Sonia Lasher-Trapp


  • Ph.D. in Meteorology, The University of Oklahoma, 1998
  • M.S. in Meteorology, The University of Oklahoma, 1993
  • B.S. in Meteorology summa cum laude, Saint Louis University, 1990

I joined the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Fall 2014; I was previously a member of the faculty at Purdue University starting in January 2003.

The scientific approach of our research group is to use numerical modeling and observational analysis in unison to investigate problems related to clouds and precipitation. I thus encourage all of the graduate students in our group to have both components in their research projects. Our successes in the last decade include demonstrating when giant aerosol particles are (or are not) important to warm rain formation, how the productivity of the warm rain process may change in a future warmer climate, the importance of variability resulting from entrainment and mixing upon accelerating or preventing warm rain formation, the behavior of clouds as shedding thermals that thus entrain air through their leading edges, and the influence of the warm rain process in producing large bursts of ice particles in maritime clouds. We have published multiple articles in peer-reviewed journals and regularly present our work at the AMS Conferences on Cloud Physics, and the International Conferences on Clouds and Precipitation.

At the University of Illinois, our group’s access to the Blue Waters supercomputer is allowing us to investigate new, intensive numerical modeling projects. In addition, we are expanding our research activities to include investigating changes in precipitation processes due to climate change, especially those relevant to societal hazards such as flash floods, hailstorms, and aircraft icing.

Research Areas

Courses Taught

  • Precipitation Physics (Grad level)
  • Atmospheric Thermodynamics (Undergrad level)
  • Cloud Physics (Undergrad level)