A taste of oceanography.
College breaks between fall and spring terms can last all of January, enough time for travel, courses, short internships, or work. For the past four years, a few undergraduate students have combined these at WHOI in the Ocean Research Experience (ORE) program, a pilot program that plunges them into ocean science for three to four weeks.
"In the four years of the program, we have brought 22 science students here from liberal arts colleges, none of whom had much prior exposure to ocean science," said Jim Yoder, WHOI vice president for academic programs and dean.
The program was supported by a grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, which were interested in providing science majors at liberal arts colleges a way to experience ocean science firsthand at a top-flight oceanographic research institution. This year's five students came from Oberlin, Skidmore, and Williams Colleges and DePauw University.
"Funding from the Davis Foundations was meant to last three years," said Yoder, "and we managed to extend it to four." He is now actively seeking private donors to help continue the ORE program.
The visiting undergraduates aren't the only ones to benefit from the midwinter program. They are taught short courses in basic oceanography by senior graduate students in the MIT/WHOI Joint Program--this year by Whitney Bernstein, Kim Popendorf, and Maya Yamato, who relished the opportunity to get teaching experience. The undergraduates also partner with WHOI scientists and work on short research projects in their labs.
"I've been pleasantly surprised at the number of WHOI scientists willing to host an undergraduate for a few weeks," Yoder said.
The ORE program also helps recruit students into other WHOI educational programs. Three of this year's participants have applied for a Summer Student Fellowship at WHOI, and one is applying to the Joint Program.