KU News: Study will sharpen understanding of precipitation’s influence on aerosols in the atmosphere

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Study will sharpen understanding of precipitation’s influence on aerosols in the atmosphere
LAWRENCE — A new $620,000, three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Energy will enable a University of Kansas atmospheric scientist to research how aerosols, clouds and precipitation interact over ocean waters, with the goal of producing more accurate Earth System Models.

School of Law announces associate dean for diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging
LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas School of Law has announced the appointment of Jamila Jefferson-Jones, professor of law, as the new associate dean for diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. Jefferson-Jones joined the KU Law faculty in July and previously was a professor at Wayne State University and the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Study delves into how Catholic school teachers balance monetizing of education, meeting vocational call
LAWRENCE — Many teachers would attest they were called to the profession to educate students and prepare them for life, not just to provide an economic service. Yet, as education is increasingly politicized and monetized, many educators are pulled between providing an economic good and doing what they love. A new University of Kansas study found that to be especially true for Catholic school teachers, who have developed strategies for balancing their calling and profession.

Full stories below.

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Contact: Brendan Lynch, KU News Service, 785-864-8855, [email protected], @BrendanMLynch
Study will sharpen understanding of precipitation’s influence on aerosols in the atmosphere
LAWRENCE — A new $620,000, three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Energy will enable a University of Kansas atmospheric scientist to research how aerosols, clouds and precipitation interact over ocean waters, with the goal of producing more accurate Earth System Models.
Lead researcher David Mechem, professor and chair of geography & atmospheric science at KU, will use a wide array of data collected at the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program (ARM) facility on Graciosa Island in the Azores, a region of the eastern North Atlantic known for ample marine low-altitude clouds. While previous research has examined how aerosols influence radiation and precipitation, Mechem said his work will be among the first to parse in such detail how precipitation and other processes in turn influence aerosols in the atmosphere.
“The act of precipitation forming and then falling — it acts to remove the aerosol from the atmosphere,” Mechem said. “Even just a rainstorm cleans it out. You know how everything seems so clean and pristine after it rains? We call it aerosol processing or coalescence processing, this removal of aerosol from the precipitation process. What happens, then, if you try to get new cloud formation, you’re going to be dealing with a very different aerosol environment. That’s going to have implications for the brightness of the clouds that form and how prone they are to precipitation. We’ll be studying the backside of that aerosol-cloud-precipitation interaction loop. It’s something that hasn’t been studied much, and it’s important to understand, fundamentally, what governs that process.”
The KU researcher will combine ARM data from the Azores site, observations from a previous ARM aircraft field campaign called the Aerosol and Cloud Experiments in the Eastern North Atlantic, and fine-scale modeling datasets. He said he would rely on long-standing collaborations with DOE laboratory scientists to provide guidance in the use of the ARM data products.
“We’ll use ’Large-eddy Simulations,’ which are fluid-dynamic simulations to probe some of these different mechanisms in a very high-resolution model — much higher resolution than current climate models,” Mechem said. “We can see updrafts and downdrafts, and we can see individual clouds and we can calculate how individual clouds are processing the aerosol — then we can better figure out what’s going into the clouds, what’s coming out of the clouds, and what’s left after our cloud lives and dies.”
The work product of the data analysis and modeling efforts will be a more detailed, accurate understanding of marine boundary layer (MBL) aerosol-cloud-precipitation interactions, and how better to portray these interactions in climate models. According to DOE, “Response of these low clouds to changes in atmospheric greenhouse gases and aerosols is a major source of uncertainty in global climate models.”
Mechem said one work product could be a computer code with more precise models of cloud-processing of aerosols that could sharpen climate models produced by outside research groups.
“Individual clouds are too small and too short-lived for a climate model to directly capture, so you have to develop other approaches that accurately represent the effects of clouds. We’re trying to get the physics of clouds right so the models produce a credible estimate of climate change,” he said. “You want to better understand the physical processes that are happening and then also figure out a way to represent them in a computer model. We’re using observational and high-resolution modeling tools to better understand what’s going on and then we’re going to translate that understanding into improvements in how clouds are portrayed in the climate models.”
Computer simulations will be run on the KU Advanced Community Cluster.
While there is uncertainty in some details of climate models that track climate change, Mechem said it shouldn’t cast doubt on the general validity of climate models.
“If you’re doing good science, you quantify uncertainty,” he said. “You have some estimate of what you think the answer is — then you have a range, plus or minus. Part of the reason for paralysis on the climate problem is you can always say, ‘You don’t know because there’s uncertainty.’ Well, yes, there’s always uncertainty. I think the climate models are generally doing a good job, but some parts of their physics are less advanced than other parts. This project is filling in an important aspect of something that’s missing — how clouds influence aerosol, and we know aerosol are important.”
The DOE award also will support two students on the master’s or doctoral track in atmospheric science for the project’s duration.
“They do the work and get a degree out of it,” Mechem said. “It’s full sort of GRA support, a modest stipend and then their tuition covered, which is standard. Researchers typically either will do this or will use the award to get a postdoc — but generally I like supporting students.”
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Contact: Margaret Hair, School of Law, 785-864-9205, [email protected], @kulawschool
School of Law announces associate dean for diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas School of Law has announced the appointment of Jamila Jefferson-Jones, professor of law, as the new associate dean for diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.
As associate dean, Jefferson-Jones will lead diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging initiatives for the School of Law. She will coordinate with the law school’s DEIB advisory committees of faculty and staff, students and alumni to set a strategic vision for KU Law’s efforts in this area. In the newly created associate dean role, Jefferson-Jones will engage with the law school’s students, faculty, staff and administration to promote a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment for all members of the KU Law community.
“The School of Law’s efforts to build a welcoming and inclusive environment for our students over the past decade have been productive. We’ve led students and faculty in discussions about how to have conversations about race and justice within and outside the classroom, as well as conversations about developing a unique professional identity,” said Stephen Mazza, dean of the School of Law.
“But sometimes these efforts felt disjointed, and follow-up programming didn’t always take place. The law school’s response to important incidents was also sometimes delayed. By elevating DEIB issues within an associate dean position, we hope to better coordinate our efforts and make more progress in this area,” Mazza said.
In the past, three advisory committees have contributed programming, training and guidance to the law school’s DEIB efforts: the Faculty & Staff Committee on Diversity & Inclusion, the student-led Dean’s Diversity Leadership Council and the alumni Diversity Advisory Council. The expectation is that these committees will remain in place, although some revisions may occur to increase their effect.
“I am excited to join the KU Law community and continue the important work of DEIB to which so many members of this community have already shown their commitment,” Jefferson-Jones said. “I hope to implement cohesive and empowering programming and initiatives that will not only strengthen DEIB at the law school, but will establish our law school as a national leader in this area.”
Jefferson-Jones joined the KU Law faculty in July. She will teach courses in property law beginning in the spring semester. Jefferson-Jones was a visiting associate professor of law at KU in spring 2018, teaching Property and Fair Housing Law Seminar courses.
Before joining KU Law, Jefferson-Jones was a professor of law and associate director of property, equity and justice for the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights at Wayne State University School of Law. She was previously a professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, teaching courses in property, fair housing and real estate transactions, and serving as interim director of the Black Studies Program in the UMKC College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
In 2021, Jefferson-Jones received the Jefferson B. Fordham Advocacy Award from the American Bar Association Section of State and Local Government Law, recognizing her outstanding legal advocacy in the field. She is an American Bar Foundation Fellow and a former University of Missouri System Presidential Engagement Fellow, and she is active on several committees of the Association of American Law Schools and the ABA.
Jefferson-Jones’ legal scholarship focuses on property and wealth attainment by communities and groups on the margins of society. She examines the ways members of favored racialized groups exclude minoritized populations from public and private spaces, thus enforcing the racial segregation of space and racist notions of supremacy. Her work harnesses critical race methodologies, focusing in part on the use or threat of police action against members of disfavored groups. Her recent article on this subject, #LivingWhileBlack: Blackness As Nuisance, was published in the American University Law Review and featured in the New York Times.
Jefferson-Jones is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Harvard College. Prior to beginning her career in academia, Jefferson-Jones practiced law for over a decade at firms in the District of Columbia and in her hometown of New Orleans.

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Contact: Mike Krings, KU News Service, 785-864-8860, [email protected], @MikeKrings
Study delves into how Catholic school teachers balance monetizing of education, meeting vocational call
LAWRENCE — Many teachers would attest they were called to the profession to educate students and prepare them for life, not just to provide an economic service. Yet, as education is increasingly politicized and monetized, many educators are pulled between providing an economic good and doing what they love. A new University of Kansas study found that to be especially true for Catholic school teachers, who have developed strategies for balancing their calling and profession.
Education has been influenced by neoliberalism and postindustrialism in the last two decades, which places an emphasis on measurable results, standardized testing and steady enrollment. The debate of whether education should be viewed as a commodity or public good is present in all schools, but Heidi Hallman was interested in how it played out in Catholic schools, whose mission is to educate students, but also to guide them through the church’s teachings and to provide a public good for all students, though they rely on tuition.
During the pandemic, Hallman, professor of curriculum & teaching at KU, heard about families, including non-Catholics, who sent their children to Catholic schools that maintained in-person teaching.
“I wondered how these teachers perceive the challenges that they face in comparison to their public school counterparts,” Hallman said. “I did hear some lamenting the loss of community. We have sports, or the online community where we can reach around the world, and I think that has been tough for religious schools to accept, especially with the closing of so many Catholic schools and the loss of neighborhood and community.”
Hallman interviewed 35 elementary, middle school and secondary Catholic school teachers and administrators for the study, published in the journal International Studies in Catholic Education.
As many Catholic schools kept their doors open during the pandemic, the schools often saw increases in enrollment. Many new students were not Catholic, but the schools have stated missions to educate all and felt like their spiritual component could offer something for the families they might otherwise be missing. However, it also added to the perception of education as a commodity, Hallman said.
“Because of education ‘being on the market,’ we tend to have a view of education as a product. That happens in higher education as well,” Hallman said. “We don’t want to treat students as customers, but there were people happy to have students and families coming to their schools, but also a skepticism, as if people were just shopping for schools.”
The study participants revealed three themes in their responses to balancing teaching and vocation and how they dealt with the neoliberal and postindustrial influences on American education and policy.
First noted was technocratic professionalism. With a constant focus on professional development and skills, American education has emphasized that this type of training will develop the best educators. However, several of the teachers, especially the younger ones in the study, questioned that approach. Respondents often wondered if allowing them to draw on their faith and love for working with young people would make them more effective educators than continuously taking skills training classes.
Respondents also noted competition from the marketplace. Teachers could feel there were many outside forces pulling students away from the community provided by a Catholic school. Educators noted the pull of athletics outside the school or non-school related activities and options available via the internet and social media that resulted in a “watering down,” or de-investment, of activities and teachings of the school and church. Even though schools often continued in-person education, church services were often canceled or reduced in frequency, and educators noted many people, including families of students, have not come back. They also reported fearing that students would leave the schools as public schools returned to in-person learning after the initial stages of the pandemic.
Finally, respondents reported being concerned with optimizing the student experience. In addition to state-mandated curriculum, Catholic school teachers are required to impart the teachings of the church. That part of the job often appealed to those saying faith helped bring them to the job, and that it could be a way to serve everyone, but also could ring hollow.
“If a family didn’t have a religious identity, the teachers mentioned how maybe the school could offer them that, but there was also a concern that faith might simply be an add-on, or like going to the grocery store to get something you need,” Hallman said.
The educators were not territorial, she added, and often looked for ways to make non-Catholic students and families feel welcome.
The findings provide insight into how Catholic school teachers and administrators view their roles in society, a topic which has been largely overlooked by academic researchers, Hallman said. Their dedication to their work, and especially reluctance to view education as a commodity while drawing on their faith as a way to help better serve students, can provide a model for preparing teachers for all schools. As opposed to simply relying on teaching a set of skills and insisting they meet mandates and measurable results, teachers could be viewed more holistically, in a way that allows them to use what inspires them, whether religious or otherwise, to be better teachers and continue to grow, she added.
“It gave me hope that religious schools can seek their religious mission, but also welcome others and maintain their commitment to the common good, even among pressures to keep enrollment up and seeing neighboring Catholic schools close,” Hallman said. “These teachers were very hopeful. They often had lower wages but were very dedicated to their vocation, and I found that refreshing to hear from people in the pandemic era, when there are so many pressures on teachers.”
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