Aimé Fournier

My time zone is 7h earlier than the UK, so, bear with me!

Favourite Thing: To share an understanding of something interesting and relevant to our lives.




philosophy and physics at McGill and Yale Universities

Work History:

University of Maryland College Park, University of Reading, National Center for Atmospheric Research


Current Job:

Me and my work

I use interesting mathematical methods from other research areas to analyze and simulate weather & climate phenomena.

Weather & climate analysis and simulation involves a lot of complicated structures.  For example, if you spend some time observing water flowing in a typical stream, you’d see waves, vortices, turbulence, smooth flows and other identifiable structures in many sizes from many meters down to a few millimeters, and changes on time scales from months down to fractions of a second.  Weather is like that except harder to see and involving other complications like rainy or sunny skies.  One way to use mathematics is to analyze a whole flow F into its component structures Si that can be understood individually more easily than the whole: F = S1 + S2 + S3 + …

My Typical Day

Spend a little time with pencil & paper connecting a physical problem to a mathematical solution, then a lot of time programming a computer to test that solution.

For example, a colleague runs his computer model to simulate a very turbulent flow, something like you’d find in any random imaginary box somewhere inside a violent storm.  He tries to understand his simulation using computer graphics, to visualize something he computed, such as the shape of a 3-dimensional surface in space on which the wind speed has some fixed value (just as you might visualize a hilly hiking region by the shape of 2-dimensional contours of some fixed height above sea level).  He sees some structures among all the turbulence, and I start imagining how to identify such structures mathematically.  The simplest example is when you see an edge of something, like your computer monitor right now.  How do you know it’s an edge?  It’s not only that the color, intensity etc. of what you’re looking at changes on either side of the edge, but also the scale of those changes compared to other changes in your view.  Your brain is so used to finding edges that you don’t even realize you’re doing it.  I try to teach computers how to do it.

What I'd do with the money

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Curious, economical.

Who is your favourite singer or band?

The Beatles.

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Be the father of two young children.

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

Get to share what I’ve learned, to see my children grow and prosper, to see more of the world live in peace and safety.

What did you want to be after you left school?

A scientist astronaut.

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

I almost failed Advanced Electrodynamics because I was too proud and stubborn to ask for help with the homework.

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

Maybe, to show the connection between optimal simulation methods and structure analysis techniques.

Tell us a joke.

In Heaven, all the police are English, cooks are French, mechanics are German, lovers are Italian and managers are Swiss; but in Hell, all the police are German, cooks are English, mechanics are French, lovers are Swiss and managers are Italian.