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High-flying Year in Industry Student: Kate Winfield’s time with CEDA

Last July the Centre for Environmental Data Analysis (CEDA) welcomed Kate Winfield, who joined us for her Year In Industry as part of her BSc Geography degree at Coventry University. During this time she has experienced all aspects of life as an environmental data scientist and has had some high flying experiences too!

During her time with CEDA, Kate’s plethora of tasks were centred around a major review and overhaul of CEDA’s data catalogue and all other aspects of data curation. From data reformatting and ingestion and developing user friendly support materials, Kate has helped to safeguard and enhance CEDA’s long term data archives.

Kate outside FAAM aircraft, ready for take-offCEDA archives over 183 million files of complex and highly heterogeneous environmental data. Ensuring users can easily discover, browse, understand and use this vast wealth of information relies on a comprehensive and detailed data catalogue. Before Kate started in 2015 CEDA’s data catalogue structure had been updated to meet international standards, but only 21% of the 3000 dataset records fit for purpose, correctly describing and linked to data in the archive. Now, thanks to Kate’s hard work, dedication and plenty of “data archaeology”, over 98% of the 3600 dataset catalogue records are correct and cover almost the entire CEDA archive!

To achieve this amazing feat, Kate has had to quickly develop new skills and experiences along the way:

“It has been an incredible experience supporting and meeting the academic science community. I have really enjoyed exploring and looking at all different types of environmental data from log books to satellite images, from observations to model runs. I have learnt so much in a year including technical skills, such as Python programming, to soft skills like communication.”

A key part of Kate's year was to provide her with exposure to the wider research community that CEDA supports. 

As well as attending research meetings and conferences, a real highlight for Kate was a chance to be on a FAAM atmospheric research aircraft flight in March - a wonderful opportunity for her as she readily admits:Kate and Poppy Townsend during FAAM aircraft flight

“It was an amazing experience to be able to engage with our data providers and see where fundamental data for CEDA comes from. Watching how the instrument scientists operate instruments and how the scientists are able to quality check the data before it is processed and delivered to CEDA was a real eye opener. I have learnt so much this year and it is an experience I will never forget.”

Not only has CEDA been thoroughly impressed by the quality and volume of Kate’s work, but STFC have too - awarding her a staff recognition award in March. Her work has also been celebrated at a national level as a finalist in the YINI Contribution to Business awards, achieving the runner-up for the IT award, which was no mean task:

Kate and her YINI finals competiton exhibition stand

“It was a really thrilling experience, I never thought I would end up in the finals. I had to present my contribution in 5 minutes to 100 people, including top industry representatives and TV presenter Jon Tickle from Brainiac!”

Kate answering questions after her presentation at the YINI finals

But Kate’s hard work also goes back to Coventry with her, having achieved a well deserved 86% (1st) for her university placement coursework, towards her final degree. As Kate returns to her studies in September she takes with her many happy memories, skills and experiences to share with staff and students, which we are confident will inspire others to follow her lead and reach similar heights too.

As she leaves us Kate’s final reflection on her experiences and her future is that she wants to continue pursuing a career in environmental science and would love to come back to work at STFC CEDA in the future.

Good luck Kate; and thank you from all at CEDA - you will be greatly missed by all of the team!

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