BOONE, N.C. — After more than a decade in retail management and marketing analytics, Jordan Greene returned to college and shifted his focus to the skies. He enrolled at Appalachian State University in 2018 and has recently been awarded a $7,000 North Carolina Space Grant Scholarship.
Greene, a senior pursuing a B.S. in mathematics with a statistics concentration, is one of two Appalachian students recognized among this year’s 13 award recipients. Nathaniel Scott, a junior majoring in physics, received an N.C. Space Grant for his research in Appalachian’s Biophysics and Optical Sciences Facility (BiyOSeF).
The N.C. Space Grant — which partners with NASA, industry, nonprofit organizations and state governmental agencies — awards annual research scholarships to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) students representing 11 North Carolina universities.
Greene’s research project
Under the guidance of Dr. James Sherman, professor in Appalachian’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, Greene is working to increase the accessibility to atmospheric aerosol measurements continuously recorded by a micro-pulse lidar (a laser radar) at the College Street Parking Deck rooftop facility of the Appalachian Atmospheric Interdisciplinary Research (AppalAIR) Program.
The measurements are supported as part of NASA’s Micro-Pulse Lidar Network (MPLNET), a global network used for climate and air quality research.
Aerosols, as Greene explained, are small solid or liquid particles in the atmosphere — such as fog, dust, mist and smoke. Sherman and his students research how aerosols are making an impact on climate change and regional air quality.
AppalAIR has two facilities, which collectively represent one of the most comprehensive long-term aerosol datasets in the U.S. — providing Appalachian students with opportunities to engage in cutting-edge research. The primary AppalAir site is located near the top of Bodenheimer Drive, in Boone, and the second is on the roof of the College Street Parking Deck next to Belk Library and Information Commons.
The format in which the large raw dataset is stored is difficult for nonspecialists to access and use, Sherman said, so Greene will format the data into tables. Greene will work with Sherman to study how the vertical structure of aerosols and clouds varies with season and time of day, and the resulting effects on solar radiation in the southern region of the Southern Appalachian region.
“It is rewarding to work with like-minded, smart and talented individuals within Dr. Sherman’s aerosol group,” Greene shared. “Dr. Sherman has been extremely helpful, aiding to my knowledge about atmospheric science and showing how my interests can benefit the research.”
“This project is a great experience and will directly translate to the work I will be pursuing,” he added.
From the corporate world to App State
Greene, a native of Boone, was working full time as an analyst in Charlotte and taking online courses toward a degree in mathematics when the company he worked for was acquired. When his position was eliminated as a result of the merger, he decided to return to Boone and transfer his credits to Appalachian to accelerate his educational goals as a full-time student.
“I chose to attend Appalachian because of the location and the programs offered,” Greene said. His experience in marketing analysis and forecasting inspired a passion for mathematics, and he said he looks forward to pursuing a data analytics career in the science realm after graduating.
Greene cited faculty members from Appalachian’s Department of Mathematical Sciences, including Joe Castonguay, Dr. Jason Osborne and Dr. Jill Thomley, as knowledgeable and helpful in his classes. “Also, my advisor, Dr. Alan Arnholt, has been awesome in advising which courses will advance my understanding for my career goals,” he said.
Returning to college as a “nontraditional student” has been gratifying for Greene, who shared, “It’s easy to feel a little out of place, but once you take the step to jump in and interact with other students and faculty, you find that despite the different places in life each may be, the common goal of learning creates a unique community.”
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About the Department of Mathematical Sciences
The Department of Mathematical Sciences offers undergraduate degrees in actuarial science and mathematics, with concentrations in business, computation, life sciences, physical sciences, secondary teaching and statistics, plus a general, self-designed concentration. The department also offers the Master of Arts in mathematics, with concentrations in college teaching and secondary teaching. Learn more at https://mathsci.appstate.edu.
About the Department of Physics and Astronomy
The Department of Physics and Astronomy’s curriculum has an applied nature that includes a core of fundamental physics courses and laboratory experiences. The department prepares graduates for a variety of scientific, teaching or engineering professions, as well as future educational endeavors. Learn more at https://physics.appstate.edu.
About the College of Arts and Sciences
The College of Arts and Sciences is home to 16 academic departments, one stand-alone academic program, two centers and one residential college. These units span the humanities and the social, mathematical and natural sciences. The College of Arts and Sciences aims to develop a distinctive identity built upon our university's strengths, traditions and unique location. The college’s values lie not only in service to the university and local community, but through inspiring, training, educating and sustaining the development of its students as global citizens. There are approximately 6,100 student majors in the college. As the college is also largely responsible for implementing Appalachian's general education curriculum, it is heavily involved in the education of all students at the university, including those pursuing majors in other colleges. Learn more at https://cas.appstate.edu.
About the Walker College of Business
The Walker College of Business at Appalachian State University delivers transformational educational experiences that prepare and inspire students to be ethical, innovative and engaged business leaders who positively impact our community, both locally and globally. The college places emphasis on international experiences, sustainable business practices, entrepreneurial programs and real-world applications with industry. Enrolling approximately 3,000 undergraduates in 10 majors and 175 graduate students in three master's programs, the Walker College is accredited by AACSB International – the premier global accrediting body for schools of business. Learn more at https://business.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.