Several summer interns from the Naval Postgraduate School’s latest cohort presented their research projects during the Monterey Bay Summer Research Symposium at nearby California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB), Aug. 10. The symposium highlighted the STEM – or science, technology, engineering and mathematics – research of 65 interns participating in summer programs at NPS, CSUMB and Hartnell College.
“This is our fifth annual summer research symposium partnership between the Naval Postgraduate School, the Monterey Bay Regional Ocean Sciences Research Experiences for Undergraduates, and the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center at CSUMB,” said CSUMB Provost Dr. Bonnie Irwin.
NPS Provost Dr. Steven Lerman also attended the annual showcase, encouraging the audience of young scientists to hold on to the inquisitive spirit that brought them to the sciences.
“I would like to congratulate all of the students on the great work they did this summer and certainly urge them to continue their interest in the scientific or technological areas that most excite them,” he said. “Pursue your passion around science and technology, and continue in that spirit of inquiry that characterized these internships this summer.”
The internships are not just for the benefit of the students, Lerman added, with NPS reaping its own rewards from the research performed on the campus.
“NPS gets tremendous benefits from the students engaged with our faculty on these projects,” Lerman said. “They become part of a working team, where some of their work will contribute to a larger body of research that we at NPS are involved in.
“In the long run, it engages students in scientific exploration and many of those students will go on to do great things,” he continued. “Some may eventually join the military, while others will simply have learned something about science as it applies to defense-related problems. All of those things benefit NPS, and the nation as a whole, in the long run.”
After all of the oral and video presentations were complete, students participated in a research poster showcase where they were able to share their work in more detail. Dr. Sophoria Westmoreland from the Office of Naval Research, a critical supporter of NPS’ Summer STEM programs, took this opportunity to learn a bit more about the students’ work.
“The number one reason these programs benefit NPS and the Department of Defense is in workforce development,” said Westmoreland. “We want to make sure that our pipeline for future scientists and engineers is full ... and has the best and brightest students from across the country to come in and work for the Navy to help solve our naval research problems.
“If the Navy doesn’t invest in its future then we won’t have a future,” she stressed.
NPS has maintained an internship program for many years, but significantly expanded it around 2013 through the efforts of STEM Internship Coordinator Alison Kerr, who strengthened partnerships with regional institutions and the Office of Naval Research. This year, interns from several different community colleges and universities spent approximately 8-10 weeks on campus, working on the very same research endeavors the university’s faculty and students do.
“I have worked with over 600 high school, community college and university students and it’s very exciting to see them not only during the summer at NPS, but I also keep in touch with them throughout the years,” said Kerr. “It’s amazing to see where their academics and career take them after these internships.”
“This internship is a really great opportunity to make connections and work in your respective field,” said NPS summer intern Amanda Coleman. “There are a lot of professors that I’ve met and their research has really interested me and I’ve gotten the opportunity to see a lot of this research in my field first-hand.”
Coleman, like many interns, has participated in the program for multiple years and will continue her
studies at the graduate level during the upcoming school year.