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(Left to Right) Dr. John Christy congratulates the 2023 ESSC Meritorious Service Awardees Muthukumaran Ramasubramanian, Yu-Ling Wu, Stephanie Monteleone, and Anita LeRoy


Each year, the University of Alabama in Huntsville’s (UAH) Earth System Science Center (ESSC), a part of the University of Alabama system, hosts an annual ESSC Meritorious Service Award ceremony (and luncheon for the 100+ staff) to recognize exemplary employees who have made outstanding contributions supporting ESSC’s goals and initiatives. 

Each honoree is nominated based on detailed recommendations by their supervisor or team lead. Dr. John Christy, the director of ESSC, reviews each recommendation carefully, makes the final selections, and writes the award letters. The awards are presented at the annual Christmas holiday luncheon held on campus each year.

Dr. Christy takes great pride in his selections and is privileged to present them each year to the well-deserving recipients. Congratulations to the following 2023 ESSC Meritorious Service Award honorees, and for their dedication and service to ESSC:


Anita LeRoy

Research Scientist

It’s a delight to award an employee who has come through the ranks at UAH. Starting as a graduate student within UAH’s Department of Atmospheric and Earth Sciences in 2006, LeRoy now serves as an instrumental research scientist for the center with great responsibilities. 


On behalf of UAH ESSC, LeRoy supports three key programs within the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)programs at Marshall Space Flight Center including NASA Disasters, NASA Interagency Implementation and Advanced Concepts Team, and NASA Short-term Prediction Research and Transition Center (SPoRT). Serving as a bridge between the research and operational applications of these new discoveries, LeRoy utilizes her unique skillset in communicating the needs of operational end-users and decision-makers to researchers and funded agencies. LeRoy has also developed several training modules within the past five years on NASA & the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite data. These modules provide instruction to National Weather Service meteorologists, academic researchers, and employees of various federal agencies.


With a long-standing role with NASA SPoRT, LeRoy has supported new NASA/NOAA satellite missions that advance research on detecting hurricane winds and rainfall. LeRoy is also a key leader of NASA’s Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats (TROPICS) Early Adopter program and the NASA Cross-Mission Applications Working Group. 


UAH Earth System Science Center is proud of Ms. LeRoy’s accomplishments. She is truly the epitome of how UAH supports NASA Marshall Space Flight Center’s Earth Science Branch programs.




Stephanie Monteleone

Proposal & Program Coordinator

With a soon-to-be-vacated budget analyst position, UAH’s Earth System Science Center’s first generation of administrative professionals, hired in the 1980s and 90s, were scouting the horizon for an individual of the highest caliber to join the team. A rising star named Stephanie Monteleone caught their attention in 2021 due to her due to her dedication to responsible and skillful management of all stages of the proposal.


UAH’s Earth System Science Center was fortunate and delighted when Monteleone accepted the invitation to apply for the vacated budget analyst position. Over the past two years, Monteleone has kept UAH’s ESSC operations running like a well-oiled machine. 


UAH’s ESSC passed the $20 million dollar mark in externally funded expenditures this year,

representing the largest academic-science center on campus. That funding only comes when proposals, paperwork, and especially the budgets are completed correctly, all tasks Monteleone oversees for the center. 


UAH ESSC is honored that Monteleone chose to work at our center. UAH ESSC’s researchers and principal investigators would not be where they are without her thorough review of all our scientific proposals and budgets that span across multiple federal government and international organizations. 


Muthukumaran Ramasubramanian

Computer Scientist

Muthukumaran Ramasubramanian, “Kumar” to ESSC, embodies the true definition of a leader within UAH ESSC. Ramasubramanian is a UAH ESSC computer scientist currently serving as a team lead for the machine learning group within NASA’s Interagency Implementation and Advanced Concepts Team (IMPACT). NASA IMPACT is a highly successful organization dedicated to expanding the use of Earth observation data through innovation, partnerships, and technology. 


Specializing in developing and applying machine learning and deep learning techniques, Ramasubramanian’s responsibilities include simultaneously working on several IMPACT projects by applying your artificial intelligence (AI) skills to explore novel ways to leverage machine learning capabilities. Ramasubramanian accomplishes everything from building augmented data search techniques to constructing Earth science-specific foundation models. These flexible AI models constructed by Ramasubramanian can be fine-tuned for numerous Earth science research endeavors. 


Outside of his daily responsibilities, Ramasubramanian represents NASA IMPACT at many national and international conferences including American Geophysical Union, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (IGRSS) symposia to share his research to scientists across the world. Most recently, Ramasubramanian was appointed as a committee member as well as the conference chair and workshop organizer, for the IEEE-GRSS Earth Science Informatics Committee on Remote Sensing Data Management. Furthering his knowledge of advancing Earth science research by expanding machine learning applications, Ramasubramanian is working toward earning a PhD in computer science here at UAH. Ramasubramanian is an outstanding leader. UAH ESSC is proud of all his accomplishments this year that contribute to the successes within our center.


Yu-Ling Wu

Research Associate

Over the last 20 years, Yu-Ling Wu has been an integral member of many successful ESSC research projects with Drs. Udaysankar Nair, Arastoo Pour Biazar, and Dr. Richard McNider. 


Wu’s exceptional knowledge of physical and chemical atmospheric processes, along with her top-notch skills regarding complex computational schemes have enabled various earth system models to perform more accurately. Some of these models include understanding plume dispersion within the framework of EPA’s Community Multiscale Air Quality Modeling System (CMAQ), deciphering the physical processes that cause pollution over Lake Michigan, and improving the lightning NOx emission component for models such as CMAQ using estimates based on optical energy observed by the geostationary lightning mappers. 


Wu has also implemented atmospheric mercury removal mechanisms to Regional Atmospheric Modelling System in a matter of weeks, thus enabling Dr. Nair’s successful atmospheric mercury research. Collaborating with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center’s lightning team, Wu developed an observing system simulation experiment that will help pave the way for NASA’s future lightning mapping missions by solving the computationally intensive task of simulating realistic lightning.


UAH ESSC is grateful for all of Wu’s accomplishments and successes, as she makes project endeavors possible.