PAOC Spotlights

Costa Christopoulos Named 2015 NOAA Hollings Scholar

Mon April 27th, 2015
Cassie Martin

EAPS undergraduate student Costa Christopoulos recently won a NOAA Scholarship that will support his passion for atmospheric science. Read more about the award and Christopoulos' research here


Costa ChristopoulosCosta Christopoulos, an undergraduate student in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences (EAPS), is a recipient of the 2015 NOAA Earnest F. Hollings Scholarship. The scholarship program is designed to increase undergraduate training in oceanic and atmospheric science, research, technology, and education, as well as foster multidisciplinary training opportunities. As a Hollings Scholar, Christopoulos will receive financial academic assistance for two years and a full-time summer internship at a NOAA facility beginning next year.

“I am very excited,” said Christopoulos. “One of the things that got me into science was NOAA; I would go to their website to read about the atmosphere and talk to meteorologists at the local weather service. The fact that I’ve received a scholarship from the organization that got me into science is really meaningful.”

Currently finishing his sophomore year, Christopoulos is double majoring in physics and EAPS. “I like applied physics—physics that I can see every day and that’s more relevant,” he said. “I’ve been interested in meteorology since I was ten, but I think if you really want to understand the field you have to have a firm grasp on physics and computer science.”

Thanks to the PAOC Forecast Team and MIT’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, Christopoulos is able to do just that. "I vividly remember our first encounter in 2013 during "Discovering Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences," a 3-day freshman pre-orientation program," said EAPS Meteorologist and Forecast Team Leader Lodovica Illari. "He appraoched me and we talked about how much he loved weather and wanted to get involved with our forecast team. Since then he's been a very active member, contributing to his success." 

Meanwhile in Associate Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry Dan Cziczo’s lab, Christopoulos studies aerosols and their impact on weather and climate. Specifically, he’s developing machine learning algorithms that better identify atmospheric particles.

“While all the students I’ve encountered at MIT have been very good, I will sometimes run into one that you realize is truly fantastic. Costa is one of those students,” Cziczo said. Christopoulos will present his research at the annual American Chemical Society meeting this summer and at a data workshop on atmospheric chemistry in the fall. “I think a peer reviewed paper is not far behind,” Cziczo said. “Costa is a true pleasure to work with. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of a fellowship than him.”