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South Central Climate Science Center Undergraduate Summer Internship for Underrepresented Minorities 2015

This year’s South Central Climate Science Center (SC CSC) undergraduate Summer Internship for underrepresented minorities wrapped up in Louisiana. Students from Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, and Nebraska began their trip in Monroe, traveled down the Mississippi River to the coast while learning about the climate, ecology, geomorphology, and the history of the state along the way. The students started their week at the archaeological site of Poverty Point, a prehistoric settlement with monumental architecture whose creation and eventual abandonment over 3000 years ago may have been closely linked to climate change. The interns then traveled south to the Old River Control Structure, learning about the past, present, and current issues related to maintaining the Mississippi River’s present-day path and flooding, which the river was quite high this year. After spending the night in Baton Rouge, the group then traveled south to the coast, including a visit to the mangroves around Port Fouchon and Grand Isle State Park, and eventually reached the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON), while tropical storm Bob was offshore. At LUMCON, the students received the opportunity to tour the R/V Pelican, one of the long-range research vessels run by the consortium, and the next morning explored nearby marshes via kayak to see the effects of wetlands loss firsthand. That same afternoon the students traveled north to Mandeville, where they saw an innovative project to provide reclaimed freshwater to wetlands near the city. After returning to Baton Rouge, the interns toured LSU campus for a day, meeting various professionals and professors studying climate and environmental issues across the state and region, as well as visiting several labs in both the Department of Geography and Anthropology and the School of Coast and the Environment. Finally, the students visited New Orleans and its surrounding suburbs for a hurricane Katrina tour with Dr. Barry Keim, the Louisiana State climatologist. Before leaving on Saturday, the interns presented the weather and climate data they had been gathering since the internship began, noting several important differences between the conditions in Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. Overall, the internship week in Louisiana was quite a success, primarily thanks to the efforts of Drs. Kristine DeLong and Victor Rivera-Monroy. Thanks also are extended to Tess Danielson and Jacob Warner; graduate students who helped run the internship week.

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