Autumn Poisson

Updated 2020/01/11

M.S. Student (Graduate Research Assistant)
Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering
North Carolina State University
Mann Hall, Room 424
2501 Stinson Drive
Raleigh NC 27607

I am in my final year of graduate school with the CCHT at North Carolina State University and will soon be looking for a job. I am originally from Michigan where we have a different kind of coastline, but a very large one none the less. Living near the Great Lakes, my love for the natural environment was always present. I studied environmental science and mathematics at the University of Michigan for my undergraduate degree and then ecology for my masters. After graduating, I worked with various organizations on things related to environmental education, communication and outreach, and fresh water studies, and in a more pivotal position working on a coastal watershed restoration project on a small island in the Pacific Ocean. It was here where I fell in love with that other coast, the salty one. Afterward, I worked in landscape limnology (freshwater) research at Michigan State University with some truly amazing people who helped me develop an interest in the research process. From there I decided I needed a new challenge and needed to develop my own research interests, so I decided to apply to go back to school.

I am currently performing research on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) project, “Improving the Efficiency of Wave and Surge Models via Adaptive Mesh Resolution“, which has the goal of improving the efficiencies of the widely-used SWAN+ADCIRC models for hurricane waves and storm surge. My role on this project is to determine which components of a storm need to be used to as ’triggers’ for mesh switching for improved simulation efficiency and accuracy.

The first two years of my degree, I worked on the NSF project “Subgrid-Scale Corrections to Increase the Accuracy and Efficiency of Storm Surge Models,” which has the goal of incorporating the more nuanced structure of coastal landscapes available in higher resolution storm surge models into broader scaled models thus reducing computation times while also maintaining model accuracy.

I will be graduating this coming summer (summer 2021) and I hope to use my numerical modeling and quantitative skills to assist coastal communities as they prepare for the unforeseen changes they will experience. This includes learning more about coastal processes and coastal modeling to understand how storm events and subsequent storm surge will impact and alter the coastal landscape. As well as analyzing coastal environment related data and generate guidance to a broad range of users and help communities meet their future needs in addressing strategic climate-water-weather related issues.

In addition to my work at NC State, I am also passionate about my personal health and fitness so I spend most of my free time either at the gym or cooking in the kitchen. I also love to read and spend time in the outdoors. I hope to experience all that North Carolina has to offer from the mountains to the sea.


Master of Science, Civil Engineering

Master of Science, Conservation Ecology

  • University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 2014
  • Specialization in Aquatic Sciences and Environmental Health

Bachelor of Science, Environmental Science

  • University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 2011
  • Minor in Mathematics

Professional Experience

National Centers for Environmental Prediction, College Park, MD

  • William M. Lapenta NWS Intern, June 2020 to August 2020
    • As a summer student intern, I worked within the Environmental Modeling Center with my mentor, Dr. Ali Abdolali on hurricane modeling uncertainty and accuracy assessments as a part of the Coastal Act Project. I worked with the WaveWatch III model both stand alone and coupled with ADCIRC within the NEMS framework. Most of my work was related to model validation against buoy and land based station observations, grid resolution, and nearshore physics. I created important workflow Python scripts to aid the Coastal Act Project deliverables.

Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI

  • Project Manager, November 2016 to August 2018
    • Planned, implemented, and tracked many components of the Continental Limnology project and team activities. The work involved setting up meetings, sharing data and other information, working with team members on research projects, co-writing manuscripts, and participating in database management. Operated as the main point of contact for the MSU Data Intensive Landscape Limnology Lab by providing monthly financial reporting, assisting with hiring staff members and students, purchasing supplies, and assisting with other tasks as needed.

Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality, Rota, CNMI

  • Coral Reef Management Fellow, January 2016 to November 2016
    • Assisted with the implementation of the Talakhaya Watershed Conservation Action Plan (CAP). I identified best management practices, conducted the stream and coastal water-monitoring plan within the watershed, implemented a reforestation plan to aid native and endemic planting in the watershed, created GIS data layers of the watershed to visualize the changes occurring over the course of the reforestation plan, and assisted with education and outreach related activities.

Michigan Sea Grant, Ann Arbor, MI

  • Education Project Coordinator, March 2014 to January 2016
    • Managed, successfully funded, and coordinated the Great Lakes Observing System (GLOS) education project by communicating with the project team and providing resources and guidance as necessary. Completed monthly summary reports on activities to guide semi-annual summary reports to project sponsor. Developed questionnaires and surveys to collect and synthesize data to evaluate and update the Teaching Great Lakes Science lessons and data sets. Wrote grant proposals to continue funding education projects, received over 50k from GLOS.

Cooperative Institute for Limnology and Ecosystems Research, Ann Arbor, MI

  • Communications & Outreach Coordinator, August 2014 to January 2016
    • Prepared and monitored financial reports and account expenditures for research projects funding totaling over $10 million and helped manage projects by coordinating research related activities. Planned and coordinated meetings with team members, receptions, programs and events; order/organize office supplies. Developed various outreach materials including updating the CILER website, facilitating stakeholder involvement and creating fliers and educational pamphlets to improve CILERs outreach efforts.

Peer-Reviewed Publications

ORCID: ​0000-0002-8444-1609

  1. KS Cheruvelil, T Wagner, KE Webster, KBS King, AC Poisson. Macroscale spatial patterns and drivers of phosphorus and chlorophyll in shallow lakes, in preparation.
  2. AC Poisson, IM McCullough, PA Soranno, KS Cheruvelil, JA Latimore, KE Elliot (2019). “Quantifying the Contribution of Citizen Science to Broad-scale Ecological Databases,” Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. Published: Early View
  3. PA Soranno, [et al, including AC Poisson] (2017). “LAGOS-NE: A multi-scaled geospatial and temporal database of lake ecological context and water quality for thousands of U.S. lakes,” Gigascience, 6(12), 1–22.

Outreach within Broader Community

  1. Poisson AC, Abdolali A, Van der Westhuysen AJ, Ma Z, Moghimi S, and Mehra  A. ”Large Scale Unstructured WAVEWATCH III for Hurricane Hindcasts: Offshore and Nearshore Validation.” AGU Fall Meeting, Virtual, 16 December 2020.
  2. Dietrich JC, Kellam AP, McCord J, Poisson AC, Rumbaugh BA, Sybert   DM. Rising Waters: Factors that Influence Storm Surge. Video series and lesson plans on storm surge and our research on modeling and predicting storm surge in coastal North Carolina. Available on Youtube. May 2020.
  3. Soranno PA, Poisson AC. “Using citizen science data for lake water quality research to inform policy.” 13th Annual Conference of the Michigan Clean Water Corps, Tustin, Michigan, November 2017
  4. Poisson AC. “Teaching Great Lakes Science & The Next Generation Science Standards.” Michigan Science Teachers Association Conference, Grand Rapids, Michigan, February 2015.
  5. Poisson AC, Spooner E. “Great Lakes FieldScope 101.” North East Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative Networking Meeting, Alpena, Michigan, February 2015.
  6. Poisson AC. “Touching, Seeing and Smelling a Fisheries Lesson: All Aboard the Summer Discovery Fisheries Cruise.” Michigan Science Teachers Association Summer Newsletter, 2014.

Skills and Certifications

  • Software:
    • Python
    • ArcGIS
    • Microsoft Office
    • R
  • Ocean Models:
    • SLOSH
    • ADCIRC
  • Water Quality Sampling:
    • Hach Portable Flow Meter
    • Hach Turbidimeter
    • Hand-held YSI
  • PADI Open Water Diver
  • Crossfit Level 1 Certified

Honors & Awards​

  • Provost’s Doctoral Fellowship, NC State, 2018
  • School of Public Health Dean’s Scholarship Award, University of Michigan, 2012, 2013
  • Michigan Competitive Scholarship, 2009, 2010
  • Michigan Promise Award, 2008, 2009
  • George M. Landes Prize for Technical Communication, University of Michigan, 2008

Professional Memberships

  • American Society of Civil Engineers, Student Member (2018-Present)
  • American Geophysical Union, Student Member (2020-Present)
  • Coasts, Oceans, Ports, and Rivers Institute (COPRI), North Carolina State University Student Chapter, Vice President (2019-2020)


Teaching Assistant (2)

CE 282 Fluid Mechanics JC Dietrich NC State Fall 2019
CE 487 Coastal and Ocean Engineering EJ Sciaudone NC State Spring 2020