About Maike Sonnewald

I am interested in how we bring theoretical constructs and inferences together with observations to meet the needs of modern society. My main affiliation is UC Davis, where I am an Assistant Professor and lead the Computational Climate and Ocean Group. I am also an Affiliate Assistant Professor at the University of Washington, a visiting researcher at Princeton University and a research associate at the NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory.

Combining domain knowledge with advanced techniques from data science, I aim to create new insight and accelerate exploration. I primarily work within the ocean and climate realm, but have a formal background in computer science/data science, as my thesis was joint between the National Oceanography Centre (UK), and the Institute for Complex Systems Simulation (University of Southamapton), funded by the EPSRC. I joined MIT as a Postdoctoral Associate working with Carl Wunsch, Patrick Heimbach and Steph Dutkiewitz. I have held visiting positions at Harvard University, and the University of Texas (UT) at Austin.

The impact of my work spans academia, national and international policy. It is featured in the NOAA AI strategy 2021-2025, and used in the science basis for New Zealand's Marine Protected Area legislation. I am cited by the European Parliament and the World Meteorological Organization. My over 60 invited talks include to the United Nations ITU, NOAA Research and the DOE, as well colloquia and major conferences. I am Associate Editor for the 'Artificial Intelligence for the Earth Systems' (AIES) journal by the American Meteorological Society, have authored numerous review articles and I publish in high impact journals (Science/Nature). I am committed to raising awareness around climate change, and have contributed to the Carbon brief, held sessions at summer camps and open days at museums.

Joining my Computational Climate and Ocean Group

I lead the Computational Climate and Ocean Group at UC Davis. I am actively recruiting graduate students and postdocs/research scientists. Head to our group page to learn more about us and joining.

Collaborators include

  • Redouane Lguensat
  • Krissy Reeve
  • V. Balaji
  • Alistair Adcroft
  • Aparna Radhakrishnan
  • John Krasting
  • LuAnne Thompson
  • Dan Jones
  • Isa Rosso
  • Stephanie Dutkiewicz
  • Chris Hill
  • Carl Wunsch
  • Patrick Heimbach
  • Isabela Le Bras
  • Joel J.-M. Hirschi
  • George Nurser
  • Rory Bingham


  • Simon Draeger (UC Davis) PhD student
  • Lily Walker (OIST) PhD stundent
  • William Yik (Harvey-Mud) Holling Scholar (NOAA)
  • Jacob Cohen (University of Washington), PhD student
  • Yvonne Jenniges (Alfred Wegener Institute), PhD student
  • Mariana Clare (Imperial) now at ECMWF
  • Zouberou Sayibou (Bronx Community College) now Junior at Stanford


Teaching is highly rewarding, and I received the Kaufman Teaching Certificate from MIT in 2017.

I enjoy lecturing to a wide range of audiences at graduate, undergraduate and layman level. In-person and virtual classes and workshops as well as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) with material online include:

Commitment to diversity

I believe that diversity is an asset, and that talent should be recognized regardless of race, size, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender-identity or sexual orientation. At UC Davis I was selected a CAMPOS faculty member. Outreach I've engaged in includes the Unlearning Racism in Geoscience project, outreach to the Bronx Community College, and hosting interns from traditionally underserved communities. Mentorship has played an important role for me, and I am formally and informally mentoring graduate students. At MIT I worked to lower the financial barriers to the outdoors as a guide, bringing together diverse individuals in a setting otherwise inaccessible. As a teacher, I try to emphasize existing diversity through highlighting the diverse individuals that made the discoveries.


I enjoy engaging with the wider community. A recent highlight that is hard to top is being a member of the COPEZILLA EAPS team for the Red Bull Flugtag. Kelsey Tsipis for EAPS News snapped a great photo of me at the "Nautical day at the MIT Museum". Previously, my engagement found me helping an NGO at COP15 communicating climate change, or being asked to present for the International and Industrial Advisory board of the ICSS.


I was born in Copenhagen but raised in Norway, and am German from my mothers side. I am fluent in all three languages, and I enjoy traveling to explore new cities and taking in culture.

My main sport is distance running, and I am a passionate proponent of increasing representation and diversity in the outdoors. My efforts here span mentoring and establishing female records in spaces that are male dominated at present. For example, partnering with Katherine Rosenfeld to set a first and fastest known time (FKT) for running the 70+mile High Sierra Trail. I also enjoy climbing, backcountry skiing and mountaineering and have climbed all 5 statovolcanoes in Washington state unassisted.

I am classically trained as a flutist and contemporary/classical ballet dancer, but a series of injuries and life decisions set a stop to this. I have had the honour of performing at the Odd Fellows Palace (DK), Olavshallen (NO) or Turner Sims (UK).