I recently was given the opportunity to conduct undergraduate research with a group of students from the University of Michigan, Virginia Tech, and University at Albany. We were headed to Greenland to conduct experiments on the atmospheric and geological conditions there.
This all started back in 1926 when professor William Hobb’s took the first atmospheric and geological experiments. He was a professor at University of Michigan, and since then there have been three other trips (including the one I was on) recreating the first one organized by William Hobb.. The most recent one was in 2006.
The 14 students from various universities geared up and all met in Albany NY. From there we did some classroom learning to get to know all the instruments we were going to be using. (If time allotted, you should definitely list out some of the instruments that you learned about!) It was really interesting working with students who had different majors and different skill sets. This allowed for many ways to solve a problem or a creative way in completing a task at hand.
Shortly after our Albany meet up, we loaded up in a C-130 and headed to Greenland. We were lucky to get to go at this time of year as they are in their summer. This means that there is 24 hours of sunlight. We had all the time in the world to go on hikes and conduct research because the sun never set!
We were all given these instruments and we told that this was our experiment, and we needed to figure out what we wanted to measure. A completely normal task that students have to figure out when conducting their own research, but we were undergraduates, and we had never done our own research. It was like letting a kid go loose in a candy shop – there were so many different things we could do!
We finally decided to do four different experiments.
The moral of this story, and the most important part, is that undergraduate research is so hard to come by. It opens doors for students and helps them discover more and more things about not only the weather but the climate, especially in regions that aren’t as explored – like Greenland. Being able to conduct this research at such a young age, made a lot of people on the team interested in going to graduate schoolor looking into research they can do on their own.
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@2019 Weather Forecaster Allison Finch