Meteorology sophomore Starlette Williams named SOARS protege

Starlette Williams, a sophomore in the School of Meteorology, has been named as a SOARS protégé. The SOARS program is a nationally competitive program supported by the National Science Foundation with the intent of broadening participation in the atmospheric and related sciences. Protégés spend ten weeks conducting original research at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) or at laboratories of other SOARS sponsors. The protégés are mentored by top scientists in a diverse, inclusive, and supportive learning community. At the end of the summer, the protégés will prepare scientific papers and present their research at a colloquium. The program can include up to 4 summers, and also provides students with a smooth transition to graduate school. According to the program description, “SOARS offers each protégé up to five mentors: a research mentor, a writing mentor, a computing mentor, a coach, and a peer mentor. Research shows that this comprehensive, multi-dimensional mentoring is a key contributor to the continued success of SOARS protégés.”

We spoke to Williams about the award, and how she came to apply for it: “The SOARS program came to light for me through Dr. Parsons and meeting up with him for advisement and to talk about my future. He happened to mention it to me along with other interesting positions I should apply for, but he really hit home the beauty that the SOARS program can offer to a student with a strong interest in continuing their education and becoming a research scientist. A little time passed and I went and looks through the program’s website and was amazed at what the program does for the student. It an internship where the student gets to help conduct research but it is presented in such an interesting way that I have not seen another internship program do: a prime focus on the student. SOARS really drew me into it because it is an internship created to build me up as a student, rather than just make me the coffee runner.”  She also told us that she is “ecstatic” to be doing research in Meteorology, and has been interested in Meteorology since the brightly colored radar images on TV caught her attention as a child. When asked about her advice for someone who would like to pursue a similar path, Williams emphasized the importance of building relationships within the department, particularly with the staff. She encourages other students to take the time to connect with people and “build a support system that goes both ways”, which she refers to as her Squall Line Squad, because of the support of many individuals coming together to be something forceful. Williams said that she is most looking forward to the people she is going to meet, as “Meteorology is a small field but even with that, there are so many great minds out there to connect with. I just want to experience other people and what they want to offer to the future of meteorology and its surrounding communities. One of the prime focuses of SOARS is to build up your connections with people and networks across the United States, and I am making that one of my focuses while I am there.” She also mentioned that she’d like to see a bear!

We offer our heartiest congratulations to Starlette Williams and the other SOARS proteges of 2018. Over 90% of SOARS protégés have gone on to graduate school, and the SOARS approach of research, mentoring, and community has been effective in producing scientific leaders who can see science as an opportunity to contribute to a better world.