria that struck Long Island in 1985.

Dr. Jack Mattice, former Director of NYSG (left), presented the Mattice Sea Grant Scholar Travel Award in Fall 2008 to SBU SOMAS graduate student Tom Di Liberto. He used funds from his award to travel to Phoenix, Arizona where he presented the verification of the Stony Brook Storm Surge Model at the 89th Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society in January 2009. Photo by Barbara A. Branca

Born and raised on Long Island, Tom Di Liberto (pictured above) has been fascinated by the weather since he was a young child. Currently, he’s a meteorologist at the Climate Prediction Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, forecasting the weather for Africa, Central America, Hispaniola, and Central Asia with a focus on weather hazards that could affect food security. In addition, Tom conducts research on the use of satellite-derived rainfall estimates in these regions.

In his spare time, Tom is a devoted foodie who is currently learning how to make cheese. When he is not experimenting in the kitchen or trying to find the next great restaurant, he loves to follow his hometown sports teams: the Mets, Giants, Knicks, and Islanders.

— Compiled by Paul C. Focazio

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