2014 NOAA Educational Partnership Program Education & Science Forum: 5 highlights
1.) Plentiful and diverse networking and professional development opportunities for students. The Forum began with a professional development session, as well as a ‘speed mentoring session’, during which students received career advice from NOAA and Cooperative Science Center professionals, along with their peers. Interactive sessions were held during the week on how to build collaborative relationships, preparing for opportunities in the public and private sectors, writing successful research proposals, and more. Students learned both in formal professional development sessions and through networking opportunities.
2.) Outstanding oral and poster presentations by students from all four NOAA Cooperative Science Centers. Technical sessions were held for each of NOAA’s long term goals: healthy oceans; weather-ready nation; climate adaptation & migration; and resilient coastal communities and economies. Students from undergraduate to Ph.D. level and post-doctorates presented their NOAA-related research, and there were lively discussions and ample opportunities for the cross-pollination of ideas. As NOAA has a broad mission of understanding and predicting the earth system and managing and conserving natural resources, the agency depends on interdisciplinary collaboration. Learning to think collaboratively early in the career will be an advantage for students to compete in the STEM workforce and solve the complex problems of tomorrow.
3.) An inspiring keynote address from Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, NOAA Administrator, on the critical role of science in fostering ecological, social and economic resilience and environmental intelligence.
She emphasized the role of the NOAA Cooperative Science Centers in driving regional scientific knowledge and providing tangible benefits to society. Other distinguished guest speakers included Dr. Joann Boughman, Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs of the University of Maryland System, Dr. Juliette Bell, President of University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Representative Andy Harris (R-MD-1st), and Dr. Richard Spinrad, NOAA Chief Scientist. A press conference was held to allow the media to ask questions of NOAA, university and policymakers.
4.) Invaluable advice from alumni. NOAA Educational Partnership Program (EPP) alumni from each of the four Cooperative Science Centers and the undergraduate and graduate scholarship programs participated in the event and were excellent resources for the students. Many alumni served as panelists or led professional development sessions. Lonnie Gonsalves, an alumnus of the Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center (LMRCSC), co-led a session on how to initiate and build professional relationships, based on his experience at the NOAA Oxford Cooperative Laboratory. Emily Tewes, an LMRCSC alumna, spoke to students about her experience as a Knauss Marine Policy Fellow and gave advice to those considering applying for the Fellowship. EPP alumni Drs. DaNa Carlis and Ayeisha Brinson gave inspiring presentations about their career journeys and the challenges they overcame. And, most importantly, alumni sat with current students during meals and networking sessions to talk and answer questions from the students.
5.) Final award presentation. At the conclusion of the Forum, Dr. Jennifer Keane-Dawes, Dean of Graduate Studies at UMES, and Dr. Juliette Bell, President of University of Maryland Eastern Shore, presented awards for outstanding oral and poster presentations in each technical session. All students received constructive feedback from the judges on their presentations, which they may use to prepare for national conferences and to enter the STEM workforce. At the end of the ceremony, all of the award winners were presented certificates and posed for a photo on stage with Dr. Juliette Bell.