NOAA 03-R292
Contact: Keli Tarp
NOAA News Releases 2003
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Steeleville High School graduate Jenny Esker, a senior physics major at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, Ill., was one of 10 students selected to participate in a summer research program at the Oklahoma Weather Center in Norman, Okla.

The program pairs undergraduate students with government and university weather researchers for 10 weeks to conduct research on a variety of topics including severe weather, tornadoes, numerical weather prediction models and climatology. In addition, students prepare and present papers reporting the results of their research. Their experience is supplemented by tours, field trips and lectures, all designed to provide students the opportunity to judge whether or not they want to pursue a future career in research.

The students’ mentors, who are leading scientists in the field of meteorology, are from five of the organizations that make up the Oklahoma Weather Center, including NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory, Storm Prediction Center, as well as OU’s Oklahoma Climatalogical Survey, School of Meteorology and Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies.

Esker, who is the daughter of Mary and Tony Esker of Steeleville, Ill., worked with NSSL meteorologist Harold Brooks on a project examining hourly precipitation from 2002. The purpose of the project was to find, by looking at a simplified set of data, relationships between different regions and different times that can help build models and evaluate forecasts.

Esker said working at NSSL has not only tested her skills, but helped her decide what the next step after graduation will be. “I am constantly learning and understanding ideas about research and meteorology from my peers and mentors that I could never learn in a class.”

Students apply for participation in the Research Experiences for Undergraduate (REU) program, which is funded by the National Science Foundation and the Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms. The 10 participants were chosen from almost 100 applicants in the fields of meteorology, atmospheric science, physics, engineering, chemistry, mathematics, computer science, physical geography and other disciplines.

The aim of the National Science Foundation is to promote and advance scientific and engineering progress in the United States. Projects supported by the national REU program provide opportunities annually for several thousand undergraduate students to participate in active mathematics, science and engineering research experiences.

On the Web:

Oklahoma Weather Center REU program:

National Severe Storms Laboratory:

Storm Prediction Center:

Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms:

Oklahoma Weather Center:

University of Oklahoma School of Meteorology:

National Science Foundation: