Each year, NOAA AOML welcomes a group of talented students from across the country to join our team by way of summer internships. Seventeen highly motivated students have traveled to our laboratory in Miami to work alongside leading oceanic and atmospheric research scientists. NOAA internships, scholarships, and fellowships provide students with an unparalleled opportunity to develop and fine tune their research and field skills, giving them a glimpse of what it takes to establish a professional career in a federal research laboratory. Each student works side by side with a AOML mentor, who help to advise the students along their chosen scientific career paths and various research projects. Here at AOML, these career opportunities include jobs in physical oceanography, ocean chemistry and ecosystems, hurricane research, engineering, computer science and communications.
Our 2017 summer interns run the gamut from high school students to PhD candidates, including those who have been awarded NOAA CREST fellowships and NOAA Hollings scholarships. These scholarships provide students with academic assistance in addition to full-time paid internships at NOAA laboratories over the summer, helping them to gain professional experience and research training. Our students hail from across the nation, spanning many different educational institutions and backgrounds.
One of our Hollings Scholars, undergraduate Emily Paltz, is working for the hurricane research division of our lab, where she is analyzing data collected by thousands of dropsondes released from NOAA’s Hurricane Hunter aircrafts since 1996. What excites her most about her internship with NOAA are the opportunities it has provided for growth and how it has challenged her to think critically. Her time at NOAA has also allowed her to strengthen her interpersonal skills and scientific communication skills. PhD candidate and NOAA CREST Fellow Andrea Gomez is working in the Ocean Chemistry and Ecosystems Division. Her research focus is on evaluating coral bleaching in south Florida and Puerto Rico by comparing in situ and satellite-based seawater temperatures and light levels. What excites Andrea most about this internship is the opportunity to conduct fieldwork, and familiarize herself with Atlantic and Caribbean coral species.
Undergraduate Michael Goldberg took on his third internship at AOML this summer, this time accompanied by his younger brother David Goldberg. Together, they work in the microbiology lab as intern assistants, processing water, sediment, and coral polyp samples. Both brothers agree that one of the highlights of interning with a NOAA research lab is learning to be self-sufficient. AOML has provided them with “a comfortable learning environment. NOAA understands the learning aspect of being a student intern, and the mentors are really here to help cultivate your interests” explains Michael.
Many of the research projects being completed by our student interns contribute to important current and future NOAA research efforts. Internships at NOAA have made a significant impact on the rising generation of federal scientists, and 75% of NOAA undergraduate scholarship alumni pursue graduate degrees. In addition, these internship opportunities provide invaluable hands-on, practical experience with NOAA related science, helping to prepare some of the brightest minds for lasting careers within NOAA.
Originally Published July 2017 by Sierra Sarkis