Sonia Lasher-Trapp

Blue Waters Professor, Department of Atmospheric Sciences

Contact Information
Office: Natural History Building
1301 W. Green St.
Urbana, IL 61801
Phone: +
Curriculum Vitae



I joined the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Fall 2014, having previously run the Cloud Microphysics Group as a member of the faculty at Purdue University since 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, and the behavior of clouds as shedding thermals that thus entrain air through their leading edges. 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.

We have also contributed to the development of tools for visualization of high-resolution numerical simulations of clouds, evaluated the performance of aircraft-mounted cloud microphysical probes, and tested microphysical parameterizations in larger-scale cloud models.

We continue to shift our emphasis toward deeper cumulus clouds and thunderstorms, in particular the interaction of warm rain and ice processes in mixed-phase cumuli leading to heavy convective rainfall, the Hallet-Mossop process and its importance in ice proliferation throughout the cloud, the details of cumulus entrainment processes, and improvement of visualization for high-resolution numerical cloud modeling. 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.

More information on our group’s activities can be found at our group web site.

Research Areas
Aerosol, Clouds, Precipitation, and Cloud-Radiative Processes
Earth Systems Modeling
Atmospheric Chemistry, Geochemistry & Earth Materials
Water in the Earth System

Ph.D. The University of Oklahoma
M.S. The University of Oklahoma