Biography - 2022 Version:
Katerina Gonzales is a climate scientist and President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at University of Minnesota, working to bridge the gap between climate research and practice. As a researcher with the Minnesota Climate Adaptation Partnership, she researches extreme weather events and works with science end-users to advance climate adaptation. Her current work engages Western water utilities to understand their needs and practices around communicating precipitation impacts from atmospheric rivers. She also researches atmospheric rivers in the observational record to learn about their unfolding changes and impacts on water and human systems.
Kat earned her Ph.D. in Earth System Science at Stanford University in 2021 where she was an NSF Graduate Research Fellow and a Stanford Diversifying Academia, Recruiting Excellence fellow. Born and raised in Colorado, she remembers growing up with wildfires erupting across the region in the summer, and warmer winters leading to more pine beetle tree deaths, altering the Western landscape she was raised to love. Her career mission is focused on strengthening communities to address the climate crisis through research, education, and service.
Biography (longer story):
Head in the clouds.
I've been staring up at the sky as long as I can remember. As a young child, I had dreams about earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis, and other phenonema, and decided to study them when I grew up. Years after collecting data from home-made weather instruments, my interest in earth science led me to pursue my bachelor's degree in Geophysics at Colorado School of Mines.
In between staring at computer screens, I still stare at the sky. My fascination with the atmosphere and passion for understanding out changing climate led me to pursue a PhD at Stanford University in the Department of Earth System Science with Dr. Noah Diffenbaugh. My research interests lie on the intersection of atmospheric science and climate change impacts. My dissertation studied US west coast atmospheric rivers (rivers in the sky!) in the recent observational record and how they behave in conditions of a changing climate.
Feet on the ground.
As a pandemic-era doctor (i.e., someone who finished their PhD in 2020/2021/etc.), I was deeply affected by watching how my local communities and the public grappled with the compounding disasters of COVID-19, the CA heatwaves & Western US wildfires, and the intersectional injustice that was ever-present in these realities.
My commitment to serve society through my research led me to the research-to-action, transdisciplinary, co-production model of research. I'm currently learning from and working with Dr. Heidi Roop at University of Minnesota.
In addition to my scholarly research and practice, I am passionate about helping develop communities who work towards transformation around them. I also enjoy traveling, exploring new food, tasting coffee, and listening to podcasts.