MSU faculty researches weather communication best practices during times of extreme weather



Through her research and academic efforts, Mississippi State University’s Kathy Sherman-Morris has worked to improve communication in the field of geosciences.


A professor in the Department of Geosciences, her research primarily focuses on weather communication and how people respond to the reporting, especially in times of extreme weather.


In 2020, Sherman-Morris advised a doctoral student whose dissertation work led to a coauthored article between the two researchers. In “What People Know about Weather” (Bulletin of American Meteorology Society), the team assessed how participants’ interactions with weather forecasting impacted their knowledge of weather. The study found that participants who frequently interacted with weather forecasting of different formats had higher rates of actual and self-perceived weather knowledge compared to those who did not engage with weather forecasting.


In a recent article published in the International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, Sherman-Morris elaborated on the barriers individuals who are blind face to obtain information and take protective actions during tornado threats.  These findings could help weather forecasters better protect this and other vulnerable communities.


“Much of my research aims at understanding how people respond to weather warnings, so the ultimate goal is to help meteorologists communicate the information in a way that people can use it to stay safe in extreme weather events,” Sherman-Morris said.


Sherman-Morris also has studied the perception of science activities, careers and majors among teachers and students in order to enhance diversity in geosciences. By bringing this knowledge to the many administrative roles she has held throughout the years, she aims to make a positive impact on the landscape of the discipline.


Sherman-Morris earned her Ph.D. in geography from Florida State University and has worked in MSU’s geosciences department since 2003. She now is an interim assistant dean of academic affairs for the College of Arts and Sciences.


In a world of increased extreme weather, Sherman-Morris’s research holds vital insight on how forecasters can best interact with their audiences and keep them safe.


MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences includes more than 5,000 students, 323 full-time faculty members, nine doctoral programs, 14 master’s programs, and 27 undergraduate academic majors offered in 14 departments. MSU is classified by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education as a “Very High Research Activity” doctoral university, the highest level of research activity in the country. MSU is one of only 120 schools to hold the designation. For more details about the College of Arts and Sciences, visit

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