Tashiana Osborne has chased thunderstorms in the plains, photographed clouds in New Zealand, collected soil samples in the Bahamas, created graphics for CNN, written articles for NASA and much more in the last few years.
Now the White Bear Lake native is preparing to start graduate school; she has a full ride to Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
A fascination with clouds as a very young girl lead to an elementary school vow to become a T.V. meteorologist, which lead to a decision to attend St. Cloud State University because it was the only Minnesota college that offered a meteorology degree.
A second major in hydrology, a minor in communication and a host of research and internship experiences has Osborne now contemplating multiple career paths. Her enchantment with clouds has grown into a captivation with all earth and atmospheric sciences and an equal enthusiasm for research, teaching, broadcasting and writing, she said. She aspires for a career that involves a number of those interests, she said, or perhaps her five years at Scripps will narrow her path.
“For now, I'm focusing on continuing to grow and discover more about earth and atmospheric sciences,” she said.
During her 4.5 years as an undergraduate, she devoted every summer and many breaks and weekends to participating in internships and research endeavors and attending and sometimes presenting at conferences. “I felt like I was living out of a suitcase, but it was worth it,” she said.
Her freshman year she helped a professor and a senior student core samples from a frozen northern Minnesota lake as part of the search for the cause of stunted wild rice production. She spent her spring break on a university cultural studies trip to South Africa.
The summer between her freshman and sophomore years, a National Science Foundation research opportunity took her to San Salvador Island in the Bahamas. She took soil cores of a blue hole (also called an underwater sinkhole, or vertical cave) and upon return to St. Cloud analyzed the samples looking for evidence of climate change.
Osborne spent the next summer in Atlanta as a meteorology intern at CNN. She created graphics for on-air and online depicting a range of weather phenomena, including flooding in India and permafrost melt in the East Siberian Sea. After-hours, she delivered mock forecasts of her own and recorded a demo reel on the CNN set.
Her junior year she interned on weekends and breaks at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's North Central River Forecast Center in Chanhassen. She launched weather balloons, helped with social media and learned how to use weather forecasting software, assisting in recalibration of the program to improve flooding projections.
Osborne spent the summer of 2014 in New Zealand participating in a National Center for Atmospheric Research study of a type of rare atmospheric gravity wave. Her principal duty was collecting time-lapse photographs of clouds from multiple angles. Her senior thesis examined whether this photography technique, called stereophotogrammetry, can provide valuable information about cloud behavior.
Osborne graduated from St. Cloud State in December 2014. She gave the student address at the commencement ceremony.
She soon after was in Maryland checking off another goal on her bucket list: interning for NASA. She wrote articles and created graphics about happenings at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. “It was a great opportunity to further enhance my science communications skills,” she said.
This spring and early summer she was a storm chaser for the Center for Severe Weather Research. She was based in Kansas and drove vehicles with data collection equipment as part as a multiagency study of night thunderstorms in the Great Plains.
Osborne is now settling in San Diego doing a bit of data analysis for the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes while preparing to start her studies in the Scripps Institution of Oceanography's Climate Ocean Atmosphere Program. It's her dream school, and a fellowship is funding her tuition and living expenses. The fellowship will include research and teaching assistant assignments.
“I've worked so hard to get an opportunity like this, but it was sort of unreal at first. My dreams are coming true,” she said.