Each year, the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico receives atmospheric dust transported all the way from Africa. These mineral-enriched tiny dust particles can have important implications. They impact everything from clouds and ecosystems to the ocean biota and the regional climate and air quality in the Great Caribbean Basin. Located on the island is the University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras (UPRRP), which serves as an excellent natural laboratory to study the atmospheric dust and its interactions with human and Earth systems.
Leveraging their expertise in the environmental sciences, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, DOE’s Brookhaven National Laboratory and UPRRP are partnering to build capacity in the university’s Environmental Sciences Program. The three institutions will also engage minority students that are largely underrepresented in the atmospheric and Earth system sciences workforce. More than 95% of UPRRP’s student body is Hispanic. The four-year project is one of the four awards selected by the Biological and Environmental Research program in DOE’s Office of Science as part of DOE’s first Reaching a New Energy Sciences Workforce (RENEW) Initiative, which officially got underway in January 2023.
“We are excited to help prepare the undergraduate and graduate students at University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras for careers where they can contribute to and address the science challenges of DOE sciences.” — Yan Feng, Argonne principal atmospheric and climate scientist
The RENEW initiative aims to support historically underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and diversify American leadership in energy and climate. It supports internships, training programs and mentor opportunities at historically black colleges and universities and other minority-serving institutions.
“The two national laboratories bring significant expertise to this collaboration. Argonne is bringing to the table our work on the aerosol and Earth system modeling. Brookhaven is bringing their strong experience in atmospheric aerosol and cloud measurements. We are excited to help prepare the undergraduate and graduate students at UPRRP, a minority-serving institution that is predominantly Hispanic, for careers where they can contribute to and address the science challenges of DOE programs,” said Yan Feng, a principal atmospheric and climate scientist from Argonne’s Environmental Science division.
The program’s primary goal is to attract more students to the Environmental Sciences Program at UPRRP and promote aerosol and atmospheric science research at the university. Together, the partners will create a pipeline to bring underrepresented minority students in higher education into the new energy workforce. Through hands-on experiences, they hope to open new career avenues for talented young scientists, engineers and technicians.
Researchers from Argonne and Brookhaven will visit the university once a year to teach weeklong workshops and help with setting up the observational site. They will also assist faculty in designing two new courses. One course will cover aerosol modeling and data science, while the other will focus on atmospheric aerosol instruments. The researchers will also be guest lecturers in these two new courses with the hopes of getting students involved in research and to assist in developing their masters’ theses and Ph.D. projects.
Students will be encouraged to visit both Argonne and Brookhaven for internships and fellowships, as well as for the opportunity to use DOE Office of Science user facilities at both laboratories.
“We plan to introduce the students and faculty to the DOE high performance computing capabilities at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility, and to the Advanced Photon Source for imaging particles. We will also train students to operate the instruments and use the long-term atmospheric datasets available at the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement user facility,” explained Feng. “The UPRRP faculty and students are excited for the opportunity to have hands on experience at these world-class facilities.”
Applications for the second round (in FY2023) of funding for DOE RENEW is open now until April and May 2023. Funding for the RENEW Initiative comes from the DOE Office of Science.
The Atmospheric Radiation Measurement user facility is a DOE Office of Science scientific user facility operated by nine DOE national laboratories, including Argonne National Laboratory.
The Argonne Leadership Computing Facility provides supercomputing capabilities to the scientific and engineering community to advance fundamental discovery and understanding in a broad range of disciplines. Supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Science, Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) program, the ALCF is one of two DOE Leadership Computing Facilities in the nation dedicated to open science.
About the Advanced Photon Source
The U. S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source (APS) at Argonne National Laboratory is one of the world’s most productive X-ray light source facilities. The APS provides high-brightness X-ray beams to a diverse community of researchers in materials science, chemistry, condensed matter physics, the life and environmental sciences, and applied research. These X-rays are ideally suited for explorations of materials and biological structures; elemental distribution; chemical, magnetic, electronic states; and a wide range of technologically important engineering systems from batteries to fuel injector sprays, all of which are the foundations of our nation’s economic, technological, and physical well-being. Each year, more than 5,000 researchers use the APS to produce over 2,000 publications detailing impactful discoveries, and solve more vital biological protein structures than users of any other X-ray light source research facility. APS scientists and engineers innovate technology that is at the heart of advancing accelerator and light-source operations. This includes the insertion devices that produce extreme-brightness X-rays prized by researchers, lenses that focus the X-rays down to a few nanometers, instrumentation that maximizes the way the X-rays interact with samples being studied, and software that gathers and manages the massive quantity of data resulting from discovery research at the APS.
This research used resources of the Advanced Photon Source, a U.S. DOE Office of Science User Facility operated for the DOE Office of Science by Argonne National Laboratory under Contract No. DE-AC02-06CH11357.
Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://energy.gov/science.