Course Syllabus

METR 6970-003

Boundary Layer, Urban Meteorology, and Land-Surface Processes Seminar

Fall 2023 Syllabus (updated 17 August 2023)


Time: Monday 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM

Location: NWC 1350 / Google Meet
Video call link:
Or dial: ‪(US) +1 636-498-4654‬ PIN: ‪103 829 098‬#
More phone numbers:


Instructor: Elizabeth Smith ( or
Office: NWC4351
Note this location is behind locked federal doors. Schedule meetings by visiting my Pop-Ins page or by email. 


All other Mondays in semester open for outside speakers -- Please see COURSE SUMMARY at bottom of this page for open dates
Class meetings will occur only when there is a scheduled speaker unless communicated otherwise. 

Date Enrolled Speaker
16 October Michelle Spencer
23 October Arianna Jordan
30 October Qingyu Wang
20 Nov Zeqian Xia
27 Nov Francesca Lappin
4 Dec Jordan Tweedie


COVID-19 seminar acknowledgement and adjustments:

Official mandates and accommodations for COVID-19 are no longer available as the pandemic stage has been declared generally past us at this time. However, COVID and other illnesses are still with us. We learned a lot of lessons during the active pandemic phases and we still have many effective tools and strategies to use if any of us are sick or suspicious we might be sick. The days of feeling immense pressure to power through illness to be present for work or school are behind us, at least in this setting. 

  1. If you or others choose to mask during seminar, there will be no questions asked or judgment passed about your choice. 
  2. In the event you feel sick or are questioning if you might feel sick, do not come to in-person seminar. We are offering the seminars online. While we are a SMALL seminar and having an in person audience is very encouraging to every speaker, health is a main priority. Please do not turn suspicion of sickness into an excuse to never come to seminar, but we are all adults. I trust you by default, and I do not plan to question you if you think you may be ill. 
  3. In the event you are sick and you know it, please feel welcome to reach out for accommodation for seminars you may not attend in person OR the seminar you are scheduled to deliver. 


General Information   

Much of the information in this document is adapted from the SoM Graduate Student Handbook which is available online here. The instructor will be responsible for scheduling the talks given in the seminars, whereby speakers will typically be a mix of students enrolled in the seminar section, faculty members, members from the NWC scientific community, and outside speakers. The instructor will assure that all students enrolled in the section will be accommodated and will also assign the grade for the seminar class. Students will have to decide with their advisers in which sections they should enroll and coordinate their seminar date at the beginning of the semester with the instructor of record. This will apply to all students enrolled in the various sections, but instructors are encouraged to work with students that are graduating the same semester to find seminar dates that best fit the students’ needs. Accommodating all graduating students during the last couple of weeks of the semester will however not be possible and students and advisers should move away from planning to have the seminar the same week as the thesis or dissertation defense. Students enrolled in a section are expected to attend all seminars presented during the semester in which they are enrolled. If something prevents students from tuning in live, flexibility will be allowed with recorded asynchronous viewership though this should not be a habitual occurrence. Please notify the instructor if your situation prevents live synchronous participation at any point through the semester.


Expectations of enrolled students:

This course is graded as Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory. In general, students are expected to attend the seminar series and be engaged audience members for all seminars. Note that attendance may include virtual attendance in situations when that is the appropriate choice. In that setting, student engagement is still expected. To earn a Satisfactory mark, enrolled students are asked the following requirements:

  1. Delivery of an acceptable seminar (either in person or via video conference, depending on individual needs and approval from advisor and instructor)
  2. Participation in peer-review of all student presentations (online form)
  3. Attendance to all seminars presented during the semester.

This requirement is still expected, but if something prevents students from tuning in live, flexibility will be allowed with recorded asynchronous viewership. Again, enrolled students are the majority of the live audience, so if your situation allows, please do attend sessions. Please notify the instructor if your situation prevents live synchronous participation at any point through the semester.

Expectations of instructor:

The instructor will facilitate a seminar environment that is conducive to learning and scientific discussion. This facilitation includes the following:

  1. Maintaining the seminar webpage and ensuring the timely dissemination of seminar announcements throughout the NWC. As a standard in the hybrid delivery environment we aim to post recorded seminars online once the seminar is complete. If students do not want their seminar posted online, please communicate this with the instructor. Seminars will still be recorded for review by the speaking student and any potentially absent classmates.
  2. Introducing speakers as needed and moderating constructive question and answer sessions after each seminar. The instructor will also deliver all introductions unless an advisor or mentor plans to do so. 
  3. Collecting and compiling anonymous peer review information after each seminar.
  4. Evaluating student task completion and submitting final grades.
  5.   Evaluating the success or failure of the seminar as a positive educational environment and experience for enrolled students. Please reach out at any time and provide feedback on how things are or are not working for you or could be improved to make this course more accessible for you. 


Acceptable seminar

The definition of an acceptable seminar depends on the current status of each enrolled student. In general, the seminar should be directly related to the research topic the student is focusing on for their degree. A seminar delivered as a requirement for the MS should cover the topic area of the MS thesis and present at least some cursory results (depending on proximity to defense). A seminar delivered by an early-term PhD student may be more flexible, covering a literature review, method design, or just limited or updated results. Seminars delivered by later-term PhD students should be more robust and include results and place the work in a broader scientific context. Ultimately, the determination of an acceptable seminar is up to the instructor, but a discussion with the student and the student’s advisor would be held before a presented seminar would be determined as unacceptable.


Seminar format

Not all seminar presentations are expected to be of the same length and format.  Seminars of beginning PhD students can be shorter and focus on literature review and/or provide an update on the student’s progress with his/her research.  A nominal length of 20 minutes is recommended for all but the final MS or PhD presentations. Seminars should not run longer than 40 minutes, allowing 10 minutes for questions at the end. Our meeting period is 50 minutes long, so timeliness is required. Typically, seminars are presented via slideshow format. The meeting room has a built-in computer system and hook-up for various laptops. It is strongly recommended that you check your desired method of connection BEFORE your seminar. SoM/AGS IT staff should be able to address any issues, concerns, or questions you may have about connecting to the projector. Again, please check your connection method and troubleshoot any issues with IT before your seminar. 


Hybrid Delivery and Recording

In our new hybrid reality, collaborators and guests are more apt to consider joining seminars virtually than they ever have been before. As such, all seminars are expected to be delivered in a hybrid format with online viewership as an option. By default, we will record seminars for review by the speaking student and any potentially absent classmates. We also aim to post recorded seminars online once the seminar is complete. If students do not want their seminar posted online, please communicate this with the instructor before the seminar. We will use google meet:
BUL Seminar
Mondays 3:00 – 3:50pm

Time zone: America/Chicago

Google Meet joining info

Video call link:

Or dial: ‪(US) +1 636-498-4654‬ PIN: ‪103 829 098‬#

More phone numbers:



The schedule will be built based on student requests as soon as possible, with preference given to graduating students. The full schedule will be available online at  under the Seminars tab. In the event of instructor travel/conflict, a qualified guest instructor will be appointed for any seminars falling in that period.



All speakers are expected to prepare a title and abstract (1-2 paragraphs in length) for their seminar. The title and abstract must be delivered to the instructor and submitted to the School of Meteorology (via an online form at at least 2 weeks prior to the seminar so announcements can be disseminated to the community. Once provided to the instructor, the title and abstract will also be uploaded to the BLISS webpage at under the Seminars tab. Please provide a short bio and headshot image (if you are not already pictured on the webpage) for a complete Seminar web posting to be created for you. This page is nice to share and will exist after your presentation with a link to your recorded talk, which you can then share, link to in a CV, or use in other ways moving forward. Here is an example page


Peer Review

All enrolled students will be required to peer-review all other presentations via an online form (link will be provided on seminar webpage). The anonymous responses to a quick online survey will be provided to each speaker following their presentations. The instructor and all enrolled students will participate in the peer-review process, providing students with a number of reviews that equals the number of enrollees. Submission of a peer-review survey will serve as a mark of attendance for all enrolled students, therefore a name field is required but will not be shared with the presenter. The instructor welcomes feedback on how useful the questions are and if other questions are needed.


The results of these surveys are not tied to the Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory mark of the speaker, so please do provide honest feedback to your peers. In the first term these surveys were implemented, the average scores were near 4.5, which is not an honest reflection of seminar feedback. Consider a 3 average, a 5 absolutely excellent, and a 1 absolutely terrible, and please rank accordingly. Everyone providing politely high marks is not a good example of constructive criticism, which is critical to the peer review process.


Asking Questions

While you might assume the main goal of the seminar requirement is to provide students speaking experience, it is not the only important goal. From our seminar series, I also want to provide opportunities for all involved to learn to become better at listening, offering critique, and building the confidence to ask questions in a seminar setting. Accomplishing listening and critique skill development is built in through peer review. That leaves us with confident questions. Typically, in seminars at the NWC (and in my experience at professional meetings), it is pretty rare for students and postdocs to chime in during the open question session. There are lots of reasons for this. Maybe the talk is too boring to follow. But also, maybe students don’t feel comfortable enough or confident enough to state their questions out loud. I know that there has never been a BUL seminar that I just simply understood so clearly that I had zero questions at all. This is an important skill that suddenly becomes required to lead a series like this one or be a session chair at a conference. I want to help change this norm, so I have acknowledged it directly in the BUL seminar. I promise to do my best to promote your question or engage with it to protect you from the perceived risk of asking a question and receiving little response or engagement. 



Other Important Policies

NWC Protocol: All of our activities are subject to the National Weather Center Protocol and the policies discussed therein. The NWC Protocol describes behavior that is and is not acceptable in our interactions, consequences for violating our community expectations, and provides resources for reporting issues and incidents. 


Reasonable accommodation: The University of Oklahoma is committed to provide reasonable accommodation for all students with disabilities. Students with disabilities who require accommodations in this course are requested to speak with the professor as early in the semester as possible. Students with disabilities must be registered with the Disability Resource Center prior to receiving accommodations in this course. The Disability Resource Center is located in Goddard Health Center, Suite 166, phone 405-325-3852 or TDD only 405-325-4173.


Academic Misconduct: All provisions of the Norman Campus Academic Misconduct Code shall apply in cases of academic dishonesty. Academic misconduct is defined as “any act that improperly affects the evaluation of a student’s academic performance or achievement.” All faculty at the University of Oklahoma expect academic integrity from each student. Misconduct such as plagiarism, fabrication and fraud, as well as attempting to commit such acts or assisting others in doing so, will not be tolerated. Students are responsible for knowing the academic misconduct code (, which is included in the student code. All instances of alleged academic misconduct will be thoroughly investigated and action will be taken according to the rights and responsibilities described under the academic misconduct code:


Adjustments for Pregnancy/Childbirth Related Issues: Should you need modifications or adjustments to your course requirements because of documented pregnancy-related or childbirth-related issues, please contact me as soon as possible to discuss. Generally, modifications will be made where medically necessary and similar in scope to accommodations based on temporary disability. Please see for commonly asked questions.


Religious Holiday Policy: It is the policy of the University to excuse the absences of students that result from religious observances and to provide without penalty for the rescheduling of examinations and additional required course work that may fall on a religious holiday.


Policy on Students Called to Active Military Duty: It is possible that students who are on active duty in the United States military, or who are in the Reserves or National Guard, may be called to active service on short notice. All faculty of the University have been asked to be sensitive to the special needs of these students and be prepared to assist them in the disposition of their coursework. This may include early completion of courses, withdrawal, or receipt of grades of Incomplete. If a student is called to active military service during a term in which the student has not completed an amount of work sufficient to receive a grade, the institution may refund the tuition and fees paid by the student for the current term or the institution may waive the amount of tuition and fees paid from the amount owed for tuition and fees for a future term following the students tour of duty. In the case of students who return to the University after returning from active military duty is that every step possible will be taken to facilitate their reentry into the University. They will receive special attention at all stages of the process of returning to the University and late fees and other penalties will be waived to the extent permitted under State Regents policies. See more in this Memo dated 10 March 2022.


Title IX Resources: For any concerns regarding gender-based discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, stalking, or intimate partner violence, the University offers a variety of resources, including advocates on-call 24/7, counseling services, mutual no contact orders, scheduling adjustments and disciplinary sanctions against the perpetrator. Please contact the Sexual Misconduct Office 405-325-2215 (8-5) or the Sexual Assault Response Team 405-615-0013 (24/7) to learn more or to report an incident.


Ally training:

Elizabeth Smith has completed training and been certified as an LGBTQ+ Aspiring Ally by the OU Gender + Equality Center. An LGBTQ+ Aspiring Ally is an individual with the awareness, knowledge, and skills to confront injustice and advocate for equality, while supporting all persons, regardless of perceived or actual sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, who are experiencing discrimination.

Elizabeth Smith has completed the OU Office of Diversity and Inclusion Diversity Ally UnLearning series. Unlearning is based in the theory that with constant learning, we must unlearn and relearn certain principles and practices. The workshops assist in demonstrating how common practices and behaviors can systematically harm and marginalize others.Unlearning may be formidable sounding, but the actual process brings about positive growth. The Diversity Ally workshops serve to challenge detrimental behaviors and encourage positive growth within our university community. This series also included homo- & trans-negativity in addition to the workshops listed in the image above. 


Course Summary:

Date Details Due