Director's Message

Welcome to the 2018 Annual Report of NCAR Education and Outreach and the Advanced Study Program. This report highlights our program’s accomplishments in 2018.


The NCAR Education and Outreach program delivered NCAR’s first ever stand alone Strategic Plan 2018-2024.  To affirm its commitment to education and outreach, NCAR developed this plan with input from the university community, informal education institutions, and NCAR leadership, new NCAR E&O Advisory Board and staff.  The plan will guide our institutions education activities and presents a baseline for the development of new activities.
The popular NCAR Explorer Lecture Series continues to engage the public locally and reaches many more via webcasting and YouTube.  We began making short videos with our Explorer Series lecturers to further engage the public of all ages. NCAR Education and Outreach was onsite at the WE-CAN field campaign to make short documentaries that will be used in classrooms around the country.  We supported local TV station Telemundo Denver record a news story at NCAR featuring a 7-year old boy who wants to be a meteorologist, which ended up winning an Emmy for best personal interest story!

ASP 2018

The Advanced Study Program manages opportunities for educational and professional development for graduate students, postdocs and early career scientists and engineers, and research sabbaticals for faculty. ASP provides early career researchers and engineers access to NCAR’s world-class research, engineering and computing facilities with the goal of promoting the advancement of science and innovation, especially in emerging areas of the geosciences. The two-year ASP Postdoctoral Fellowships aim to further the development of early career scientists in the field of atmospheric and related sciences through their collaboration with NCAR scientists and research programs. Fellows research advances are reported separately in the NCAR Laboratory Annual Reports. Through its other components, the Graduate Visitor Program (GVP) and Colloquia, ASP promotes research activities, fosters graduate education, and develops partnerships between NCAR scientists and their colleagues in universities and other institutions.

The postdoctoral program continues to be the flagship program of the ASP. We awarded 11 new postdoctoral fellowships in Spring 2018. These new fellows have already arrived and are participating in ASP activities and NCAR research and development work. FY18 saw significant expansion of the professional development service for postdocs and graduate students. The ASP-led NCAR Fellows Association hosts regular seminars professional development and career advice, including a one-day postdoc retreat each fall that covers topics such as time management and career planning. In FY18 we also introduced the new Individual Development Plan that all postdocs can use to structure their time at NCAR.

Between the Faculty Fellowship Program and the Graduate Student Visitor Program, the ASP supported over 90 months of long-term visits to NCAR in FY18. Most of the GVP awards include an advisor visit to collaborate with the graduate student and hosting NCAR staff. We welcomed 21 graduate students from 19 universities in 2018. Graduate students received career planning support through ASP led seminars and workshops and in individual counseling meetings with the ASP Director.   In 2018, we also scheduled a one-day leadership workshop for undergraduate and graduate students at NCAR that was extremely well received. Hikes and social meetings round out the summer experience for them.

In FY2018, ASP hosted two Colloquia that served 51 students from 39 institutions:
1.  Synthesis of Observations and Models in Studies of Shallow and Deep Clouds, and
2.  Solar Spectropolarimetry and Diagnostic Techniques
Colloquia provide a great way to collaborate with our university partners in enhancing and complementing academic training and preparing the next generation of talented scientists and engineers.


FY 19 will be a busy year for NCAR E&O and ASP!
E&O will be onside in Argentina at the RELAMPAGO field campaign to assist with the NSF-sponsored International Research Experience for Students (IRES) Advanced Study Institute - Field Studies of Convection in Argentina (ASI-FSCA) program and to create a series of short documentaries about the field campaign.  We will also be on-site in Costa Rica for the OTREC field campaign to help with education and outreach to local citizens and students. We are creating a national community of bilingual science outreach and education that has garnered interests from partnering laboratories, the National Weather Service and informal science education institutions.

We are in the early design stages of a Traveling Exhibit on Climate Research that will be open to the public by mid-summer. The plan is to send the exhibit to several local museum, libraries and universities partners a year and to collect local stories about climate impacts and adaptation as it travels.  

ASP will continue to engage and develop the scientific workforce of the future through its core visitor and fellowship programs. We will continue to provide community building and career development elements of the ASP that will be accessible to all graduate students and postdoctoral fellows at NCAR. Annual retreats and monthly career development seminars, teas, training opportunities in leadership, time management and supervisory skills, and ongoing mentoring services support our graduate students and postdocs to take leadership roles in the community upon leaving ASP.

In 2019 we are excited to announce a large new initiative in ASP called The Early Career Faculty Innovators Program.  The program brings together NCAR scientists and faculty with expertise beyond NCAR’s core programs to co-develop interdisciplinary research projects. While the Innovators Program will be a way to engage researchers from many disciplines, it is specifically targeted toward social sciences and human dimensions researchers, with the inclusion of early-career faculty from minority serving institutions being a key objective of the program.
This program will be a critical component to the strategic, cross-laboratory, interdisciplinary project approach NCAR needs to take to address the complex problems we are facing in the geosciences and as a Nation.

Rebecca Haacker
Director of Education & Outreach and ASP