Brian Zimmerman

Grad program: Atmospheric Science

Hometown: Madison, WI

Undergrad/previous grad institution: University of Wisconsin, Madison

Undergrad major: B.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering, M.S. in Water Resources Engineering, M.A. in Atmospheric and Oceanic Science

Why did you decide to attend the UW?

I had been at UW-Madison for quite some time—undergraduate, and a dual masters degree. I chose UW-Seattle for a Ph.D. primarily due to the advisor and project that I was able to join—I was connected to this advisor through my academic network, and the timing and our interests coincided quite well.

Where do you hope your graduate education will take you?

I hope to someday be a faculty member that not only produces good science useful to society, but that works to increase diversity and inclusion within the sciences. I intend on doing this by being an active mentor for underrepresented student populations, as well as setting up or attempting to enhance mentorship programs specifically for underrepresented students.

GO-MAP’s* motto is “Graduate Excellence through Diversity.” What does this mean to you?

The world is a collection of people from all colors, faiths, cultures—we do ourselves a disservice by ignoring this, as each culture is like a light—it casts a shadow on the ‘true’ world. Only if lights are shining from all directions are the shadows eliminated and the truth seen for what it is. In such a way, diversity brings out truth, excellence, perspective, whatever you choose to call it.

Who has been your inspiration or role model?

Dr. Mercile J. Lee has been my most treasured mentor, and greatest influence. Her unwavering faith in the students she brings into the fold has personally changed my life, and doubtless changed countless others. I imagine seeking to emulate her through the rest of my career, and to carry forward her vision of creating a just world for students of all colors and cultures.

Please provide one tip you’d like to share with UW undergrads or prospective graduate students.

Find a mentor, be a mentor! Everyone needs someone in their corner. If you have experienced having a good mentor, attempt to become one—you only get better with time and experience, and I’ve found that mentoring someone else has increased my appreciation for the mentors I have had in the past.

*GO-MAP was the name of a program that is now called GSEE, the Office of Graduate Student Equity & Excellence. Learn more.