Student Research Reveals Climate Realities

Student Research Reveals Climate Realities

In May, ten students from around the nation gathered at the University of South Florida (USF) for an intensive nine-week research experience on the Weather, Climate, and Society REU hosted by USF professors, Dr. Jennifer Collins and Dr. Robin Ersing.

The Weather, Climate, and Society REU research program is designed to provide undergraduate students experience they can take with them to advance their careers. Program coordinators specifically target lowerclassmen (rising sophomores), community college students, and non-STEM majors to give an earlier experience with topics under the umbrella of weather, climate, and society. The program focuses on the physical and social sciences.

Program leaders partnered with Tampa Housing Authority and had participating students go out in the field and survey residents about their experience with hurricanes. Students also visited Ft. De Soto in St. Petersburg, FL. There, the students had the opportunity to speak with Park Supervisor Jim Wilson about the different weather and climate conditions that have affected the park over the years.

Student interviewing

Currently, program participants are spending time investigating water quality data from the USF area, as well as data from Haiti. Students are also hunting for carbon dioxide concentrating mechanism components in the genome of a marine sulfur-oxidizing bacterium.

As an added bonus to the already immersive experience, the students are provided research mentors to guide their experience during the program. These mentors provide initial ideas and guide REU students through the research process from formulating a research question, collection of data, analyses, through dissemination of research. Students are able to tweak their projects based on the data acquired and their own personal interests. Research mentors stay in touch with the students after the program providing an additional support arm to them. This year’s faculty research mentors include Drs. Jennifer Collins, Robin Ersing, Katie Scott, Beverly Ward, and Javier Cuevas. They were joined by graduate student mentors, as well as some REU alumni from last year's cohort.

Students in the REU program, "gain more knowledge about the weather, climate, and society, as well as the research process," said Dr. Jennifer Collins, program coordinator and Professor of Geosciences at USF. "They have been introduced to certain research techniques and software to help them with statistics and spatial analyses," she continued. "It is our hope that students leave the summer program with a better sense of direction with regards to their academic goals and with a research experience that will set them apart from their peers and catapult them forward in their academic careers."

Published on: 7/22/2019