Contributions of co-curricular summer research programs to my professional growth

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Kori D Moore, Space Dynamics Laboratory, North Logan, UT, United States
The co-curricular summer research program, in which I was involved over three summers as an undergraduate student, greatly benefited me. In this paper I will briefly describe the program and how the experience contributed to my value and growth.

The U.S. Department of Energy operated the Global Change Education Program (GCEP), from 1999-2013, as an outreach to both undergraduate and graduate students. Its goals were to: provide students with hands-on research experience in a one-on-one setting with leaders in global change fields, encourage undergraduate students to enter graduate school, and increase the number of high quality U.S. scientists. I took part in GCEP as a Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) Fellow. Each Fellow was teamed with a scientist to conduct research over the summer. I spent one summer at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, WA working with Dr. William Shaw. The next two summers I spent working at Aerodyne Research, Inc. in Billerica, MA with Dr. Leah Williams.

My experiences as a SURE Fellow have benefitted me in many ways.

  • The research presentations, required of SURE Fellows, helped to improve my presentation skills.
  • The GCEP workshops expanded the scope of my knowledge about global change impacts at all scales.
  • I was involved in two large, collaborative field studies, which provided experiences and examples that have helped me lead my own field studies.
  • I took part in well-functioning research teams, helping me see the value of open communication in collaborative work.
  • My critical and analytical thinking abilities were continually honed.
  • My problem solving skills were challenged in laboratory and field work.
  • I worked with talented professionals and students that are now part of my professional network.
  • My contributions resulted in being a coauthor on two peer-reviewed publications.
  • I was able to experience research teams outside of academia, which included government and private sectors.

The time spent as a SURE Fellow sparked my desire to have a career in environmental research. This desire was a significant factor in my decision to return to school for a PhD, of which I am near completion. I have found my involvement in a co-curricular research program to be very valuable and beneficial in building my skills, network, and confidence.