The McKinnon group

Interesting in joining the group? Scroll down for more information.

Karen McKinnon

Assistant Professor, Statistics, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Institute of the Environment

Karen McKinnon is a professor of Statistics and the Environment at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research sits at the nexus of climate change and statistics, and is aimed at improving our understanding and prediction of climate extremes, variability, and change. She is a 2023 Kavli Fellow and a 2021 Packard Fellow in Science and Engineering, and she has served as an advisor for both city governments and private companies regarding climate change. Prof. McKinnon received her B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from Harvard University, as well as an M.Sc. from Victoria University of Wellington. She was an Advanced Study Program post-doc at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and an Applied Scientist at Descartes Labs before joining UCLA.

Email: kmckinnon at ucla dot edu
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Suqin Duan

Postdoctoral Scholar, Institute of the Environment

Suqin is a postdoctoral scholar at the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, UCLA. She works with Prof. Karen McKinnon at UCLA and Dr. Isla Simpson at NCAR to understand the role of large scale atmospheric circulation and land surface in affecting temperature variability. She will apply a variety of statistical methods to predict the temperature distribution. Previously, she was a postdoctoral research associate in the Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Princeton University, working with Prof. Stephan Fueglistaler and Dr. Kirsten Findell. She completed her Ph.D. in 2019 working on water isotopes and tropical convection, advised by Prof. Jonathon Wright at Tsinghua University and Prof. David Romps at UC Berkeley.

Email: sqduan at ucla dot edu

Nathan Hwangbo

Fourth year graduate student, Statistics

Nathan is a fourth-year PhD student in the Department of Statistics at UCLA. His current research is focused on better understanding long-term climate variability, using tree ring data to develop Bayesian models for climate reconstruction before the widespread use of meteorological instruments.

Email: nhwangbo at ucla dot edu

Kyle McEvoy

Third year graduate student, Statistics

Kyle is a third-year PhD student in the Department of Statistics at UCLA. His current research is focused on multiple hypothesis testing in climate research, exploring how correlation through space and time impact the false discovery rate and affect inference, and on modeling the changes in precipitation variance.

Email: kylemcevoy at ucla dot edu

Madeleine Beckner

Second year graduate student, Statistics

Mady is a second-year PhD student in the Department of Statistics at UCLA. Her current research interests involve leveraging statistical methodology to improve and inform land-atmosphere interaction models.

Email: mbeckner at ucla dot edu


Wenwen Kong, IoES post-doc. Now a Data Scientist at Studio X.
Sam Baugh, Statistics PhD (2022). Now an Assistant Professor of Statistics at PSU
Surabhi Agrawal, Statistics MS (2022). Now a Data Scientist at Pacific Life.
Kristen Fukunaga, Mathematics BS (2021). Now a masters student at UW Statistics.
Dhruv Chakraborty, Computational Mathematics BS (2021). Now a Product Scientist at
Avery Robinson, Statistics BS (2021). Now at Silicon Valley Bank.
Stephanie Doe, Applied Mathematics BS (2021). Now a Data Scientist at MOBE.
Russell Horowitz, IoES Master's (2021). Now a PhD student at the Basque Centre for Climate Change.
Chris Reed, IoES BS (2020). Now a Data Analyst at wikiHow.
Pete Jourgensen, Computer Science Master's degree (2019). Now a Data Scientist at Deep 6 AI.

Information for all prospective group members

Research in the McKinnon group is on the physical climate system, including the development of novel statistical and machine learning methodologies to answer scientific questions about the climate system. A strong quantitative background (including in statistics, computer science, physics, and applied math) is strongly encouraged, and is more important than a background in earth or atmospheric science specifically. Research areas include weather extremes (heat, humidity, precipitation), wildfire, internal variability across timescales, land/atmosphere interactions, and the climate response to human influences. If you are interested more broadly in questions related to sustainability or the social sciences as related to the environment, please contact other relevant faculty members at the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.

Prospective undergraduate students

At this time, I am not able to take on undergraduate students in the group. Please check back in later!

Prospective graduate students

I can admit students through the Department of Statistics, the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, and the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. Your experience doing research in my group will be the same regardless of which program you apply to; however, the course requirements and funding structures are different. Please explore the websites of the different programs to figure out what seems to meet your needs best, and get in touch with the academic administrators if you have further questions about the logistics and requirements of each program.

Note that I find it most equitable, efficient, and helpful to wait to chat by phone or zoom with prospective students until after applications have been submitted. However, you are welcome and encouraged to send me an email letting me know that you will be applying to UCLA and are interested in the group, and I can provide brief thoughts on which program may be the best fit, if helpful. If the application fee is an undue burden, please do get in touch with the relevant department about a waiver. This will not affect how your application is assessed.

Prospective post-docs

If you are interested in joining the group as a post-doc, please be in touch by email to see if I have funding available. In addition, I am happy to discuss post-doctoral fellowship options. Some potential funding sources for post-docs are the NOAA Global Change post-doc, the various NSF post-docs, and the Schmidt Science Fellows.