Long before I was appointed the new president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), and years before I served on UCAR´s Board of Trustees, I saw firsthand the power ful impact the Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Research and Science (SOARS) program can have on a young scientist´s life.

As a professor at the University of Maryland, one of my doctoral students, Ernesto Muñoz, came to work with me after having been a SOARS protégé. At that point in time the SOARS program was only a few years old but already had an excellent reputation for nurturing students from diverse and under represented backgrounds into the atmospheric and related sciences.

Ernesto went on to be one of the 38 SOARS protégés who have earned a Ph.D. in the program´s 20 years of existence. In this time, SOARS protégés have also earned 117 master ´s degrees. Thirty-seven protégés are currently on track to complete graduate degrees in the near future.

While these numbers clearly demonstrate the SOARS program´s resounding success, much is still left to do. Only 8 percent of doctoral degrees awarded in atmospheric, oceanic, and earth sciences in 2014 were awarded to under represented minorities, according to the National Science Foundation.This is why, as SOARS celebrates its 20th anniversary, the program is more important than ever.

Throughout my career as a scientist studying the Earth system, I have seen how essential it is to study this coupled system from the perspective of the atmosphere, ocean, and land surface. Similarly, over the years I have come to appreciate the importance of diverse viewpoints, backgrounds, and inputs to moving the state of our science forward.

As the president of UCAR, I see increasing the diversity of our scientific community as a critical part of our mission. I look forward to joining with the funders, partnering laboratories, and mentors — whose continuing support has been fundamental to the SOARS program´s success — to ensure that SOARS remains a vital and effective community resource for many more years to come.


Earth, Wind, Sea and Sky 2016