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Article | Environmental Science

Virtual workshop provides environmental science students with hands-on data experience

The workshop helps underrepresented students at the University of Puerto Rico experiment with atmospheric data analysis.

As part of the newly-funded projects through the DOE’s Reaching a New Energy Sciences Workforce (RENEW) Initiative, Environmental Science Division scientists put together a one-day virtual workshop for students and faculty of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), including three professors, six undergraduates and two graduate students. The workshop was a part of a six-week summer school put on by Argonne and Brookhaven national laboratories and UPR.

Argonne principal atmospheric and climate scientists Yan Feng and Adam Theisen and atmospheric science software specialists Joseph O’Brien and Zachary Sherman participated.

The goal of the workshop was to help the underrepresented students at UPR to get hands-on experiences with the atmospheric science datasets from the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) user facility, analysis tools, and develop their master or undergraduate student projects in collaboration with scientists at Argonne.

Argonne’s involvement in the workshop focused on data science and data analytics. After downloading data from ARM’s Data Discovery portal, UPR Environmental Science students and faculty members were provided hands-on computer programming tutorials utilizing ARM’s open-compute resources (JupyterHub). The students learned basic Python programming skills, walking through each code example so they understood each line and then completing the programming exercises online.

It was great to see the students interacting and asking questions as we were exploring the data,” said Theisen. Overall, I’m just excited that we were able to get them the tools they needed to start working with ARM data and doing their own data exploration and research!”

Students explored the ARM data as part of a case study on a significant trans-Atlantic African dust storm in July 2022 during the ARM TRacking Aerosol Convection interactions ExpeRiment (TRACER) field campaign using the Atmospheric data Community Toolkit (ACT).

It was an interesting exercise for the students. They could connect what they learned about Python programming and get the first-hand experience to apply the skills to the atmospheric data processing, visualization, and analysis,” said Feng. I think it was successful because we had two students who showed interest in this line of research.”

Two of the students, one undergraduate and one graduate, will have the opportunity to spend the next summer at Argonne funded through the RENEW project. They will dive deeper into the TRACER dataset during the dust event as well as learn about the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility, the Advanced Photon Source, and Argonne Testbed for Multiscale Observational Science.