NOAA 03-R287
Contact: Keli Tarp
NOAA News Releases 2003
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University students from all over the country are spending their summer working with the country’s top weather researchers and forecasters from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Okla. NOAA is an agency of the Commerce Department.

The programs pair undergraduate students with government and university weather experts 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.

A total of 10 students are participating in the Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) program, and an additional three students are part of the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education. Students are from as far away as New York, Maine, Wisconsin and Illinois.

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 and Storm Prediction Center, as well as OU’s Oklahoma Climatological Survey, School of Meteorology and Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies.

REU participant Jenny Esker, a physics major at Southern Illinois University from Steeleville, Ill., said working at NSSL has been a key experience of her academic career.

“Not only has it tested my skills, but it has also helped me decide my next step after graduation,” Esker said. “I am constantly learning and understanding ideas about research and meteorology from my peers and mentors that I could never learn in a classroom.”

Students apply for participation in the 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.

The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education is a Department of Energy facility managed by Oak Ridge Associated Universities. With a diverse array of complementary, and often unique, programs, ORISE is a resource for science education programs; research and training in workforce health, safety, and security; emergency preparedness and response; radiological site characterization and cleanup verification; technical training systems; and integrated scientific and technical expertise.

The Department of Commerce/NOAA Weather Partners are five federal government organizations involved in weather research, forecasting and support located in Norman. They are: National Severe Storms Laboratory, National Weather Service Forecast Office, NEXRAD Radar Operations Center, Storm Prediction Center and Warning Decision Training Branch. The NOAA Weather Partners are united in their focus on severe weather. Collocation in Norman invigorates collaborations that lead to a rapid transfer of knowledge form research into technology, training and improved forecasts and warnings nationwide. Combined, the five partners employ nearly 400 people and have total annual expenditures of close to $50 million.

Information about the following organizations can be found online:

NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory:

NOAA Storm Prediction Center:

National Science Foundation:

Research Experience for Undergraduate Program: