A grant from the National Science Foundation will support a four-year continuation of the collaborative undergraduate research program led by Hobart and William Smith Colleges that explores atmospheric and related sciences.
Awarded to HWS as part of the Northeast Partnership for Atmospheric and Related Sciences (NEPARS) Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU), the $531,693 grant will support a large number of paid summer research opportunities for undergraduate participants, as well as additional paid positions for several students to join the group as REU program assistants.
“This grant highlights the outstanding scientific research that our faculty participate in and the unique opportunities that research makes available for our students,” says HWS Provost and Dean of Faculty Mary Coffey. “It underscores the efficacy and importance of the model of education that we provide and the exemplary pedagogy and innovative research that faculty members work so hard to deliver. HWS professors, often in close collaboration with students, are making scientific advances that are truly changing the world.”
“The NEPARS REU program at HWS is a nice complement to the HWS Summer Research program and provides great research opportunities for HWS students to work alongside undergraduates that come to campus for the summer from colleges and universities across the United States,” says Professor of Geoscience Neil Laird, the project’s director and one of the several research mentors. “It is an enriching experience for our students and the Geoscience faculty that participate.”
The program is a collaborative effort between HWS and Plymouth State University that will bring faculty research mentors from both institutions together with over 55 undergraduate students from across the country during the four-year grant which funds 12 undergraduate participants and two REU program assistants each summer.
“HWS and PSU both act as research locations by hosting six undergraduate research participants each summer that work on research projects led by faculty mentors in atmospheric and related sciences,” Laird explains.
Additionally, NEPARS works with the Mount Washington Observatory and the Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Science at SUNY Albany, bringing students to Albany, N.Y., and the White Mountains in New Hampshire each summer to learn about the variety of career and graduate school opportunities in the Atmospheric and Related Sciences.
This grant is the second from NSF to fund the NEPARS REU site, which began in 2018. The NEPARS REU was built on the foundation established from the research opportunities that Laird and Associate Professor of Geoscience Nicholas Metz have been providing in atmospheric science undergraduate research since they began at HWS in 2004 and 2011, respectively.
The program is designed to promote an understanding and appreciation of the process of conducting scientific research through close participant-mentor collaboration in all aspects of each project, ranging from hypothesis development to peer-reviewed publication.
“Providing meaningful opportunities for undergraduate research has been a passion of mine since beginning at HWS nearly 16 years ago,” says Laird, noting that the NSF grants for NEPARS have increased those opportunities for HWS students and brought “widespread recognition to the Colleges” as well as “a liberal arts approach to conducting undergraduate research in Atmospheric Science; a discipline that is unique to offer on a small liberal arts college campus.”