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June 1997

A unique program SOARS into its second summer


Though they just returned to Boulder this month after a year at their home schools, the students in the Significant Opportunities in the Atmospheric and Related Sciences (SOARS) program haven't let dust collect on their research. The past year saw several of the protégés delivering major presentations at meetings and conferences around the country.

SOARS protégés (left to right)
First row: Kiesha Stevens, Jennifer Zabel, Jazmin Diaz-Lopez, Paneen Petersen, Karen Mozealous.
Second row: Jennifer Price, Christopher Castro, Stephanie Rivale, Sharon Perez-Suarez.
Third row: Shirley Murillo, Lacey Holland, Rachel Vincent, Darnell Powers, Janel Cobb.
(Photo by Carlye Calvin.)

"Practice and exposure" are what the returning SOARS students bring to their second summer in Boulder, according to the program's director, Tom Windham. Four new protégés are joining the program for a total of 17 participants. Among the returning protégés' achievements of the past year:

The program was conceived by UCAR director Rick Anthes and associate vice president for human resources and employee relations Edna Comedy in order to help remedy the chronic underrepresentation of African-Americans, American Indians, Hispanics/Latinos, and Native Alaskans in the atmospheric and related sciences. These groups made up only 2.4% of respondents in a recent survey of the discipline by the American Meteorological Society, although they constitute more than 20% of the U.S. population.

SOARS follows the Summer Employment Program, which brought a new group of undergraduates to Boulder each year from 1980 to 1995. In a meeting with NSF director Neal Lane several years ago, SEP students provided suggestions for improving the program: extending it beyond one summer, providing support for graduate work, and the like. With that input, says Tom, "Edna and Rick wrote a proposal that transformed SEP into SOARS."

The program provides educational, research, and financial support; mentoring; and career counseling for each student from acceptance (typically between their sophomore and senior years) through completion of a graduate degree. Support during the academic year also comes from 38 UCAR member universities. The program itself--funded by NSF's atmospheric science directorate, NASA, NOAA, and UCAR--subsidizes the summers at NCAR.

The mentoring model developed by Tom provides each protégé with mentors for science research, science writing, community, and peer-group support. Along with conveying technical knowledge, the mentors help guide the students through insecurity, homesickness, culture shock, and other pitfalls. Each mentor goes through an orientation program, which includes a three-hour workshop, to learn how to best serve a protégé. For example, they learn the difference between mentorship and friendship. One mentor said of the orientation, "This was so worthwhile! . . . I wish someone had given me this presentation when I first became a faculty member and adviser to grad students."

According to Tom, "One of our goals this year is a closer collaboration among the three mentors for each protégé. We're encouraging them to interact."

Matching protégés to projects

Like most UCAR opportunities, SOARS is highly selective. There were 144 applicants in 1996 and 53 for the 4 new slots this year. Though the protégés making the first cut were an exceptional group, there was no guarantee they would find research topics down their alley, especially given their wide range of backgrounds and interests. However, NCAR's ocean-to-sun breadth came through. Tom gives much of the credit to the SOARS steering committee for producing some uncommonly good matches between research mentors and protégés. "They worked hard to identify researchers whose interests paralleled the students' interests," Tom says.

Protégé Carl Etsitty is an example. From the age of 14, Carl had been drawn to science as a way to solve the land-use and agricultural problems of his native Southwest. However, his undergraduate work at Yavapai College and the University of Arizona conflicted with his Navajo heritage. For instance, Carl says, "The Elders' teachings revere the frog as one that brings the rain to Navajo lands, but science teachers encouraged us to dissect the frog." At NCAR, Carl found some resolution to his dilemma through the help of scientific mentor Lee Klinger. Lee's research in biogeochemistry is rooted in his philosophy that the globe's biological, atmospheric, and other physical systems are intimately connected. As he guided Carl on his SOARS research, Lee also encouraged him to read the works of Gaia theorist James Lovelock.

"With [Lee's] guidance and respect for traditional knowledge," says Carl, "I have been able to embrace strategies that allow me to study science with my heart and with my mind. I can travel within the wheel as a scientist while continuing to learn and practice traditional Indian knowledge. It is still my wish to live and work with my relatives on Indian lands and with the traditional scientific community to bring all people closer to the vision of a good tomorrow."

Paneen also found a project to her liking. The child of an father of German ancestry and an Inupiaq Eskimo mother, Paneen's interest in ancient cultures is rooted in her maternal background. Her mother, who died during Paneen's early childhood, appeared in a 1956 photo in National Geographic with the caption "Miss Arctic Circle." ("I find it interesting that the magazine didn't give her name," says Paneen.)

At NCAR, Paneen met with paleoclimate researchers Ben Felzer and Starley Thompson. "I was thrilled to learn of their interest in the Arctic region," says Paneen. "I recognized a shared interest in the Holocene transition, and the importance of knowing the habits of ancient plants and animals in reconstructing climates of both ancient and recent past ages." Paneen's SOARS project gives her hope that she may find a place as a scientist in the region where she grew up. "I've worried about being able to have a career that would allow me to continue to live in Alaska. Living in Alaska and conducting Arctic research are very appealing,"

New for '97

Several of the SOARS protégés from last year will only be back in Boulder for a short time this summer. "We're trying to be flexible and give students the option of staying on their home campuses if they are involved in research toward the completion of their degree," says Tom. Carl, Janel Cobb, and Preston Heard will stay at their respective schools. They'll return to NCAR in August to deliver seminars/updates on their work, most of which is being supported this summer jointly by their universities and SOARS. Quindi Franco, who is studying the links between climate research and public policy, will spend most of his time in Washington, says Tom. "In a sense, he's on a field study and the field happens to be D.C."

Two of this year's new SOARS students are being funded by new organizational partners NASA and NOAA. The students in these positions aren't locked into working at that particular agency. The idea is that a match will present itself in time so that NASA and NOAA will eventually have SOARS students on site. "We want the program to have maximum flexibility," says Tom.

The writing workshop, conducted by Marie Boyko (University of Colorado), will shift from focusing on preparation of the students' research papers to the more general theme of persuasion in scientific writing--the forms it takes in different types of communications (such as résumés, presentations, research reports, or proposals) and the various strategies used for different purposes and audiences.

"This year's workshop will function much as a research group does," says Marie. "We'll each contribute ideas, research, and thinking to advance our collective state of understanding. We'll conduct a conversation all summer long, both in workshop sessions and in a standing Web chat forum. I'm looking forward to seeing what we come up with."

Eight UCAR staff are serving as writing mentors to individual students. "This is a feature of the program that is always a great benefit to the students, and this year will be key to successful completion of their final papers," says Marie.

As in 1996, each student will present a seminar at the summer's end conveying their research methods and findings. Watch This Week at UCAR's Calendar section for the seminar listings in early August. Tom encourages any interested staff to attend these talks, as well as other special SOARS presentations during the summer. Last August, four protégés (Karen, Paneen, Jennifer Price, and Jennifer Zabel) organized the panel discussion "Women in Science," which included NCAR researchers Peggy LeMone, Sandra Henry, Susan Solomon, and Chin-Hoh Moeng. Earlier this month, protégé Preston Heard chaired a discussion panel, "Lightning and Tropospheric Chemistry," featuring Jim Dye, Peter Hess, Brian Ridley, Greg Jenkins (Pennsylvania State University), and Preston's adviser at Howard University, Vernon Morris.

When you attend a SOARS presentation, be prepared for spontaneity and a surprise here and there. Last fall, Carl, Tom, and Lacey Holland teamed up to give a progress report on SOARS at the annual meeting of UCAR members. Carl led off with a Navajo greeting before launching into a discussion of his research and his SOARS experience. "It went over well," says Tom. "The members were really pleased."

As Tom puts it, "SOARS is a learning community within a research community. As such, our style is collaboration, our process is shared decision-making, and our goal is synergy." • BH


The SOARS steering committee

Al Cooper (ASP)
Maura Hagan (HAO)
Sandra Henry (RAP)
Elisabeth Holland (ACD)
Peggy LeMone (MMM)
Peter Peterson (SCD)
Karyn Sawyer (JOSS)

Ex-officio members:
    Rick Anthes
    Edna Comedy
    Tom Windham


Reflections on the 1996 program


SOARS protégés and their projects for 1997

Student Scientist Div. Project

Christopher Castro Linda Mearns ESIG Statistical downscaling of a general circulation model and the effect of climate change on crop yields; applying to the region of Pennsylvania
Warren Washington CGD

Janel Cobb* Sonia Kreindenweis (Colorado State Univ.) CSU Performing analysis on data from the Aerosol Characterization Experiment (ACE-1) ferry flight and 1997 Arctic expedition to study the effects of ice nuclei (IN), cloud condensation nuclei, and aerosol concentrations on cloud formation and cloud radiative properties
Darrel Baumgardner ATD

Jasmin Diaz-Lopez Alan Townsend VSP Examining global ecological change and human health; monitoring effects of global climate change on biodiversity, measuring plant species richness and various climate parameters in Rocky Mountain National Park
Tom Windham SOARS
Regina Cannon ASP

Quindi Franco* Roger Pielke, Jr. ESIG Mapping U.S. climate and climate research policy

Preston Heard* Peter Hess ACD Working with measurements from the Stratosphere-Troposphere Experiment: Radiation, Aerosols, and Ozone (STERAO)/Deep Convection study of last summer to investigate oxides of nitrogen (NOx) production by lightning
Jim Dye MMM
Brian Ridley ACD
Vernon Morris (Howard University)
Greg Jenkins (Pennsylvania State University)

Lacey Holland Barbara Brown RAP Evaluating aircraft icing forecasts using observations from a research aircraft

Karen Mozealous Maura Hagan HAO Investigating the consequences of large-scale ozone density depletion on atmospheric tidal signatures

Shirley Murillo David Yates ASP Studying linkages between land surface and mesoscale models, emphasizing the role of land-surface processes and modeling methods

Sharon Perez-Suarez Robert DeConto CGD Analyzing an ocean general circulation model circulation (80 million years ago) and comparing to proxies for ocean temperature and circulation from the geologic records
Bette Otto-Bleisner CGD

Paneen Petersen Benjamin Felzer CGD Reconstructing vegetation for model comparisons using Paleoclimates from Arctic Lakes and Estuaries (PALE) data.
Starley Thompson CGD

Darnell Powers Mary Barth MMM/ACD Examining processes that influence chemistry in stratocumulus clouds
Wojciech Grabowski MMM

Jennifer Price Tony Delany ATD Investigating ozone deposition through on-site work and analysis of data from the Cooperative Atmospheric-Surface Exchange Study (CASES)

Stephanie Rivale Sasha Madronich ACD Analyzing the of role of ultraviolet light in photochemical smog formation

Kiesha Stevens Nan Rosenbloom CGD Developing a daily temperature and precipitation time series for the continential United States
Beth Holland ACD

Rachel Vincent Tomislava Vukicevic CGD Analyzing chemical interactions using a component of an atmospheric chemistry model, relating the sensitivity of the model solution to the physical parameters used in the model
Peter Hess ACD

Jennifer Zabel Alex Guenther ACD Assisting in development of trace gas analysis instruments and a trace gas emission model, including natural and anthropogenic emissions, for a field site in California

*off-campus this summer


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Edited by Bob Henson, bhenson@ucar.edu