I was born and raised near the Twin Cities, Minnesota. One of my favorite things about the Northland is its four distinct seasons. Temps would reach 100 F nearly every summer, and then January would greet us often with temps well into the -20s F. Our schools didn’t often have snow days (it would take a lot of snow to cancel school in MN), but we did sometimes have “cold days”, where wind chills would be too cold to have kids standing outside waiting for a bus. As is common among northerners, I also picked up figure skating at a very early age. I skated competitively throughout high school and spent most of my free time either running cross country for the Chanhassen Storm or on the ice practicing for my next performance.
Since I experienced all kinds of weather growing up, it’s no surprise that I became interested in meteorology. I took part in a mentor program in high school with a local forecast meteorologist who taught me how to perform hand analysis and even let me help make a forecast or two. From that point forward I knew I had to explore meteorology as a career.
I attended Iowa State University from 2012 to 2015, where I earned my bachelor of science in meteorology. I was a member of the local AMS Student Chapter, and served as vice president and president from 2013-2015. In my free time, I also became a competitive figure skating coach, getting to pass on the skills and experiences I learned as a skater.
During the summer of my junior year, I had the opportunity to study at a NOAA facility through the Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate scholarship program. I chose to study with Dr. Harold Brooks at the NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory and Dr. Joe Ripberger at the OU Center for Risk and Crisis Management, where I looked at Twitter use during tornado events. I decided that I liked Norman so much that I chose to come back to the University of Oklahoma for my graduate degrees. Now if you’ve been keeping track, that means I have been a storm, a cyclone, and then a sooner. Way to mess that one up, OU.
I received my master of science in meteorology from OU and the Cooperative Institute for Severe and High-Impact Weather Research and Operations (CIWRO) in 2017, working again with Dr. Brooks, but this time looking at the climatology of severe weather. I defended my Ph.D. in 2020, with my work focusing on the development and testing of severe weather information. I worked with forecasters, emergency managers, broadcast meteorologists, and the general public to understand if and how timing information for severe weather events would be useful.
I am currently a Research Scientist at the OU Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis and CIWRO within the Storm Prediction Center. My work focuses on decision making and risk communication during severe weather events.
Besides my research activities, I am a competitive figure skating coach, a leisure runner, a craft beer drinker, a dedicated cat mom, and a proud woman in STEM. My ideal evening includes good beer, great people, and usually two orange fur children.
Diego (left) and Mogli (right)
To learn more about Kenzie, see her CV or get in touch at mjkrocak at ou.edu.