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Fantine Ngan
Katie Valentine

Fantine Ngan

Dr. Fong (Fantine) Ngan works for NOAA’s Air Resources Laboratory in College Park, Maryland. In her role, she works to improve the mixing process in NOAA’s dispersion model (HYSPLIT), provide accurate input data, and link the meteorological model with a dispersion model that will produce a better prediction of transport and dispersion of pollutants.

What projects or research are you working on now?

My current project is working to understand the mixing characteristics generated by different estimations of the turbulent velocity variance affecting the dispersion results. The turbulent velocity variance is an essential variable in HYSPLIT to determine the mixing of pollutants and is estimated according to the stability and turbulent variables provided by the meteorological data. I evaluated the model with measurements from different controlled tracer experiments that aimed for the sub-kilometer and regional transport. Through assessing the performance of the dispersion model, I attempt to provide guidance on the use of different turbulent mixing options and make an improvement on the estimate of the turbulent velocity variance in the model.

I develop a web-based system for registered users to run HYSPLIT based on a release location of pollutants and duration of the episode given by the user. One unique feature of the system is to provide high-resolution meteorological data by running a commonly used Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model to drive the dispersion simulation.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I enjoy working together with my colleagues to understand the physics of boundary layer processes, brainstorming ideas to build the model to accurately represent reality, and digging into the model to make it better for plume prediction.  

Who do you look to as a role model and why?

The supervisor for my Ph.D. study, Daewon Byun, is my role model in that he taught me to do the scientific research with precision, diligence, and endurance. Another role model for me is the ex-team leader of HYSPLIT, Roland Draxler, who showed the neat way of computer programing and the importance of planning (and envisioning) for research.   

What does success mean to you? 

To me success means, in a daily view, I do my research work with enjoyment and diligence. For a board view, the research findings of my work advance the HYSPLIT model for predicting pollutant plumes and contribute to the scientific community.

What’s been your favorite (or proudest) moment in your career so far? 

One of my favorite things in work is to see people around the world using the HYSPLIT model for their research, looking at topics such as as understanding of the source-receptor relationship of pollution events, predicting the movement of smoke from a wildfire, applications for volcanic eruptions and nuclear incidents, and tracing the origin of the cold polar air mass.  
 

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