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GFDL Internships Support NOAA, Community Diversity Efforts

GFDL Internships Support NOAA, Community Diversity Efforts

Thursday, September 26, 2013

by Marian Westley

This summer, NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) hosted 10 interns, ranging from a high school senior to graduate students well on their way to their Ph.D. degrees. Each intern conducted research relevant to GFDL’s climate-science mission, and most presented their findings at GFDL and at their home institutions.

Intern and mentor

Intern and mentor

GFDL intern, Fernanda Ramos-Garces, with her mentor, Dr. Vaishali Naik. Credit: NOAA
Keren Rosado and Fernanda Ramos-Garces came to GFDL from the NOAA Center for Atmospheric Sciences (NCAS). Rosado, a PhD student in Atmospheric Science at Howard University, spent the summer testing and improving GFDL’s hurricane tracking software. Ramos-Garces, an undergraduate at the University of Puerto Rico, and Mayagüez, spent the summer researching the impact of greenhouse gases on atmospheric chemistry using GFDL’s state-of-the-art chemistry-climate model. NCAS Director and Howard University professor Vernon Morris visited GFDL in July as an invited speaker, and several scientists at GFDL are exploring long-term research collaborations with NCAS members.

“This experience has been a major step towards my goal of pursuing graduate studies in the Atmospheric Sciences,” said Ramos-Garces, who, along with Rosado, will present her work at next year’s meeting of the American Meteorological Society.

Chen Chen and Jinting Zhang were sponsored by GFDL and recruited through the Mentoring Physical Oceanography Women to Increase Retention (MPOWIR) program. Chen examined the predictability of El Niño event variations, using GFDL’s CM2.1 coupled climate model.  Chen felt positively about her experience.

“I'm glad to be in GFDL through the MPOWIR program. It is really encouraging for women majoring in physical oceanography.”

Zhang conducted research into the features of the large-scale ocean circulation that can have a strong influence on climate, also using GFDL’s CM2.1.

“My supervisor in GFDL,Rong Zhang, is an expert in this area. I learned a lot from her.”

"This experience has been a major step towards my goal of pursuing graduate studies in the Atmospheric Sciences." -  Fernanda Ramos-Garces

Michelle Frazier, Colin Raymond, and Keith Maki were Hollings Fellows, undergraduates in a competitive program sponsored by NOAA that aims to increase undergraduate training in oceanic and atmospheric science, research, technology, and education.

“The Hollings Program is really a win-win,” says 2010 Hollings Fellow Spencer Hill, now a graduate student at Princeton University in the GFDL-affiliated Atmosphere and Ocean Sciences (AOS) Program. “It’s a great financial package for the student and GFDL gets some research out of the deal.”

GFDL Interns

GFDL Interns

The ten GFDL interns and their mentors.
Hill’s 2010 internship led to a publication in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. GFDL has hosted Hollings Fellows since 2006, and four current or recent AOS graduate students are former Hollings Fellows. This summer’s interns worked on the early Pliocene warm period (Frazer), changes in extreme precipitation under two climate change scenarios (Raymond), and strategies for improving the efficiency of GFDL’s AM3 atmospheric chemistry-climate model (Maki).

The Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI) provides summer internship opportunities for Princeton University undergraduates in a variety of disciplines. PEI intern Priscilla Chan worked with GFDL’s Paul Ginoux and Elena Shevliakova from the Cooperative Institute for Climate Sciences (CICS) on determining the environmental factors that correlate with outbreaks of meningitis in Burkina Faso. Ethan Campbell worked with CICS Director Jorge Sarmiento on designing ocean carbon observation networks. He worked closely with AOS graduate student Joe Majkut, using output from GFDL’s high-resolution CM2.6 model. Campbell is a second-year undergraduate, and says he look forward to continuing this project in the years ahead.

As well as supporting several formal internship programs, GFDL also hosts interns on an informal basis if a student’s interests align with those of a GFDL scientist and desk space is available. Lei Yin, a Ph.D. student in Geosciences at The University of Texas at Austin, spent the summer investigating why the climate in GFDL’s models tends to be too dry over South America. Specifically, he explored the impact of changing horizontal resolutions in atmosphere-only versions of the models. Over the summer, Yin gave several presentations to research groups in GFDL. He plans to continue collaboration with GFDL scientists after his return to Texas. Finally, Jane Shmushkis spent one month researching the physiology of heat stress. She presented her findings to GFDL’s Climate Impacts and Extremes Group. Her internship was a requirement for graduation from New Jersey’s Biotechnology High School. Shmushkis will be attending the University of Pennsylvania this fall.

“We have had a productive time as our guests have interacted with scientists at the Lab, resulting in scientific learning and substantive outcomes,” says GFDL Director V. Ramaswamy. “We wish each and every one of our summer interns the very best in their future endeavors and look forward to their continued links with GFDL and the lab's science.”

 

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