Researcher of the Month
“As a kid, I was very afraid of loud, sudden noises. I would hate thunderstorms so much. Then my dad showed me how to track thunderstorms using radar and I thought that was the coolest thing in the world. So that’s how I got into weather…,” explains Danny Caputi, who graduated magna cum laude this past December with a bachelor’s degree in Atmospheric Sciences.
At SB, Danny has done meteorology research under the mentorship of Prof. Brian Colle of SoMAS — most recently on an independent research project (ATM 487) using observational rainfall and wind data to model predictions for damage. As Vice President of the Meteorology Club for the past two years, he has also been actively involved in an array of weather-related trips/events and activities (including posting weather alerts and providing weather-related educational data for SBUWeather on Facebook; and TVSTORMWATCH, a website he designed to predict school closings). Most notably, Danny initiated and was instrumental in bringing to light— together with a team of people from HSC, SoMAS & the Meteorology Club— the “Top of the Brook” project : installing a web camera and weather station on the rooftop of the Stony Brook Health Sciences Center, the tallest building in central Long Island (360 feet) [see also facebook page]. Danny reflects: ” It’s really cool: we can actually look at time lapses of the sky; we can look at approaching storms, wind speeds and temperature readings which can be completely different from what we’re seeing on the ground.” Danny was also active in the summer 2013 Doppler Radar for Education and Mesoscale Studies (DREAMS) Project, a week-long series of research missions with a Doppler On Wheels on Long Island.
In addition to a longtime fascination with the chaotic and unpredictable nature of the atmosphere, a central topic that intrigues Danny is consciousness and the philosophy of the mind. As Danny puts it, “We all think about the meaning of life. We all ponder all these mysteries..” In April 2012, As a sophomore, Danny presented a research paper at the Undergraduate Philosophy Conference in SUNY Oneonta on “The Extraordinary Nature of Consciousness”—a paper that developed out of a philosophy class with Prof. Brian Irwin. Danny has since expanded on the project by doing independent study this past year, working with Prof. Harvey Cormier, particularly on such questions as: “If you upload your brain onto a computer, would it be you?” Danny plans to present the outcome of this work, “The Essence of the Self: A Mathematical Model to help us Cheat Death,” at an upcoming interdisciplinary meeting, Toward a Science of Consciousness, in Tucson Arizona, in April 2014. Danny’s philosophy conference presentations have been supported through URECA funding.
Danny Caputi grew up in the Stony Brook environs, and is a graduate of Ward Melville HS, ’10 (Three Village School District) where he was known for doing weather announcements on the PA. He is also a certified merit badge counselor for music, weather and aviation; and a certified SKYWARN spotter. At Stony Brook, Danny received the Petra M. Udelhofen Scholarship, awarded annually to an undergraduate in atmospheric sciences/meteorology; and the Timothy Magnussen Memorial Scholarship given annually to a senior in atmospheric sciences with exceptional academic performance. Danny plans to pursue a Ph.D. in atmospheric sciences. His hobbies include music (he has been teaching piano for 4 years); and aviation (he is a student pilot who flies gliders with the Long Island Soaring Assocation). Below are excerpts of his conversation with Karen Kernan, URECA Director.