Press Release

NSF awards Arecibo Observatory and University of Puerto Rico $600,000 to train Hispanic students in scientific research

By SpaceRef Editor
June 11, 2003
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ARECIBO, P.R. — The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded
nearly $600,000 to Arecibo Observatory and the University of Puerto
Rico at Arecibo to establish a three-year program to provide Hispanic
students on the island with experience in conducting scientific
research.

The program is aimed at helping address the national need to increase
the number of Hispanics making careers in the geosciences, including
earth, atmospheric and ocean sciences, says Robert Brown, director of
the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center (NAIC), which manages
the observatory, the world’s largest and most sensitive single-dish
radio telescope.

The new program, he says, will enable participating high school
students and their teachers, and undergraduate students in northwest
Puerto Rico, to receive first-hand experience in research in the
geosciences.

NAIC, a national research center, is operated by Cornell University,
Ithaca, N.Y., under a cooperative agreement with the NSF.

The research program will be organized by the Arecibo Geoscience
Diversity Program, a newly formed initiative of the observatory and
the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo (UPRA). “Participants will
gain first-hand experience in conducting scientific research by using
the Arecibo radio telescope and laboratory facilities at UPRA,” says
José Alonso, educational officer at the observatory.

The program will target students and their teachers from 15 high
schools in the Arecibo School District and undergraduate science
majors at UPRA. Five schools will participate each year, with each
school providing four students and a teacher. UPRA will send eight
students each year.

“Through the interaction of high school students, teachers and UPRA
undergraduates, a bridging path will be established that will help
increase the number of students reaching the college level and
ultimately graduating,” Alonso says.The program will be split into a
10-day summer institute at the observatory, to introduce content and
develop research skills; a 16-day “geoscience academy” during the
school year for field measurements and data analysis; and a
“geoscience congress” at which participants will present their
research projects.

Participants will be divided into two groups: One will study altitude
and temperature variations in the upper atmosphere using the
observatory’s 305-meter radio telescope; the other will study the
karst topography of the Ca=F1o Tiburones tropical wetland and will use
UPRA facilities to design and execute an environmental monitoring
program.

At the end of three years, says Alonso, the program will have
provided hands-on research experience in the geosciences to 60 high
school students, 15 teachers and 24 undergraduates.

The observatory already hosts a 10-week summer student program for at
least six students and a teacher from Puerto Rico. The students work
with staff scientists on projects related to ongoing research or
instrumentation development. The students are exposed to research in
atmospheric science, radio astronomy and planetary radio astronomy.

Related World Wide Web sites: The following site provides
additional information on this news release.

Arecibo Observatory: http://www.naic.edu/

SpaceRef staff editor.