National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
 
Sudhir Raj Shrestha

Location: Silver Spring, MD
Office:
 NWS/ Office of Water Prediction
Job Title: Technical Director Web and Data Service
 Sudhir Raj Shrestha
 Sudhir Raj Shrestha
 Sudhir Raj Shrestha


Educational Background:

  • I have undergraduate degree in Agriculture from Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science, Tribhuvan University, Nepal and post-graduate degree from Ghent University Belgium and University of Wyoming, USA.

Describe the career path that led you to your current job with the National Weather Service.

  • I started my journey in earth sciences from Ghent University (Belgium) where I studied soil erosion modeling; how soil, water, and plant interactions are influenced by weather and climate and how those can be modeled using geospatial science and remote sensing. Later, at Akita Prefectural University (Japan), I developed a geospatial model to study the impact of earthquakes on the historical monuments of Nepal. My interest in understanding the spatial relationship and its applications in earth sciences brought me to the University of Wyoming, where I had an opportunity to work with an interdisciplinary team from US Army Corps of Engineers, NASA, and USDA to develop a geospatial heuristic soil model to predict soil types using IFSAR and LIDAR remote sensing information. My passion to learn something new took me to work for NOAA Environmental Cooperative Science Center (ECSC) at Florida A&M University, where I was introduced to marsh mapping using hyperspectral imagery.  Later, I took the opportunity to work on modeling wildfire forecasting at University of California Merced. There, I co-led research that prepared me to learn and expand my statistical modeling abilities. Some years later, I joined the  NOAA Climate Prediction Center (CPC) to support the climate.gov geospatial applications and interoperability projects. This prepared me to extend my knowledge and skill in geospatial science and led me to work for Esri, where I supported NOAA, NASA, JPL, USGS, USDA, and DOE as a technical lead engineer. My past work at Esri allowed me to learn and appreciate the value of the service that the National Weather Service provides. I always wanted to return to NOAA to support and advance the NOAA mission. My journey in various domains of biological sciences to physical sciences prepared me well for the opportunity to join the NOAA Geo-Intelligence division (GID) of Office of Water Predictions (OWP). I could not be happier to join this vibrant interdisciplinary team.

What do you do for the NWS?

  • I am serving as the Technical Director for the Office of Water Prediction (OWP) Web and Data Service project. In this role, I lead the development, implementation and onboarding of Office of Water Prediction next generation gateway of forecasts and information on the web “The National Water Prediction Service (NWPS)”. This unique web dissemination platform, integrates the National Weather Service, water forecast products and services legacy Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service (AHPS) website and National Water Center website. The NWPS, is complete rewrite of the AHPS web functionality into modern, efficient and mobile-friendly web code that supports geospatially driven web services and Application Programming Interface (API) driven data service. NWPS as a dissemination platform develops future leaning solutions that follows FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) Data Principle on web and geospatial dissemination services in Cloud and on-premise infrastructure to support the National Weather Service Water Resources Program. 

    I also provide key technical guidance in development and implementation of the Hydrologic Visualization and Inundation Services (HydroVIS) project involving cloud deployment of National Water Model (NWM) and River Forecast Center (RFC) forecast visualizations, including inundation geospatial mapping services. As a part of the web/dissemination effort, I represent, collaborate, and create strong stakeholder relationships with national, regional, and local partners in planning, deployment, and maintenance of national data dissemination and services. As an earth scientist, I strive to make geospatial earth science data easy to use with added value to large users with emphasis on the science community.

    I volunteer my time to enrich my work at NWS by involving in several activities:
    1. Nominated to be Faces of the National Weather Service (https://www.weather.gov/careers/physical-science-sudhir-raj-shrestha)

    2. Supported the diversity and inclusion in NWS and led the “Allyship '' team as a part of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Belonging, Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (BIDE) Tiger Team.We provided the actionable recommendation (short, mid and long-term) to NWS leadership to enhance Allyship as a part of larger goal to improve NWS BIPOC employee experience and office culture at all levels.

    3. Actively participating in NOAA Asian Employee Resource Group (ERG) that promotes and maintains the diversity and inclusion and equal opportunity for the advancements of Asian Americans and all underrepresented employees at NOAA.

    4. Serving as a Science Advisor for American Geophysical Union (AGU) Eos Informatics (https://eos.org/)

    5. Leading American Geophysical Union (AGU) Earth and Space Informatics (ESSI) group Fall Program Committee as Advisor.

    6. Co-leading the Earth and Space Science Information Partners (ESIP) Cloud Computing cluster.

    7. Served as 2022 GLOBE International Virtual Science Symposium (IVSS) Judge for school students around the world. 
       
    8. Served as a mentor in 2022 NOSB Career Mentoring Evening for high school students. ‚Äč

What was the most interesting, exciting, or impactful weather/water event you experienced while working for the NWS and why does it stand out?

  • I joined NWS in 2020 and was one of the hires during the pandemic. The Southeast Tornado event in March 2021 really stood out for me at a personal level, as I was concerned about my colleagues in Alabama at the National Water Center. NWS coordination and support for this event helped me understand the important role the National Weather Service plays in saving lives.

What made you decide to pursue a career with the NWS?

  • My passion to work with the water, weather, and climate community brought me to NWS. NWS is the right home, where I see an opportunity to learn, grow, share, and extend my skill in earth science, Data Engineering and Data Science, geospatial science, and water science (including agriculture) for a good cause and to serve our nation.

What do you like most about working for the NWS?

  • What I like most is the opportunity to work with diverse and interdisciplinary colleagues who are motivated to support and serve our nation and help protect lives. Additionally, the mission of NWS to protect life and property is the driving force that encourages and excites me to come to work every day.

What advice do you have for someone interested in a career with the NWS?

  • The National Weather Service (NWS) is a unique place to work where you can follow your passion to do cutting-edge science and technology while simultaneously helping save lives and property. What more could one ask for to follow your passion?

What training or coursework would you recommend to someone interested in following your career path?

  • As your career path is evolving with demand for new skill sets required in the Water, Weather, and Climate domain, a good background in the field of Data Science and Machine Learning (ML), including Geospatial Machine Learning, Cloud computing, and Internet of things (IoT) is very important. I do emphasize that you should take math, science, spatial statistics, computer programming, and social science courses that will provide you the foundation to develop problem solving skills and to understand and interpret the challenges you will face.We  also need to know the human dimension and how we can share and present our work, and taking a course in Performing Arts will help you with your public speaking skills. Now that you have your academic component figured out, getting to know your science community or professional domain will be important, so I suggest seeking internships, attending conferences, and participating in professional societies such as  AGU (American Geophysical Union), AMS (American Meteorological Society), ASPRS (American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing) that will provide you the platform to meet, share with, and learn from domain experts and peers. Get involved or volunteer to work with earth science community non-profits like Earth Science Information Partner (ESIP), as they provide several opportunities to interact and exchange knowledge in the earth science domain. The courses that were required for your degree may  not be enough to meet the new evolving technology in the Water, Weather ,and Climate science domain. Consider taking free or paid courses to enhance and extend your skills online through Coursera, edX, HarvardX, Udacity, MITOpenCourseWare, or from universities. Having interdisciplinary skills will be a really valuable asset. I encourage students with varying skills in private industry, academia, or with international work experience to explore how best they can come and work with NWS serving our nation.