Lourdes B. Avilés is a Professor of Meteorology at Plymouth State University in central New Hampshire. She is currently chair of the program and teaches a variety of courses to prepare future meteorologists, and general courses in severe weather for students completing other majors. Her topics of interest and research include historical meteorology, physical and dynamical meteorology, tropical weather and climate, and severe weather. She is also currently a trustee of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. She holds bachelor's and master's degrees in physics and a doctorate in atmospheric sciences (more details about her professional life can be found in her curriculum vitae).
Dr. Avilés grew up in Puerto Rico during the 1970s and 1980s captivated with the hurricanes and tropical storms that seemed to threaten the island every year. She was also interested in many different aspects of math and science and at first chose to follow the path of theoretical physics. While completing her M.S. degree at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez, she rediscovered her true passion thanks to the very active 1995 hurricane season. Applying physics to the atmosphere seemed like a much more suitable career choice to match her interests. She still enjoys all aspects of science and spends as much time as possible learning any new information that comes along and taking countless pictures of nature and places. She currently lives in New Hampshire with her family.
The Great New England Hurricane of 1938 immediately sparked her curiosity when she moved to New Hampshire in 2004. The historic storm has been one of the main topics of research since 2009. She is interested not just in the meteorological and other scientific (hydrologic, geologic, ecologic) peculiarities but also on how the event fits within its historical times. In the course of her research, she scoured scientific journals, used-book and auction sites, local town libraries and historical societies, magazine articles, agency reports, national archives, newspaper articles, and anything else on which she could get her hands. Additionally, she recognized early on that the storm provides an opportunity to introduce basic hurricane science to general audiences and to explore the history of hurricane monitoring, forecasting, and warning. Taken by Storm, 1938: A Social and Meteorological History of the Great New England Hurricane is the product of Dr. Avilés’ work during the past several years. However, she does not believe that she will ever be done finding resources and seeking new insights into this fascinating and terrifying storm.