Behind the Scientist

2021-02-22 12:07:42.000 – Nicole Tallman, Weather Observer/Education Specialist


Through outreach programs and talking to family and friends I realize there is a stigma behind being a scientist, that we are solely dedicated to our work and are somehow different from the general public. However, this is not true! Part of my job as an Education Specialist is not only to teach about the science, but to break down this barrier and make becoming a scientist a more approachable idea. In this Observer Comment I would like to showcase myself and my fellow shift mates with a look “Behind the Scientist”.


Ryan Knapp (Staff Meteorologist)

Weather plays a role in my life on and off the summit. While on the summit, I am forecasting for others, but when I am off the summit, I am forecasting for myself so I can decide what I am able to do on any particular day as well as how to dress if going outdoors. While off summit during the winter, you will frequently find me outside hiking, snowshoeing, or skiing. If the day is going to be particularly rough though, I might opt to stay in and settle on reading a book, watching a movie on Netflix, or playing a game on Xbox. As conditions warm up for spring/summer, I will be drawn outside more often to do yard work but once that is finished, I might go hiking, fly fishing, play disc golf, or ride my bike If I am lucky enough to have clear skies where I live, I will dig out my telescope and look for various constellations, galaxies, or planets that might be visible in the night sky. Year round, I love to do nature photography. While I certainly take my fair share of weather photos, I also like to photograph the landscape, sunrises/sunsets, animals, plants, insects, stars, the Milky Way…pretty much anything revolving around nature/outdoors. This interest in photographing natural scenes and objects draws me to explore and travel to new places both locally and abroad to see and photograph new and interesting subjects and locations. And in more normal years, I might take a drive to more populated areas to view hockey games, baseball games, concerts, and live theater.


Figure 1: Ryan Knapp’s collage of hobbies, including hiking, photography and travelling to take unique photos!


Nicole Tallman (Meteorologist / Education Specialist)

While extreme weather and meteorology are a large part of who I am, I also have many hobbies and passions outside of my science career. Unlike some of my coworkers who are winter and snow lovers I am a big fan of warmer weather and many of my hobbies reflect that. Aside from being happiest when experiencing a severe thunderstorm, my next favorite place to be is on a boat. I love kayaking, fishing and just relaxing with a view while out on a lake or ocean. Another warm weather hobby of mine is target practice with not only my compound bow, but I have also practiced with throwing axes and knives. I love the repetitive nature and working on being as accurate and precise as possible! This mentality also translates to some of my other hobbies including drawing, knitting and crocheting, all of which require practice and attention to detail. My passion for science definitely influences many of my hobbies including some science themed drawings as well as my rock, mineral and fossil collection. My favorite part of this collection is my eurypterid fossil that I collected while in New York a few years ago! My love for science even had me pick up jewelry making to create solar system bracelets made of genuine mineral beads resembling the planets. Aside from some of these science related hobbies I am also a huge fan of sports and music and in a normal year you could find me in a venue cheering on the New York Giants or jamming out to some of my favorite bands. Behind every scientist is a variety of other interests!


Figure 2: Nicole Tallman’s collage of hobbies, including fossil collecting, archery and making solar system bracelets!


Sam Robinson (Weather Observer / Engineer)

Usually when I am off work, and off the mountain, I ironically tend to find myself in the woods or on another mountain. For some reason I just cannot seem to escape high elevation. I work and live at the highest summit in the northeast and yet when I return home for my off week I will commonly hike, snowshoe, ski, or snowmobile on hills and mountains in the area. I grew up with a strong love for the outdoors and it has only grown stronger as I have aged, so most of my hobbies are outdoor oriented. I do enjoy winter and snow so skiing has become my favorite hobby recently. Who could have known sliding down a slope on two planks strapped to your feet could be so fun? Along with my passion for the outdoors and the natural world, I love machines and I enjoy troubleshooting, repair, and modification of just about anything. Both of my pickup trucks have well over 350k miles each so they require lots of maintenance and upkeep but it is lots of fun for me and saves me money. Besides those hobbies, I also enjoy listening to music, drawing, and reading (when I can find the time). Being a scientist is not necessarily a full-time ordeal with life being solely dedicated to work in the field, but in my case, my life does tend to lean towards science and the natural world. I was raised by a science teacher father and a mother who was once a National Park Ranger in a rural, wooded area so science and nature were always integrated into my everyday life. I spent loads of time outdoors, with little in the way of video games, movies or TV. As such, I was definitely a product of my environment but it truly only takes an interest and passion in science to become a scientist. Science as a whole is very broad and you may just be surprised at how extensive the subject really is.


Figure 3: Sam Robinson’s collage of hobbies, including skiing, and working on his truck!


Jackie Bellefontaine (Summit Intern)

As a child, my idea of a scientist was someone always in a laboratory, conducting experiments from dusk to dawn fueled by curiosity and dedication to learning. While there’s truth to that idea, I’ve come to learn that there’s much more to the life of a scientist! Though I have spent most of this winter learning about and experiencing extreme weather as an intern at the “Home of the World’s Worst Weather”, I have many other hobbies! When I’m not on the Mount Washington summit, you can find me still in the White Mountains alpine and cross-country skiing as well as hiking — I am currently trying to accomplish hiking the 48 4000 footers. When not in the mountains, I spend a lot of time enjoying Lake Winnipesaukee, which has officially become my home this past summer. I have a great backyard for taking out my telescope and observing distant nebulas and galaxies on a clear night. The night sky has always fascinated me and in my humble opinion, some of the most amazing instruments science has produced are the Mars rovers and Hubble Telescope. Other than learning more about astronomy, I enjoy the thrill of reading stories of Arctic and Antarctic expeditions, especially those driven by pure scientific curiosity. These expeditions sparked my interest in polar regions and helped influence my decision to study Earth and Climate Sciences as an undergraduate. Another significant hobby of mine is travelling! Though the White Mountains and NH Lakes Region have a special place in my heart, I love the feeling of wonder when exploring new places. My favorite places that I have been so far are Iceland and Alaska. Other than my hobbies related to science and exploration, I get a lot of joy from cooking and watching movies. I’m eagerly awaiting the time when we are safely able to enjoy movie theaters again! Overall, through my experiences I have learned that there is much to the life of a scientist than I thought before but the one commonality I have found is curiosity. My advice would be to view yourself as a lifelong learner and continue to ask questions, especially about things you are passionate about!


Figure 4: Jackie Bellefontaine’s collage of hobbies, including skiing, hiking, and travelling to new places!


As you can see from our various backgrounds and interests there is not one mold that a scientist takes! We all have various hobbies ranging from photography, skiing, archery and so much more. If you or anyone you know is interested in pursuing a career in science, I encourage you to go for it! Find what you are passionate about and follow it. I hope you enjoyed looking behind the scenes or “behind the scientists” of my shift!


Nicole Tallman, Weather Observer/Education Specialist

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