Helen Dacre

“Academia is less about being a genius and more about being creative and persistent.”

Quick Facts

Nationality: British

Occupation: Associate Professor of Meteorology & School Director of Postgraduate and Professional Studies at the University of Reading.

Academic Interests: Volcanic ash dispersion and its impact on aviation. The development of extratropical cyclones and their roles in transporting moisture.

Personal Interests: Tennis and hockey.

Childhood and Education

Growing up in Liverpool, Helen Dacre was not only keen on sport but also very academically focussed. Attending a girl’s school in the centre of Liverpool, Helen loved maths and physics and was inspired by her teachers, who helped her enjoy the subjects and build her confidence. Helen particularly enjoyed the creative aspect of science, and thrived when given the challenge of using her mathematical and physical knowledge to solve problems. Having taken her A-Levels, Helen went to Sheffield University to do an integrated masters degree in physics with mathematics (MPhys) for four years. After graduation, Helen wanted to do something where she could see her maths and physics in action, and having always been fascinated by the weather, she decided to go into the field of meteorology. Thus she came down to the University of Reading and completed a PhD in the meteorology department. During the latter part of her childhood and early adulthood, Helen played a lot of water polo for Great Britain, competing in the European, Commonwealth and World Championships. As part of this she got to travel all over the World, a fantastic experience which taught her to manage her time in order combine study with training sessions.


Following her PhD, Helen undertook a couple of postdoctoral positions at Reading before managing to secure a five year Research Councils UK fellowship. She subsequently joined the meteorology department as a member of teaching staff in 2012. Shortly afterwards, in 2014, Helen obtained a Fulbright scholarship which allowed her to travel to the U.S. to study and perform research with scientists in other institutions on volcanic ash prediction. Returning to Reading, she became an Associate Professor in 2015 and later began the role of School Director for Postgraduate and Professional Studies. In 2017, as part of this role, Helen started working with the World Meteorological Organisation to set up a meteorological training course at the University of Reading Malaysia campus. Helens research interests include volcanic ash dispersion and its impact on aviation, as well as the development of extratropical cyclones and their role in transporting moisture.

Awards and Achievements

  • One of her most cited papers to date was published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society in 2014 called “How do Atmospheric Rivers Form?”, about the transport of moisture by cyclones.
  • Helen has received an SMPCS award for her contributions to teaching and learning, and has received several nominations from students for her excellence in teaching.
  • She is a member of the Royal Meteorological Society, American and European Geosciences Union, as well as being a fellow of the Higher Education Academy.


  • Helen no longer plays water polo and has switched her sporting attention to tennis and hockey.

Scientific Papers and Publications

Dacre, H. F., Clark, P. A., Martinez-Alvarado, O., Stringer, M. A. and Lavers, D. A. How do atmospheric rivers form? Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 2014: http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/BAMS-D-14-00031.1