SOARS Students at ISSE

SOARS (Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Research and Science) offers summer research internships to undergraduates exploring a career in an atmospheric science or related field such as biology, chemistry, computer science, earth science, engineering, environmental science, mathematics, meteorology, oceanography, physics, or social science. It includes a 10-week summer program at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), and provides educational and research opportunities, mentoring, career counseling and guidance, and the possibility of financial support for a graduate-level program.

Each summer ISSE receives several students to work with ISSE scientists. This year 2 SOARS students worked in ISSE.

Braxton EdwardsBraxton Edwards attends the University of Oklahoma, where he is a senior meteorology major. He is a fourth year protégé this summer. In his previous summers he worked in the Mesoscale Microscale Meteorology (MMM) division and at the Institute for the Study of Society and Environment (ISSE) at NCAR. His research interests involve flash flood forecasting and risk management. The work he was doing last summer with his mentors Olga Wilhelmi and Rebecca Morss involved a risk assessment of the front range region of Colorado. He presented the poster "A flood-risk assessment of the Colorado Front Range region using GIS" during the GIS in Weather, Climate and Impacts Workshop 2005 at NCAR. Upon completion of his education he plans to work either in the government sector; specializing in quantitative precipitation forecasting, or go into the private sector with a specialty in flood risk assessment and energy forecasting. In his free time Braxton enjoys photography and watching movies.

Contact Braxton at edwardsb at

Bret HarperBret Harper is a graduate student in the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California Berkeley, a program he found out about through his SOARS science research mentor. Bret came to SOARS following his junior year in the environmental engineering program at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Initially three engineering disciplines—aerospace, environmental, and electrical—attracted his interest, but he ultimately chose environmental engineering because it was a smaller department and because the projects had, in his view, a larger purpose. It wasn't just about making money. They seemed to have a focus on helping the world we live in, and I liked that. Bret Harper spent his 2005 SOARS summer analyzing wind data to understand better how climate can affect wind energy production. Working with Bob Harris at NCAR's Institute for the Study of Society and the Environment (ISSE), Bret explored the correlation between the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and winds in the Northern Plains.

Bret presented his research on "The Use and Value of Climate Information for Wind Power Planning" to the 2005 SOARS colloquium. His final paper ENSO's Effect on the Wind Energy Production Of South Dakota is available as a PDF document.

Contact Bret at harperb at

"Because the pathway to sustainability cannot be charted in advance, it will have to be navigated through trial and error and conscious experimentation. The urgent need is to design strategies and institutions that can better integrate incomplete knowledge with experimental action into programs of adaptive management and social learning."
NRC, Our Common Journey (1999)