• yalunas@gmail.com


Yaítza Luna-Cruz, was born and raised in Puerto Rico. Since a very young age, she has maintained a passion for science, art and education. In 2003 she received the Bachelor of Science degree in Theoretical Physics, at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez (UPRM). She also completed the Master of Science degree in Physics, with the Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology Certification in 2008, at UPRM. Her thesis was titled, “Optical and Radiative Properties of Aerosols over Puerto Rico using the Multifilter Rotating Shadow-band Radiometer”. The same year Ms. Luna-Cruz decided to pursue a doctoral degree in Atmospheric Physics at the Howard University Program in Atmospheric Sciences (HUPAS). Under the supervision of HUPAS Advisor, Dr. Gregory Jenkins, Dr. Andy Heymsfield and Dr. Gregory Thompson, both of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR); Yaítza earned the Doctor of Philosophy degree in December 2013.  Her dissertation was entitled “Aerosols-Cloud-Microphysics Interactions in Tropical Cyclone Earl.”

Since 2009 and as part of her doctoral degree, Yaítza has participated in many important collaborative investigations with NCAR.  In 2011, she was selected to join the NCAR Advanced Study Program (ASP) – Graduate Visitor Program; a very distinguished student position in the atmospheric sciences field. Yaítza was recognized as a leader during the pursuit of her education, as she became the founder and first president of the Meteorological Society of Puerto Rico, affiliated with the American Meteorological Society (AMS).  Additionally she has participated in many educational and outreach activities. Dr. Luna-Cruz is an active member of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), the Golden Key International Honour Society, and the Latino Student Fund Professional Group.

Research Interests

Dr. Luna-Cruz’s experience includes a variety of atmospheric topics such as:  field observations (airborne & ground), remote and satellite sensors, numerical weather prediction models (WRF model, aerosol-cloud microphysics schemes, atmospheric corrections, atmospheric transport) and operational forecast. With the objective to continue her contribution to the atmospheric sciences community, Yaítza joined the Engility Corporation in June 2014; currently Applied Research Associates (ARA).  Dr. Luna-Cruz is an Atmospheric Physicist/Meteorologist at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) Technical Reachback.  She provides operational, research/development, training, subject matter expertise, and federal and international decision support; as part of the DTRA Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) and the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and high-yield Explosives (CBRNE) Command.

Important Field Projects:

  • MFRSR Network SAL Dust Characterization, 2012. Senegal and Cape Verde, Africa.
  • National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Ice in Clouds Experiment – Tropical (ICE-T) St. Croix, Puerto Rico and Atlantic Ocean, 2011 (NCAR C-130 aircraft – Flight hours: 48).

Yaitza Luna-Cruz, PhD CV