University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

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Deanna Hence

Deanna Hence

Teaching and Mentoring in Diversity Award

2022 Larine Y. Cowan Make a Difference Award

Deanna Hence is an assistant professor of Atmospheric Sciences and 2022 winner of the Larine Y. Cowan Teaching and Mentoring in Diversity Award. Dr. Hence was recognized for her efforts in tackling outstanding issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion on several levels: from undergraduate to graduate students to faculty, from experiences in the classroom to experiences in the field. This award honors faculty, instructors, or lecturers who have consistently contributed to the promotion of understanding critical issues related to diversity and equity in teaching and/or the mentoring of diverse students.

Hence received her M.S. and Ph.D. in Atmospheric Science from the University of Washington, and her B.S. in Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences from the University of Michigan. She was a NASA Postdoctoral Fellow at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center prior to joining the U of I in 2014.

Hence is currently an AY2022-2024 Lincoln Excellence for Assistant Professors Scholar. Her research program uses observations from field experiments combined with high-resolution numerical modeling to study the interactions of high-impact convective storm systems with their environments, and how the evolution of these storms influences their impacts on human systems. Alongside these efforts, she has worked to develop intensive holistic mentorship models into year-round research experiences for underrepresented and transfer undergraduate students in Atmospheric Sciences. In her teaching, she brings perspectives around the variations in how weather and climate hazards differentially impact communities and stakeholders into all of her teaching, alongside the importance of multi-directional science communication and engagement.

The risk communication course that Hence spearheaded is an example of her unique commitment to promoting topics of diversity and equity within the atmospheric science community. Each lesson was developed to focus on the impact of weather events on underrepresented communities, such as increased flooding impacts for lower-income communities and the elderly. We utilized social science concepts and theories to identify barriers to communication that may have hindered individuals to take action. For example, a lack of internet accessibility in rural communities. Furthermore, we discussed the importance of overcoming communication barriers to provide equal access to weather risk information.