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ODU Awarded National Undergraduate Research Program in Climate Studies

photo of ODU oceanographers Richard Zimmerman, K.C. Filippino and Rodger HarveyRichard Zimmerman, K.C. Filippino and Rodger Harvey of the OEAS department

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has chosen Old Dominion University's Department of Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences (OEAS) to host a national Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) summer program focusing on climate change and sea level rise.

Current freshmen through juniors from throughout the country are being invited to apply for this summer's inaugural 10-week program. An NSF grant of about $275,000 that was announced earlier this month also will support a second summer for the program in 2015, and ongoing renewal is possible.

A highly competitive process will select up to 10 students for each summer's program. Students from underrepresented groups, or whose undergraduate institutions afford them little opportunity for scientific research experiences, will be especially encouraged to apply.

"This award is good news for the Department of Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, and provides an important linkage, as well, for ODU's Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Initiative (CCSLRI)," said Rodger Harvey, interim vice president for research at ODU and chair of the OEAS department. The subject area for ODU's REU program will be climate change and sea level rise in a coastal, urban environment. Several faculty members affiliated with the initiative will be mentors for the summer program.

Katherine "K.C." Filippino, an assistant research professor in the OEAS department, will be the program director and serve as co-principal investigator with Harvey for the project.

"We are grateful for the opportunity from NSF to launch this research experience for undergraduates," Filippino said. "Through a competitive grant process, NSF funds select sites throughout the country in a variety of scientific disciplines. The REU site at OEAS will be unique, as students will focus their research around the timely and relevant topics of climate change and sea level rise experienced by coastal cities."

The primary element of the REU experience at ODU will thrust undergraduates into a research experience mentored by research-active faculty members. This will expose each participant to several sub-disciplines in ocean sciences, climate modeling and other fields related to the impact of localized climate change. Participants also will receive training in science communication to the public through a project partnership with the Virginia Sea Grant organization.

Harvey pointed out that gains from the program will be reciprocal. The students will benefit from ODU's commitment in OEAS to climate-change research, outreach and education; from a faculty with high standing in numerous oceanography disciplines; from the campus's proximity to the ocean and bay; and from cruises on the university's research vessel the Fay Slover. The university will benefit, Harvey added, from its contact with very bright students who will be "great ambassadors" for the university in the future.

OEAS faculty who will serve as program mentors also will include David Burdige, Dreux Chappell, Greg Cutter, Fred Dobbs, Jennifer Georgen, Victoria Hill, John Klinck, Margie Mulholland, Hans-Peter Plag and Richard Zimmerman.

Filippino said applicants must be United States citizens who have completed at least the freshman year of college and are majoring in a STEM field, such as oceanography, marine science and policy, environmental science, biology, chemistry or mathematics. Information about applying is at http://sci.odu.edu/oceanography/reu.

Students chosen for the program will receive a $5,000 stipend, as well as room and board and other expense money during the 10 weeks beginning May 24.