87th AMS Annual Meeting

Tuesday, 16 January 2007: 11:00 AM
Broadening Participation in the Atmospheric and Related Sciences though an Alliance for Undergraduate Research
206B (Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center)
Rebecca Haacker-Santos, UCAR, Boulder, CO; and R. Pandya and A. Calhoun
Internship and fellowship programs in the atmospheric and related sciences must strengthen their efforts to draw in students from underrepresented groups. Currently, programs focusing on broadening participation in the atmospheric and related sciences are limited by the availability of research mentors to guide student research and the ability to match students with research projects tailored to their interests and location. As a result, applicants outnumber available openings and a significant number of highly qualified candidates cannot be admitted. The Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Research and Science (SOARS) program, for example, accepts only 25% of all qualified applicants. Many students who aren't accepted pursue opportunities outside of the atmospheric and related sciences.

To address these obstacles, SOARS proposes an alliance of undergraduate research programs in atmospheric and related sciences. In this model, all members of the alliance would share recruiting, and students would submit a single application forwarded to all alliance members. This strategy has proven very effective in other fields; for example, the Leadership Alliance allows 32 member institutions to offer internships and fellowships through one central application process.

The benefits of implementing this type of co-recruiting are numerous. First, it would allow all partnering institutions access to a larger applicant pool and enable them to select the most qualified applicants for their programs. Second, applicants could be more easily matched with programs fitting their stated research interests. Third, fewer highly qualified applicants would be overlooked and discouraged from approaching a career in atmospheric and related sciences.

By focusing alliance activities on attracting students form underrepresented groups who haven't been exposed to the atmospheric and related science, we expect to double the number of accepted applicants from underrepresented groups into internships in the atmospheric and related sciences. Our presentation will describe initial efforts to build the alliance and invite additional participation in the alliance.

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