Related Research Areas
Climate Variability & Change

We propose a new program of undergraduate research experience that will provide students from the natural sciences and engineering with opportunities to design, complete, and present research projects in global climate change science. Our proposed program is founded on the principle that direct research experience at the undergraduate level is key to developing the enthusiasm, technical skills, and understanding of the scientific method to succeed in both advanced degree programs and in workforce positions in the area of climate change science, policy, and education. Students will use their own observations and measurements as well as NASA models and data products to study the biophysical and biogeochemical interactions of terrestrial ecosystems and the climate system. Student research projects will build on the PIs’ current research and may include: 1) effects of climate change on forest disturbances (fire, drought, insect outbreaks) and their feedbacks to the climate system, 2) regional changes in phenology associated with recent warming, 3) linking remote sensing to eddy covariance measurements of forest carbon and energy fluxes, and 4) changes in plant and soil processes due to experimental warming. Our program primarily addresses Goal 3, Research Experiences for Undergraduate or Community College Students, while also addressing Goal 2, Using NASA Earth system data and models to Strengthen Teaching and Learning about Global Climate Change. Our program has three focal objectives for undergraduate students: 1) direct research experience, 2) enhanced understanding of global climate change science, and 3) development of presentation skills. More generally, the program will enhance undergraduate preparation for graduate education and the workforce and instill a sense of membership in the broader scientific community. Student participants (sophomore or junior level) will be selected on the basis of their academic record, a statement of interest, a personal interview, and with the goal of having a diverse cohort of natural science and engineering majors, including those from groups underrepresented in the sciences and engineering. Students will complete a four-semester (fall-spring-summer-fall) sequence of seminar-style classes integrated with their research projects. Seminars will enhance student understanding of global climate change obtained in existing courses and will focus on developing skills in research project design, data analysis, scientific writing, and presentation. Collaborators from U.S. Geological Survey will assist the PIs as research advisors to students and provide technical expertise on NASA models and data products. Students will present their research at both local and national scientific meetings as well as to K-12 classrooms in the local school system in order to gain experience communicating their studies to audiences with a range of scientific backgrounds. The project will be managed by the three PIs, each of whom is active in research and teaching in the area of global climate change science. The PIs will serve as research mentors, will lead weekly seminars, coordinate interactions with partners and collaborators, and accompany students to scientific meetings. A Program Coordinator will manage the budget, assist with the student selection process, make travel arrangements, and coordinate student seminar participation with their individual degree program requirements. An evaluation professional will assess the program’s effectiveness, including tracking student success following completion of the program. Dissemination of the program’s activities and milestones will occur using a dynamic activity-tracking module added to an existing website, an article written for a journal of higher education pedagogy, and indirectly via the students and their mentors interactions with the broader scientific and public communities.

Project PI: Prof. George William Koch/NORTHERN ARIZONA UNIVERSITY

Bld 21 Room 243,Northern Arizona University, South San Francisco Street, Flagstaff, Arizona 86011

Phone: (928)523-7150



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Started: Sep 27, 2010

Last Activity: Jan 04, 2011


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