Two groups of UTEP researchers are leading local efforts that are part of a national movement to increase the number of minorities graduating with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) degrees and making a difference in solving real-world environmental problems through research.
The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office of Education awarded a total of $11.9 million in grants to four lead minority-serving institutions across the country. These institutions partnered with 24 other schools to establish four cooperative science centers. UTEP is included in two of those cohorts and will receive more than $1.4 million over five years.
Funds will be used to educate and graduate students who pursue degree programs with applied research in NOAA mission-related scientific fields. The centers will train students in earth system sciences and remote sensing technology, coastal and marine ecosystems, living marine resources, and atmospheric sciences and meteorology – all core science fields for NOAA.
“The excitement and true value of these programs provides students with an opportunity to help NOAA solve real-world problems in the realms of earth sciences and environmental intelligence,” said Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D., NOAA administrator.
Miguel Velez-Reyes, Ph.D., professor and department chair in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UTEP, and Craig Tweedie, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and director of the Environmental Science and Engineering Program, are leading a UTEP team alongside partners at City College of New York (lead institution), Hampton University, University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez, University of Maryland – Baltimore County, and San Diego State University as part of the Center for Earth Systems Sciences and Remote Sensing Technologies (CREST).
“NOAA CREST provides UTEP undergraduate students a unique opportunity by engaging in education and training in NOAA mission science, which focus on earth system sciences and remote sensing technologies,” said Miguel Velez-Reyes, Ph.D., UTEP NOAA CREST campus director. “Students not only build core competency in research and curriculum, but also gain hands-on research experience. Students benefit from a synergistic collaboration between federal, academia and private sectors that CREST brings to its partner institutions. CREST also provides internships in NOAA facilities that enhance students’ technical skill sets to make them job-ready.”
Rosa Fitzgerald, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Physics, with the participation of Tom Gill, Ph.D., professor of geological sciences, and William Stockwell, Ph.D., research professor from the Department of Physics, are working with the NOAA Center for Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology (NCAS-M) with colleagues from Howard University (lead institution), Jackson State University, Pennsylvania State University, San Jose State University, State University of New York at Albany, University of Maryland – Baltimore County, University of Maryland – College Park, and University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez.
“The primary goals for this award are to perform innovative research in atmospheric sciences and to produce a diverse and highly skilled cadre of scientists and environmentally literate professionals who will help shape the nation’s future by using a comprehensive understanding of the role of the atmosphere in the global ecosystem,” Fitzgerald said.