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STUDENT: Educational Partnership Program -- Building Diverse Capacity by Providing Hands-on Training Experiences

Published Mar 2015

The Educational Partnership Program with Minority Serving Institutions (EPP/MSI) Cooperative Science Center (CSC) students participate in NOAA Experiential Research and Training Opportunities (NERTO). These 21st Century students are preparing for the future workforce at NOAA, other science-mission agencies, and the Nation.

The NOAA EPP/MSI was established in 2001 to increase the number of students, particularly from underrepresented communities, who are trained and graduate with degrees in disciplines that support NOAA’s mission.  An important requirement of the EPP/MSI program is the engagement of program sponsored students in hands-on research and training activities at NOAA facilities.  Students compete for internships where they are immersed in research alongside NOAA scientist and managers.     EPP/MSI graduates are available to bring diverse and innovative talent to NOAA.

Maria Cardona-Maldonado - NOAA Center for Atmospheric Sciences (NCAS), University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus, is a PhD. student in Biological Oceanography.   During February 23 – March 11, 2015 Maria participated in a research cruise aboard the R/V Okeanos Explorer Cruise to Puerto Rico.  In September 2014, Maria sailed on the E/V Nautilus Seamounts Cruise to the British Virgin Islands.  During both research cruises Maria sought to improve her skills in the management and processing of acoustic data from different sonars and use of different data processing and analysis software. The internship has strengthened previously acquired concepts while integrating them with her current bio-optical and remote sensing knowledge and experience.  Her interest in habitat mapping at various scales using acoustic systems was reinforced. Additionally, hands-on experience with various onboard instruments enriched her practical experience with oceanographic field techniques.  Maria found the opportunity to work and learn from leading experts in this area an invaluable experience.  The interaction with research scientists and other interns also led to new contacts with the potential for new collaborative efforts as well as possible points of contact for future professional opportunities at NOAA.  Maria will share the value of her internship experience, as she did after her 2014 E/V Nautilus Expedition, through conferences and at schools in Puerto Rico. She plans to write articles for local newsletters and magazines such as Sea Grant’s Marejadas. Internship Supervisor: Derek Sowers

Maria Cooksey of the NOAA Environmental Cooperative Science Center (ECSC) at the University of Texas - Brownsville, competed successfully for an EPP/MSI internship onboard the R/V Okeanos Explorer.  As a graduate student working on her Master’s in Biology, Maria is studying the benthic invertebrate communities of 5 hard bottom banks on the South Texas continental shelf.  Her research is closely related to NOAA's Ocean Exploration mission.   Maria’s graduate thesis research involves data from a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to record video data of the soft coral and invertebrate communities at the South Texas Banks.   While her work depends heavily on multibeam maps, she has not had the opportunity to learn how to collect or georeference a multibeam sonar image.   Maria believes this internship on the R/V Okeanos Explorer will give her that valuable experience, not only in multibeam data collection and processing, but also develop valuable skills required to work on a research expedition.   Ultimately Maria hopes to correlate invertebrate population data to benthic terrain data from multibeam sonar images to create a habitat suitability model.   Maria is very excited to be able to work for some of NOAA's most prestigious scientists and researchers.  After the expedition, she will share her experience and new skills via webinars/ presentations hosted by the NOAA ECSC. Internship Supervisor: Derek Sowers

Melinda Martinez – Environmental Cooperative Science Center is a Master’s student at Texas A&M University – Corpus ChristiHer research topic focuses on short-term wetland sediment accretion rates on Mustang Island, Texas where she is examining sedimentation rates over a range of time scales to provide insight into the factors that control marsh elevation and sedimentation processes.   Melinda’s interests include coastal research, using Geographic Information System, remote sensing, and field techniques for inventory and monitoring of the coastal environment.  During her internship on the R/V Nautilus she will learn how to process digital data to help create useful information.  Melinda will learn how the multibeam echosounder sonar collects data, such as surface sediment characteristics, and how it is used these data to locate hydrothermal vents or oil seeps. She is also interested in ROV deployments and dive planning.   Melida’s research will contribute to the fields of coastal research by providing modern accretion rates and assess the major influences that may be used to improve models used to predict evolutionary changes of coastal wetlands, such as the Sea-Level Affecting Marshes Model (SLAMM).   While aboard the R/V Nautilus, Melinda will share information about her experiences through a daily blog that will also be disseminated through the NOAA ECSC website and Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies webpage through the Coastal and Marine Geospatial Lab blog. Internship Supervisors: Nicole Raineault & Allison Fundis

Kafayat Olayinka - NOAA Center for Atmospheric Sciences (NCAS) is a graduate student at Howard Univerity, who participated in the  NOAA CALWATER2 Cruise aboard the NOAA ship Ronald H. Brown from January 14 – February 13, 2015.  As a student scientist, Kafayat had the opportunity to collaborate with NOAA scientists investigating the atmospheric river and its impact on the northern United States.  The focus of the cruise was to validate the satellite imagery of the “Atmospheric River”.   Kafayat was responsible for launching weather balloons attached to a RS92 &/ Ozonesonde to investigate the condition and composition of the atmosphere particular points.   This internship was a good opportunity for Kafayat to strengthen her knowledge and experience in air quality monitoring. The internship increased her interest in the importance of satellite validation and data analysis.It is also an opportunity to learn the usefulness of scientific instruments onboard a research vessel and to measure the composition of the atmosphere and ocean. Meeting other scientists from NOAA who were conducting atmospheric research was a great opportunity for this budding scientist to conduct collaborative work and to better prepare her for her professional career – perhaps at NOAA.  Kafayat shared her experiences along with data retrieved from the cruise with colleagues and faculty at NCAS.  She plans to present results from the cruise at the Howard University Research Day in April 2015 and write articles on the Ozone climatology in land versus ocean. Internship Supervisor: Vernon Morris

Sabrina Persaud, is a NOAA Environmental Cooperative Science Center (ECSC), Florida A&M University College of Law second year student, pursuing a Juris Doctorate degree.  As a NOAA ECSC (Human Dimensions focal area) student, Sabrina’s eyes and mind were opened to the field of environmental law as an area in which she will consider practicing. Sabrina has accepted the offer from the Office of General Council Southeast Section (GCSE) as an Educational Partnership Program Legal Intern. During this 10-week summer internship, Sabrina will be immersed in: developing an annotation to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), creating an office manual on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora; other assignments that may include reviewing MSA actions, and rules, reviewing Endangered Species Act rules and consultations; and have the option to attend meetings of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic Fishery Management Councils.  Sabrina expects to hone her research skills, learn more about fisheries management and the rules and regulations that govern fisheries, and be exposed to some aspects of international environmental law.  Internship Supervisor: Mara Levy.

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