Covering the Land of Lincoln

My Campus: Atmospheric Sciences department head Jeff Trapp | University-illinois





What caused a record number of new students to enroll in the UI’s Department of Atmospheric Sciences this fall?

The answer lies, at least in part, in a humble, little-known building on the 1800s block of South Oak Street.

“This is the ‘DOW barn’ I’ve spent a lot of time in for the past six months and is probably a part of campus that few people know exists,” says the department head JEFF STAIRSwho met a News Gazette photographer there last week.

Inside, you’ll find one of the things that sets Trapp’s department apart from any other US college campus – a multi-million dollar mobile radar and instrumentation facility, Doppler on Wheels, used for up-close tornado observation was built. Forest fires, cyclones, and snowstorms, and is available to UI students for teaching and research projects through a partnership with Targetable Meteorological Systems.

The technology launched earlier this year, Trapps seventh on campus after 11 years at Purdue.

The Blue Waters Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, Trapp, has degrees in Missouri (Bachelor in Agriculture / Atmospheric Sciences), Texas A&M (Masters in Meteorology) and Oklahoma (Ph.D. in Meteorology).

He took us on a guided, virtual tour of some of his most memorable places and spaces on and around campus.

I interviewed in the Atmospheric Sciences Building on South Gregory Street. (Fun fact: you can find LAS Advancement in the Atmospheric Sciences Building; we’re now in the Natural History Building).

The other relevant question for a meteorologist is about weather conditions: my interview took place during one of the “polar vortex” events.

The night temperatures were in the single digits.



Illinois Insider

Editor Jeff D’Alessio’s weekly Illinois Insider page appears in the News Gazette on Thursdays.

I think a newcomer to campus should be taken to the Main Quad immediately, especially during “transit time” on a mid-October morning.

The Alma Mater statue.

Many of my problem solutions – including answering these questions – are found, or at least attempted, during my runs or walks through the arboretum and the Japanese garden.

If I need inspiration during the day, the Main Quad is the place to be.

As proud as I am of the virtual ceremonies we created in Atmospheric Sciences for the graduation ceremonies in May 2020 and 2021, I can’t wait to come back for a personal graduation in Krannert.



Jeff Trapp

Jeff Trapp with the two Doppler Radar Trucks that the school acquired in March.



I love the pools at the ARC. One of my nicest days of the year is when the outdoor pool opens for the season.

Legends, especially when we host visiting students. The rear terrace also feels like a vacation.

And if it’s a Friday, my favorite order is the fish and chips.

The fountain. My office in NHB is within easy reach of those outside of Harker Hall and the Illinois Union.

(See if you can find eight wild boars at the Diana Fountain).

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