1. Rebecca Batchelor
  2. SOARS Program Director
  3. SOARS
  4. http://soars.ucar.edu/
  5. University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
  1. Lorena Medina Luna
  2. Education and Outreach Specialist
  3. SOARS
  4. http://soars.ucar.edu/
  5. University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Rebecca Batchelor

    Rebecca Batchelor

    Lead Presenter
    May 13, 2018 | 11:34 p.m.

    Hi, I'm Rebecca (Bec) Batchelor, the director of the SOARS program, and my colleague Lorena Medina Luna is co-presenting this video with me. Both of us are based at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) in Boulder, Colorado, and are proud to serve the university community in supporting the next generation of diverse leaders in the field. SOARS was established more than two decades ago and what we have learned is that it takes a sustained effort from our community - universities, government, professional organizations, families and industry - to make the field a place where everyone can contribute their best science. We are very proud of our alumni who are stepping into leadership roles across STEM, continuing to engage with SOARS, and "paying it forward" by supporting and mentoring others. Some of them even helped us create this video!  We look forward to hearing your questions about the program and seeing how we might partner with you.

  • Icon for: Jay Labov

    Jay Labov

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2018 | 11:02 a.m.

    Thank you very much for contributing this video for this event. You raise important points about low participation in atmospheric sciences by students from historically underrepresented groups and how SOARS is attempting to address this problem. I think it would be helpful to others who view this video if you could answer the following questions:

    - What kind of preparation is most helpful at the undergraduate level (and earlier) prior to their becoming a protégé? Are there specific pathways through math and particular scientific disciplines that would help prepare students to become interested in the SOARS program and to help them succeed in it?

    - If the students whom you seek are already underrepresented in the atmospheric sciences, from which college and university programs do you recruit? For example, how might faculty in the life sciences learn about SOARS? What about the social sciences and humanities (since the issues associated with atmospheric science are very much connected with disciplines in those areas)?

    Thank you again for providing this very important information about your program!

  • Icon for: Rebecca Batchelor

    Rebecca Batchelor

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 12:55 p.m.

    Hi Jay

    These are great questions.  Atmospheric science is a discipline that encompasses many of the STEM disciplines (and, as you mentioned, some humanities too), so there is no one "right way" to our field. SOARS proteges come from universities and colleges across the nation and usually come in with majors in atmospheric science, meteorology, geography, math, engineering, physics or chemistry, though we do occasionally get social scientists with an interest in the atmospheric sciences. As such, their background preparation does vary considerably. We work to find projects that fit the individual's interest, and support them in developing skills they might need, for instance by providing a computing and a writing mentor. This is an advantage of being at a national lab like NCAR where our scientist-mentors also have broad expertise and backgrounds. For a student interested in the atmospheric and related sciences, I would say that having experience with some sort of physical science and math courses and some form of programming definitely makes the transition to research a bit easier, and my advice to all students who are interested in a career in STEM, whatever field they are interested in, is to try and get some computational experience, whether as part of your major or through an online course.

    Our recruiting strategy is multi-faceted. Word of mouth, from our proteges, alumni and the very many professors who have worked with our students over the last two decades remains the most valuable. We are lucky to be part of UCAR - the University Collaboration for Atmospheric Research - which is a collaboration of nearly all the universities with atmospheric science and meteorology programs. We also recruit at meetings specific to our field (e.g. AMS, AGU) and at broader conferences aimed at supporting underrepresented students in STEM (e.g. SACNAS). You are right that reaching students and faculty who might not be at these sort of meetings or already involved in atmospheric science is harder, and in recent years we have been working with partners in the REU community to talk about undergraduate research and internship opportunities more generally with 2 year and other college students and faculty through webinars, listserves, talking at meetings and workshops. Thankfully our reach seems to be good - over the 22 years SOARS has been running, our ~ 200 proteges have come from more than 75 institutions. 

    You also raise a great question regarding the social sciences and humanities. We definitely see the interest in the intersection of social and physical sciences from our proteges, and meeting the demand for research projects in this space is sometimes a bit tricky. I would love to see more graduate programs that offer (funded) opportunities in this area, as doing science for the benefit of society is without doubt a motivator for many of our proteges and applicants and is a great fit for the atmospheric science field.

    Thanks for engaging, and please don't hesitate to get in touch if you have more questions.

     
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    Danielle Watt
  • Icon for: Jay Labov

    Jay Labov

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2018 | 10:43 a.m.

    Thank you for this very detailed and helpful response!

    Jay

  • Icon for: Danielle Watt

    Danielle Watt

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2018 | 07:00 p.m.

    Thank you for sharing your program! Since you have been able to sustain for 20 years, could you comment on sustainability efforts- especially your success and possibly challenges?

  • Icon for: Rebecca Batchelor

    Rebecca Batchelor

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 01:01 p.m.

    Thanks for watching! Long-term investment is vital in a program like this, because it just takes time for an undergraduate to become a graduate to become a postdoc and to end up in leadership positions. We've been very fortunate to have funding support for so long, and our alumni are now in faculty positions, becoming leaders in companies and rising within the federal government.  A success has been maintaining relationships with our proteges as they move beyond the summer program, and we have a very engaged alumni. Because they can participate in the program for multiple years, there are strong personal connections across cohorts, and we work hard to connect them across the decades the program has been running, for instance through gatherings at national meetings, invitations to serve as speakers and mentors and through emails, newsletters and a closed facebook space.  I think for many programs keeping a connection with alumni and tracking their career paths is a challenge, especially with short-term funding cycles. Technology has helped in this realm (especially linked in, facebook and similar). An interesting but exciting challenge has been how we keep our mentoring relevant for ALL our proteges - while we were established to support undergraduates moving into graduate school and we now know how to do this pretty well, we continue to be mentors and career coaches for our alumni, so also do our best to keep abreast with initiatives and research on supporting, for example, early career minority faculty. It has been fun to share ideas and resources with them on supporting their own undergraduate and graduate students, and gratifying to see them handing their own experiences in SOARS to the next generation. 

     
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    Danielle Watt
  • Icon for: Whitney Erby

    Whitney Erby

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2018 | 07:30 p.m.

    SOARS seems like an amazing program. Could you talk a bit more about the whole-student approach you mention? Mentoring seems like a large component of the program. How do you match students with mentors? How do you support students and keep them engaged in the program and in STEM as a career interest, especially given the unique challenges underrepresented students may face? 

  • May 16, 2018 | 01:53 a.m.

    Along those lines, I am interested in knowing more about how you prepare the mentors.  Do you provide any training opportunities for them?

  • Icon for: Danielle Espino

    Danielle Espino

    IC4 Project Manager
    May 16, 2018 | 02:47 a.m.

    Excellent and informative video! Thank you for this commitment to diversifying the degree attainment in STEM. I thought the model for mentoring was very interesting. How was that developed? Kudos on your impactful and encouraging work, Bec and Lorena

  • Icon for: Rebecca Batchelor

    Rebecca Batchelor

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 04:50 p.m.

    Hi Whitney, Brittany and Danielle - thank you for watching, and for your great questions.  The mentoring model was designed very consciously in the development of SOARS by psychologist and founding director, Thomas Windham (working with then UCAR President and atmospheric scientist Rick Anthes), to address some of the many challenges faced by underrepresented students. A network of mentors not only gives our students training in research, communication and computing, but also gives them a strong support network. The coach and peer mentor roles both specifically look out for well-being of the students and look to support the whole person (as does our staff!). The founders also identified community as an essential part of supporting the whole student, and we work hard to build that community, not just with the current cohort but also with the alumni network.  Our SOARS team also provides ongoing  mentoring, writing support and career coaching to our proteges year round, and whenever they may need it, even decades after they were officially "in SOARS". This has proven to be helpful for keeping them in the field and sharing/building connections.

    Regarding mentor selection and training, we use a mix of volunteers and some specific targeting. It is our practice to first identify our students (we have a 12 person steering committee who are fantastic at that) and to then find them research projects that align with their interest. It is a huge advantage for us that we have so many scientists here in Boulder!  We put a lot of effort into making what we hope are good matches (the SOARS staff do this, not the mentors). Many of our mentors have been mentors for many years, and it's nice with our mentoring model to be able to bring experienced mentors together with new ones.  For training, our SOARS team meet individually with each protege's mentoring team before the summer starts. This allows us to discuss the program, mentoring techniques, particular challenges faced by underrepresented students and share resources, while also focusing on the individual student and defining their research project. Through the summer we share weekly emails about the program, including mentoring tips, check in with our mentors and have a couple of brown bag lunches.  We really appreciate the time and effort our mentors put into the success of each and every one of our proteges, and the support of our leadership who encourage so many of our scientists and staff to volunteer their time to the program.  

     

     
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    Danielle Watt
  • May 16, 2018 | 08:18 p.m.

    SOARS sounds like a wonderful project, with a lot of similarity to our Cal-Bridge program in physics and astronomy (http://stemforall2018.videohall.com/presentatio...). In particular, the emphasis on comprehensive mentoring and research experiences are key elements of our program as well. I would love to come visit CU Boulder and maybe spend some time sharing ideas about how we might learn from each other.

     
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    Lorena Medina Luna
  • Icon for: Lorena Medina Luna

    Lorena Medina Luna

    Co-Presenter
    May 17, 2018 | 12:27 p.m.

    Dear Alexander, 

    Your Cal-Bridge program sounds so great from your video! Thank you for sharing and I'm happy to meet whenever you are in town! 

    Lorena

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Alexander Rudolph
  • May 17, 2018 | 10:59 a.m.

    Hi Rebecca -

    It is so fun to see SOARS alumni working at UCAR and mentoring new SOARS students.  Congratulations on a long and successful program.  I'd love to hear more about how you are mentoring the  folks in their careers.   I'm also interested in what the older mentors are learning from the younger mentors and the students.  I would guess this is having a profound impact on the culture, making  people feel connected, and accelerating innovation.  Is that true? 

     
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    Alexander Rudolph
  • Icon for: Rebecca Batchelor

    Rebecca Batchelor

    Lead Presenter
    May 18, 2018 | 06:11 a.m.

    Hi Cathryn,

    Thanks for watching and your thoughtful questions.  For our alumni, the support they need varies a lot, but is most often needed during periods of change - for instance having someone to talk through moves between MS and PhD programs or a career transition, or perhaps having someone to read through postdoc applications and offer suggestions. It has also proven valuable for some of our alumni to have someone to talk through challenging situations who is fully independent of the workplace.  We have also been able to share resources regarding mentoring and structuring student research as our alumni start to work with students themselves.

    Your question about what the older mentors are learning from the younger mentors and students is also a good one. We have informally started to survey the mentors, and many of them say that the students bring enthusiasm and new ideas which helps revitalize their own interest, gives them the opportunity to explore new ideas that they may not have thought about or had time to pursue, and strengthens their commitment to diversity and inclusion. A lot of them also acknowledge the new relationships that they have been able to develop with other mentors, as the multi-mentoring structure brings people together that may not have previously known or had the chance to work together. Over the years many of our mentors have moved between NCAR and academia (the NCAR postdocs frequently mentor for SOARS) and it is great to see some of them also recruiting and supporting our students in graduate school and beyond.

    While UCAR is surveying the culture of our organization, we have not specifically looked at the impact of SOARS on that culture - that would be a great question for future research!

  • May 18, 2018 | 11:38 a.m.

    Thank you.  Our EarthConnections Includes project is also focusing on long term mentoring and we are excited to learn from you.  http://stemforall2018.videohall.com/presentatio...

    Cathy

  • May 17, 2018 | 04:51 p.m.

    I'm a great fan of this program model, especially the multi-mentor model.  It shares the load - working with a summer student is intense! - and makes sure that none of the important functions of mentoring and socialization into the different parts of a researcher's job get missed.  It is great to see the success of some SOARS alums in the video.

  • Icon for: Rebecca Batchelor

    Rebecca Batchelor

    Lead Presenter
    May 18, 2018 | 06:13 a.m.

    Thanks Sandra - I agree, the multi-mentor model is a win all around, allowing mentors to share the workload and covering periods of travel and vacation, while also giving the students many different perspectives on science and careers!

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.