Two Meteorology Juniors Named SOARS Proteges

Two Meteorology Juniors Named SOARS Proteges

Taylor Stephenson and Ariel Jacobs have been named SOARS proteges! 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 with both applicants about their acceptance and what made them pursue the program. Taylor told us about why she decided to apply: “I had never heard about SOARS before October 2019. My professor, Dr. Amanda Kis, recommended the program to me so I decided to apply. The program benefits people who look like me, black people, and women, and I was excited to meet other minority STEM majors. In this field as a whole, diversity is severely lacking.” Ariel advised other students to apply multiple times, if necessary: “If you are not successful the first time, apply again! I was rejected during my sophomore year” because there is an “emphasis on an inclusive environment and building a community of scientists. I want to perform research in a supportive and welcoming environment.”

When we asked about research, Taylor told us: “Since we get to conduct the research of our choice, I want to study pollution near airports and landfills. Airports and landfills are systemically placed in underserved and minority communities so maybe eventually, I can study the effects of pollution in these neighborhoods compared to affluent and white communities.”

These two students have different plans after graduation: while Taylor plans to use the research experience to showcase how well-rounded she is for broadcast opportunities, Ariel plans to attend graduate school and eventually become a professor: “I am very excited for the opportunity to learn and grow as a scientific researcher and to join a community of people who are just as passionate about atmospheric science!”

We offer our heartiest congratulations to Ariel, Taylor, and the other SOARS proteges of 2020. Unfortunately, their research experience will be delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but we want to honor their selection and the great work we know they’ll do when things resume. 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.