Get to Know...

In the spirit of getting to better know our fellow faculty and grad students, each month we will feature a new "Get to Know.." profile for one professor and one grad student. Check back here the first of every month to see who we pick and find out more about what interesting research they do and what some of their hobbies and interests are! So join us now as we get to know...

Grad Student - Linda Hembeck


Academics / Career

What is the broad topic of your research so far?

My research focuses on the chemistry in the real atmosphere and air quality models (under a very broad perspective). I am particularly interested in tropospheric chemistry.  I hope to improve existing air quality models by understanding their strengths and weaknesses. For example, ozone is a secondary pollutant which is produced from its precursors. Generally, ozone from air quality models compares well with measurements, but precursor output and measurements do not always correlate well which can mean that the chemical mechanism is flawed.  There are many other reasons for this to happen and figuring that out is very intriguing.


Why did you choose this career path? When did you first realize this career was meant for you?

I started out studying Mathematics and Physics since I had a hard time deciding between those two after high school. Throughout my studies, I realized that I prefer Physics. My previous university had an Atmospheric Physics department, and my program was built such that every student would at least do one lab in each branch of the physics department. As a result, I was so intrigued by atmospheric Physics that I decided to write my Bachelor and Master Thesis with them.  It occurred pretty late to me that I also started to deal with a lot of chemistry of the atmosphere. I’m training to be an atmospheric chemist now, which is something I have not thought about before but has been very enjoyable.

If you could hit the “redo” button, what career would you choose instead?

I do not think I would change anything. I like the way my career revealed itself to me. Of course, I could be a mathematician now if I would have continued that route instead of Physics, but I do not think that it would have been so interesting. Atmospheric science just feels much more like a ‘hand on’ science.

About You

Where did you grow up? Tell us about your family and hometown.

I grew up in Germany in a little city close to Cologne. The infrastructure is really great, so one can get to any major city within 30 minutes and still enjoy the proximity to the countryside.

Do you enjoy watching sports? What is your favorite team to watch?

I do not watch sports often. I prefer to watch sports where people participate that I actually know. Much more fun cheering for somebody who counts on you. In general, I do like to watch soccer, though my favorite team is not doing so well lately. But there are still the world championships.

What kind of hobbies do you have? (Crocheting, fantasy football, stamp collecting, hiking, etc…) What got you into these activities?

I am a horseback rider. It’s the only sport I can get myself to do without anybody else’s persuasion. My parents arranged a trial lesson when I was young and I have been doing it ever since. I would love to go swimming, but it is one of the sports I just do not like doing by myself so I do not go very often.

What music are you listening to right now?

I mainly like rock, but pretty much everything is ok with me as long as people actually sing in it.

Who’s your favorite band?

My favorite band is ‘Die Apocalyptischen Reiter.’

You’re an atmospheric chemist. If you had to pick one, what is your favorite atmospheric chemical/molecule/species?

OH since it is the detergent of the atmosphere.

What’s the farthest place you’ve traveled from home?

Chicago is the farthest place… still need to visit the west coast.

What’s your favorite book?

I don’t have a favorite book, but I like books who’s story is historical in nature and well researched.

What’s your favorite movie?

The day after tomorrow (and not because I am an atmospheric scientist).

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