Rickey Davis, Howard University News Service
WASHINGTON — Hundreds of faculty, students and government officials came to Howard University for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) 9th Biennial Educational and Science Forum held from March 18-23. The four-day conference helped attendees establish connections, share their research, and increase their technical skills all to help prepare them to become highly skilled candidates for the NOAA Mission Enterprise workforce.
Pictured L to R: Louis Uccellini, assistant administrator for weather services, National Weather Service; US Senator Chris Van Hollen; Vernon Morris, Ph.D., director of the NOAA Cooperative Science Center in Atmospheric Sciences & Meteorology. Contributed Photo.
The forum included 150 technical presentations, workshops and events that provided students with opportunities to engage with professionals in hopes they would continue to be inspired to reach their career goals. Since 2001, NOAA-supported institutions have graduated over 2,000 students in NOAA mission fields, with 70 percent of them coming from communities that are traditionally underrepresented in NOAA mission fields, including African American, Hispanic, and Native American.
“The conference was important, because we got a chance to see other students’ research who are a part of NOAA, connect with students from similar backgrounds, collaborate ideas for future projects, and potentially gain a mentor,” said Hampton University sophomore, Isaiah Milton. He studies marine and environmental sciences, and he is a member of the NOAA Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center.
The forum brought together individuals from all four NOAA Cooperative Science Centers, which are designed to support efforts to contribute to the agency’s scientific community. Centers are led by Howard University, Florida A&M University, City College of the City University of New York and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Each institution partners with 24 additional universities to help train diverse students in core coastal and marine ecosystems, atmospheric sciences, meteorology, living marine resources, earth system sciences and remote sensing technology.
The director of the Eastern Region National Weather Service, Jason Tuell, stated “We need to encourage women and minorities in STEM-related field, because we do not see enough diversity, so forums, such as the EPP/MSI, are important for increasing the representation within our workforce.”
Vernon Morris, Ph.D., director of the NOAA Cooperative Science Center in Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology (NCAS-M) at Howard University, led the organization of the forum. “We wanted students to showcase their research, network with industry professionals and build relationships with students across the spectrum,” he said.
The center’s partnership with NOAA boasts remarkable accomplishments, including Howard University being the nation’s leading producer of African Americans and Latinas with Ph.D.s in atmospheric sciences and the only academic institution with a World Meteorological designation as a site for Global Reference Upper Air Climate Measurements.
NOAA employs more than 10,000 scientists, researchers, and administrators around the world, and NOAA officials are highly motivated to increase the number of minority students who are qualified to establish careers at the agency.
Director of NOAA’s National Weather Service Louis W. Uccellini has worked at the agency since 1989, and he supports increasing diversity in science fields. “I made a decision to dedicate myself to serving the educational community as much as possible outside of just financial support. My goal was to help serve the underprivileged community, so they will be excited about seeking a career opportunity in the climate weather world.”