Karen Smith


Karen Smith is an atmospheric scientist and an associate research scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. Karen was born and raised in Belleville, Ontario, Canada. When she was nine years old, her parents gave her a children's book by prominent Canadian environmentalist, David Suzuki, called “Looking at the Environment”. She spent hours with that book and grew fascinated with understanding the world around her. She completed her undergraduate degree at Queen's University in Mathematics and Mechanical Engineering. Her interest in atmospheric dynamics began with an enthusiasm for engineering fluid mechanics and a desire to apply this knowledge to the Earth system. In the summer of 2002, Karen spent three months working and traveling in the Eastern Canadian Arctic. The experience opened her eyes to the beauty and fragility of the Arctic climate and the need to protect it.

After completing her Master's degree in Environmental Science and Engineering at the California Institute of Technology in 2004, she took a break from graduate studies to work as an Air Quality and Noise Pollution Consultant in San Diego. In 2007, she resumed graduate work and completed her Ph.D. in Atmospheric Physics at the University of Toronto in 2011. Her research interests lie in better understanding climate variability on seasonal to decadal time scales. In particular, she is interested in the interaction between the atmosphere and seasonal snow cover and sea-ice. She uses a combination of observational data analysis and simple and complex computer models to study the variability of the large-scale atmospheric circulation of the mid- and high-latitudes.