“Don’t get stuck into thinking you have to do one thing forever because that’s your career.”
Occupation: Lecturer in meteorology at the University of Reading. Undergraduate Admissions Tutor and Undergraduate Course Director for meteorology.
Academic Interests: Tropical meteorology and tropical convection.
Personal Interests: Orienteering; landscape drawing.
Childhood and Education
Peter Inness was always keen on outdoor activities and sports as a child, regularly going cycling and hill walking as well as enjoying rugby and athletics. But his biggest hobby was map reading; he loved studying maps and trying to understand the information they convey. He liked finding out how things worked and since all of the activities he did outdoors would get affected a lot by the weather, he was interested in knowing more about it. Having attended a state secondary school where his favourite subject was physical geography, he progressed onto the sixth form and took A-Levels in maths, physics and geography. Knowing that he wanted to pursue a career that involved geography and the environment, but not entirely sure what that would be, Pete was somewhat guided towards meteorology by his geography teacher who was a keen amateur meteorologist himself. The class took an additional O-Level in meteorology, which Pete thought was quite interesting and it later led him to apply for a job at the Met Office.
In 1985 at the age of 18, Pete left school to work for the Met Office as an Assistant Scientific Officer at Birmingham Airport for three years, where his main duties included weather observation and assisting the forecasters at the airport. He then spent a further year doing a similar role at another Met Office site in Tiree. Having enjoyed this, Pete applied to the University of Reading to study meteorology in 1989. Successful in his application, he took three years leave from the Met Office and completed his undergraduate degree at Reading in 1992. He subsequently went back and worked for the Met Office again, this time at the Hadley Centre (then in Bracknell) where he worked in the field of tropical meteorology for four years. Then in 1996 he was transferred to the Met Office College (in Reading at the time) and worked on their forecaster training programme, which involved delivering lectures on theoretical meteorology – his first taste of teaching.
Fancying a change, Pete managed to secure a job as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Reading in 1999, studying a similar area of tropical meteorology to that he had done at the Hadley Centre. Unusual in that he didn’t have a PhD at the time of commencing the role, Pete was still well equipped for the position due to his experience at the Hadley Centre in running their general circulation model. As it turned out, he ended up writing his PhD thesis at the same time as conducting postdoctoral research! In 2002 his postdoctoral position was extended for a few years, and he began to do some teaching in the Meteorology Department on some of the more practical meteorology he had previously done at the Met Office. Pete was made a Teaching Fellow in 2008, hence as well as doing research he also started teaching more formally. From then on he has moved more and more into the teaching side and is now a lecturer and purely in a teaching role, convening modules very much in the field of practical meteorology and weather forecasting. Despite this, Pete still researches a little bit on tropical meteorology and tropical convection. In addition, he is the Undergraduate Admissions Tutor and Undergraduate Course Director in the Meteorology Department in 2017.
Awards and Achievements
- Received a school award for excellence in teaching and learning in 2017.
- Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society and Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
- Wrote a book called ‘Understanding the Weather’ aimed at the general public, as well as ‘Operational Weather Forecasting’ designed for students.
- His most significant papers were those he wrote as a postdoc on the Madden-Julien Oscillation, some of which have been quite heavily cited.
- Pete quite likes drawing and has always been artistic. At one point he was almost thinking about doing art subjects instead of science subjects at A-Level, so his career could have followed a different path altogether!
- Outside of work, Pete still loves map reading and does a lot of orienteering in his spare time.
For more about Pete and his list of publications: http://www.met.reading.ac.uk/userpages/pete.php