Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

2023 Young Summer Scholars

NCEI supports early-career scientists through hands-on experience in science and technology

Bridge with water stains stretches into clear blue water with slightly cloudy sky overhead.
Courtesy of

Summer studies are in session at NCEI! This is the season when young scholars flock to NCEI from around the country for the opportunity to work with our scientists and pursue interests related to their studies. Summer projects range from studying drought monitoring maps, understanding solar flares, bettering scientific communications, and supporting machine learning based on marine air-temperature data. Read below to learn more about our NCEI Summer 2023 scholars!


Cooperative Institute Internships

Internships are arranged through several of our cooperative partner institutions including the Cooperative Institute for Satellite Earth System Studies, the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder, and the Northern Gulf Institute. Students work in a hybrid environment with our cooperative partner institutions to contribute to the improvement of climate science tools and research:

  • Jeff Alexander is working in a hybrid environment with Garrett Graham and Ronald Leeper to support an ongoing effort to integrate machine learning into soil moisture quality control in the U.S. Climate Reference Network Stations. Jeff graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in Chemistry. Following his graduation, he embarked on a life-changing journey by thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, spending more than five months immersed in the wilderness of the eastern U.S. Upon completing this adventure, he decided to veer away from his original plan of attending medical school and instead pursued a career in film and television acting. Simultaneously, Jeff also ventured into the field of data analysis.
  • Mitchell Zotter is working in a hybrid environment with Douglas Rao to develop computational notebooks to analyze NOAA climate data records. Mitchell is a graduate of Penn State University and a forthcoming fall student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for Atmospheric Science.
  • Kelsey Herbst is being mentored by Jen Runkle this summer as she advances climate and health indicators to be used by the CDC. She received her Bachelor of Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where she studied the epidemiology of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. She is pursuing her Master of Public Health in Applied Epidemiology at the Gillings School of Global Public Health. Following graduation, Kelsey intends to embark upon a career in population health data analytics to continue to understand the epidemiological impacts of ever-increasing climate change events across the country. 
  • Xinhuiyu Liu is working with Douglas Rao to evaluate machine learning based on marine air-temperature data. He is a student at the University of Virginia in the field of  Atmospheric Science. 
  • Sushanth Chilla is working with Douglas Rao to study machine learning to generate a gridded land-climate dataset using station observations. Sushanth is a student at North Carolina State University with an interest in Computer Science.
  • Lexi Dooley will be evaluating machine learning based on marine air-temperature data, with the assistance of their mentor, Douglas Rao. Lexi is also transferring from Drexel University to UNC Asheville in the fall. Lexi has an interest in Atmospheric Science.
  • Yashasya Shah is beginning their mentorship under Denis Willett this summer as they process improvement for the Global Historical Climatological Network (GHCN). Yashasya attends North Carolina State University and has an interest in Computer Science. 
  • Elizabeth Cox is studying user engagement this summer and climate conference community development for Invest Appalachia, with the assistance of their mentor, Jenny Dissen. Elizabeth is currently a senior at the University of North Carolina at Asheville studying Atmospheric Science. Elizabeth’s field of study is user engagement.
  • Atharva Bhalke is working alongside his mentor, Liqing Jiang to work quality control tool development and IT support for the Ocean Carbon and Acidification Data System (OCADS). He is an undergraduate student pursuing a Bachelor of Natural Sciences degree in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics at the University of Maryland. He has conducted research in machine learning and artificial intelligence at Drexel University, where he utilized a variety of tools to simulate their behavior using cybernetic stimuli. His ultimate goal is to launch a web-based application. 
  • Tejas Prabhu will work virtually this season to explore the improvement of the near-real time drought monitoring cloud process under the mentorship of Olivier Prat, David Coates, Scott Wilkins, Denis Willett, and Brian Nelson. Tejas attends North Carolina State University, with an area of interest in computer science.
  • Iype Eldho is interested in investigating drought teleconnections; Iype’s mentors include Olivier Prat, David Coates, Scott Wilkins, Denis Willett, and Brian Nelson. Iype is an electrical engineering student at North Carolina State University.
  • Jackson Coley is being mentored by Olivier Prat, David Coates, Ronnie Leeper, and Brian Nelson as they explore SPI products (IMERG-SPI, CMORPH-SPI, NClimGrid-SPI) evaluation and validation. Jackson attends the University of North Carolina at Asheville. Their degree-seeking endeavors include Atmospheric Science and a minor in Computer Science and Mathematics.

National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency that supports science and engineering in the U.S. and its territories. They offer funding to undergraduates to expand their skills and knowledge.

  • Anastacia Werner is working on-site with Carrie Morrill and Allison Lawman to quantify age uncertainty in sedimentary records of abrupt climate transitions. Anastacia attends the University of Colorado for Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, and is also pursuing a minor in Russian.

Research Experiences for Undergraduates

Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) is a summer-long internship bringing undergraduate students into research projects on topics funded by the National Science Foundation. These are the summer interns participating in the on-site program at NCEI:

  • Emma Opper is being mentored this summer by Manoj Nair and Rob Redmon as she builds an AI-ready calibrated and de-noised magnetic anomaly dataset from measurements contributed by citizens using NOAA’s CrowdMag app. Emma is a rising senior at University of California, Santa Barbara. Emma is working toward a B.S. in Mathematics, with a minor in Professional Writing in science communication. After graduating in spring of 2024, she plans to work toward a graduate degree in Applied Mathematics, with CU Boulder being one of her top choices. She hopes to continue studying areas which involve physics and machine learning.
  • Maheen Khan is working with Larisza Krista this summer to understand the low-corona signatures that might appear before solar flares. Maheen attends Pikes Peak State College for Space and Solar Physics. 

William M. Lapenta Student Internship Program

The William M. Lapenta Student Internship Program is a paid summer internship for sophomore and junior undergraduate students and enrolled graduate students. The program supports work in areas that will provide robust research and/or operational experience that will prepare the student for further study in NOAA fields. These are the summer interns participating in the on-site program at NCEI:

  • Richard Farrell will be building out the Next Generation Archive and Access System with the assistance of their mentor, Ryan Berkheimer. Richard is a PhD Candidate in Computer and Data Science at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.
  • Danielle Recco is studying dissolved oxygen data visualization for Hypoxia Watch GIS portal, with the assistance of her mentors, Jennifer Webster and Courtney Bouchard. Her project this summer includes the creation of a 3D ArcGIS volumetric map of dissolved oxygen levels in the Gulf of Mexico. Part of this project includes assessing how different levels of dissolved oxygen impact the Catch Per Unit Effort of brown shrimp in the Gulf, an important economic fishery for locals. Danielle is majoring in Geography and minoring in Biology at Vassar College. Her future career goals involve working at NOAA to apply oceanographic knowledge to monitoring, forecasting, modeling, and mapping. She is also interested in environmental policy and management.

Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Program

The Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Program is a scholarship and internship program that supports undergraduates in gaining practical experience in NOAA-related science, research, technology, policy, management, and education activities. These are the summer interns participating in the on-site program at NCEI:

  • Dylan Major is evaluating an AI-based blended marine air temperature dataset with his mentors, Jessica Matthews, Lei Shi, and Douglas Rao. Dylan is entering his senior year at The University of North Carolina at Asheville where he is studying Atmospheric Science, Computer Science, and Math. He is also a member of the track and cross country teams. He plans to attend graduate school next year and ultimately work at a lab or university. 
  • Gweneth Lau is a senior undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota Duluth, studying Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Energy Engineering. After graduation, she plans to work in sustainable energy engineering and design. Along with her coursework, Gweneth is the acting CEO of her school’s rocketry team, Bulldog Rocketry, and the Vice President of the Sustainable Energy Association at the University. Gweneth is very grateful for all of the opportunities that NOAA has given her.
  • Max White is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Georgia in Athens, GA. He is looking forward to applying for graduate school soon and continuing to meld his interests in atmospheric hazards, socioeconomic vulnerability, and the wellbeing of rural communities.
  • Jay Mrazek is a student at the University of Georgia studying Geology and Linguistics. This summer Jay is working on-site to identify abrupt climate transitions in Speleothem (Cave) Time Series, with the assistance of their mentors Carrie Morrill and Allison Lawman.
  • Roxanne Mina is an oceanography major minoring in Mathematics at California State University Maritime Academy. She is involved in an undergraduate research project looking at biolocomotion of bacteria, where she is creating a physical model for flagellar motion. Her summer project examines U.S. coastal hypoxia variability between 1965–2018. After graduation she plans to go to graduate school for her Masters and PhD in chemical oceanography.