Professor Spotlight: Dr. Melissa Godek

Erin Potter, Columnist

Dr. Melissa Godek grew up in Hillsdale, NY, a small town about two hours east of Oneonta. From there, she went to Syracuse University where she obtained her Bachelors degree in Geology and Geography. That is where Godek became interested in climatology after taking just one class. After finishing her undergraduate degree, she obtained a job with NASA in Seattle, WA. She worked under a professor from the University of Washington doing research on the impact of climate on extreme weather. After this, Godek went on to graduate school at the University of Delaware for several years, where she earned her Masters and PhD in climatology.

She is currently working on two research projects: one project is looking at climate oscillations, like El Niño and La Niña, to correlate to the day to day fluctuations in winter. The goal is to better understand the impacts of these patterns on seasonal climate variability, specifically, impacts on temperature and precipitation. Her other project focuses on the phenomenon called Indian Summer, which has been studied very little. This project seeks to define the phenomenon scientifically using meteorological variables such as temperature, cloud cover, and precipitation. Her other research interests include variability in lake effect snowfall, impacts of global climate change, and the impact of weather and climate on humans.

Godek is also a member of faculty Senate. She feels that every department has an equal and important role in the happenings on campus. She came to Oneonta last fall and thought that by being a new faculty member, she wouldn’t have much of a voice in campus politics. However, this was not the case. Godek feels the politics on campus are very open to new faculty and new ideas.
Godek chose to teach at SUNY Oneonta for several reasons. She has been to many schools, and at SUNY Oneonta she feels that she can spend most of her time teaching while still incorporating her students in research. Since our school is selective with its students, Godek believes that they can be challenged under high rigor while still learning valuable material. Her advice to students is to “pursue a field that you love, even if the jobs are scarce.” Also, diversify yourself; get involved in research, local internships and extracurricular activities. To generalize why she chose Oneonta, Dr. Godek states, “Basically, I love to teach and I love Upstate NY!”

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