It is always with a tinge of sadness that I say goodbye to the SOARS protégés at the end of summer. But it is also with pride that I look at how far these vibrant, talented students have come in just eleven short weeks. This summer, with the support of an incredible team of mentors, each SOARS protégé conducted original research, wrote a scientific paper, gave two presentations and presented a poster. They also built a community of people who will be friends, collaborators, and supporters for years to come.
SOARS (Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Research and Science) is a year-round internship program designed to guide students from undergraduate to graduate school while increasing diversity within the atmospheric and related sciences. At its heart, SOARS is an 11-week summer internship where the students, known as protégés, work on a genuine research project with the guidance of a mentoring team that includes research, writing, computing, community, and peer mentors.
The students present their projects during the final week of the summer program, which, this year, was on Monday, July 28. Protégés presented their research to an audience of NCAR scientists and mentors. Our NSF program officer, Bernard Grant, flew in for the event. Friends, family, and the NSF community connected to the event via webcast. The students shone. Their research was well conducted and well-articulated, their presentations polished and their enthusiasm contagious. On Thursday, they joined interns from our sister programs RESESS (Earth science), NEON (ecological sciences), RECCS (community college), DCERC (data curation for education), and PRECIP (pre-college) for a fantastic poster session and celebration of their summer research. These fifty-six talented interns and their posters left us confident that the future of science is in good hands.
As the summer program drew to a close on Friday, August 1, we gathered for final reflection and review, which, for me, was quite poignant. This was a time for the protégés to help guide the program's future and share in self and group reflection. We heard things like, "This experience has changed my life," and "I have found my niche," and "I know I want to do research." These statements are why we run SOARS.
So this is farewell to the SOARS 2014 contingent - for now. Thank you to the protégés and to our amazing mentors for commiting fully to this challenging program and making the 2014 SOARS program great! We look forward to seeing you at conferences, collaborating with you in research, and watching you soar!