Six undergrads from the Lower 48 join GI Atmospheric Sciences group for the summer

June 25, 2012


REU students by S. SeibertAs part the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates program, six students from across the nation are now housed in the Geophysical Institute’s Atmospheric Sciences offices conducting research projects under Research Associate Professor Gerhard Kramm and Professor of Atmospheric Sciences Nicole Mölders. 


During the 10-week internships the goal is to educate the students in new fields of research and give them a glimpse into what graduate-level work entails. NSF funds the undergrads with $5,000 stipends while they work with Kramm and Mölders on research specific to the Interior: wind energy, air quality and free convection – a process associated with cloud and thunderstorm formation. At the end of summer they will be expected to submit written reports on their projects.


“Especially for people considering grad. school, it is a very valuable experience. You have no way of having expectations for graduate research. This program helps narrow your focus for future thesis work,” said Hannah Ross, a mechanical engineering major from Tennessee Tech University, of the REU program.


This year’s REU students were drawn to the University of Alaska Fairbanks for different reasons. Several of the undergraduates saw the internship as an opportunity to experience Alaska for the first time. Some participants explained that the specific research opportunities available at the GI were the motivation behind their internship selection.


Outside of their research projects, students are enjoying the temperate climate of the Interior, rock climbing and other outdoor adventures. Vicky Espinoza, geophysical sciences and meteorology major at the University of Chicago, is a runner and was able to participate in this year’s Midnight Sun Run. Not on the list of Alaska favorites: mosquitos and dorm. cuisine. Dillon Amaya, meteorology major at Texas A&M University is still adjusting to the unique attributes of summertime in Alaska.


“It feels like the world is broken because the sun never goes down,” said Amaya.


Group Photo: This year’s REU students are (from left to right): Vicky Espinoza, geophysical sciences and meteorology major at the University of Chicago; Julian Childs-Walker, physics major at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota; Dillon Amaya, meteorology major at Texas A&M; John Cooney, physics major at University of Dayton in Ohio; Reid Strickler, meteorology major at University of North Carolina Charlotte; and Hannah Ross, mechanical engineering major at Tennessee Tech. Photo by Stevie Seibert.