William Atkinson

Graduate Research Assistant
William Atkinson
Graduate Research Assistant
Horn Point Laboratory


I grew up in Salisbury, MD and spent most of my time near the water including the Atlantic Ocean, Chesapeake Bay, and Wicomico River. As a kid, I was always curious about how the ocean impacted the environment around us. Because of this, I have formed a strong passion for marine science and physical oceanography. I strive to develop a better understanding of the complex physical processes of the atmosphere and ocean. Also, I hope to educate the general public on challenges facing the atmosphere and ocean and how we can mitigate future climate change impacts. 

In May of 2020, I received my Bachelor's Degree in Atmospheric and Oceanic Science (AOSC) from the University of Maryland, College Park. I completed my undergraduate senior research thesis on precipitation measurements in Puerto Rico during Hurricane Maria. My research consisted of comparing ground-based precipitation data and multiple satellite precipitation observations to understand potential error in precipitation measurements used in the Hurricane Maria Tropical Cyclone Report. After graduation, I continued this research through the Professional Research Experience Program (PREP)  in collaboration with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) where I created a 30-year climatology for Puerto Rico at daily and annual timescales. Also, I analyzed data using Python from other tropical cyclones that impacted Puerto Rico to develop a relationship between the difference in ground-based and satellite-based precipitation data and the severity of the storm.

Since entering the MEES graduate program in Fall 2020, I have been a MEES Graduate Student Organization Representative for Horn Point Laboratory. Our goal is to create a multi-campus sense of community for all MEES Students. We are available as student liaisons to help students address any questions or concerns including questions about the MEES program and graduate school in general and Title IX and ethics issues. Since Fall 2020, we have improved new student onboarding by facilitating the first MEES-wide orientation and developing a MEES Student Survival Guide. Also, we have improved communication between campuses and increased a sense of community by hosting trivia and research events. As of Fall 2021, I have become the Vice President of the MEES Graduate Student Organization. 

I am conducting my graduate research with Dr. Victoria Coles on the NASA funded project: " Predicting, Validating, and Understanding Zooplankton Distributions from Space in an Eddy Rich Ocean". Utilizing a coupled physical-biogeochemical model (HYCOM-NEMURO) as our "truth", we developed mechanistic algorithms based on phytoplankton growth and grazing equations which can be used to estimate zooplankton grazing and biomass. Next, I will apply our algorithms to satellite-based observations of the ocean and determine how mesoscale features such as fronts and eddies impact zooplankton biomass, grazing, and trophic transfer in the food web. 

Project website:

GSO website:

Areas of Expertise

  • Physical Oceanography
  • Coastal and Estuarine Dynamics
  • Atmospheric Processes


  • University of Maryland-College Park, 2020, B.S., Atmospheric and Oceanic Science
  • University of Maryland-College Park, 2020, Minor, Sustainability Studies
  • University of Maryland-Center for Environmental Sciences, Fall 2022, M.S., Earth and Ocean Sciences

Graduate Program Foundation Areas