College of EMS Upward Bound Math and Science team takes top honors

Two students, Mark Santana-Crespo from Harrisburg High School and Malika Williams-Brooks from Harrisburg SciTech High School, mentored by a team of meteorology researchers in Penn State's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences (EMS), took overall first place at the Upward Bound Math and Science (UBMS) Summer Residential Program’s Awards Ceremony held on Tuesday, July 22, at The Nittany Lion Inn on the University Park campus

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Patricia L. Craig, August 11, 2014

The students were mentored by meteorology graduate student Alison Stidworthy and faculty members David Titley, director of the Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk, and Jon Nese, associate head of the undergraduate program in meteorology and host and producer of Weather World, on the research project "A Weather Forecast Verification Study."

Santana-Crespo and Williams-Brooks were given four months of high-temperature forecasts for several U.S. cities (at various lead times) and were challenged to assess whether the forecasts had any skill – essentially, to determine how good the forecasts were.

The forecasts, assembled and quality-controlled by Chad Bahrmann, senior research assistant in meteorology, came from several commercial weather providers and from the National Centers for Environmental Protection’s long-range CFS (Climate Forecast System) model. The forecasts spanned from one day to many weeks into the future, so both short-term and long-term forecasts were analyzed. Santana-Crespo and Williams-Brooks computed various measures of forecast accuracy and made conclusions regarding how far into the future weather forecasts are accurate.

Their efforts on the research project were rewarded with a first-place finish out of 19 teams: five teams from EMS, 11 from the Eberly College of Science and three from the College of Agricultural Sciences.

“It was a great collaboration between two enthusiastic students, a graduate student mentor who was a former high school teacher, and faculty members with lots of data to analyze,” said Nese.  “And to top it off, who doesn't like to talk about the weather!”

Santana-Crespo said, "This award took a lot of hard work and dedication. The fact that we won overall really is exciting. I appreciate all you have done for us."

Each summer, UBMS’s Summer Residential Program brings high school students to Penn State’s University Park campus for a science-intensive experience. The students gain first-hand experience in college life through a six-week stay where they attend classes in math, science and communication; conduct and present research; and participate in educational, cultural and community activities.

EMS participation is through the Summer Experiences in Earth and Mineral Sciences (SEEMS) program, which has been a mainstay of EMS’ Educational Equity programming since 1997.

The purpose of UBMS at Penn State is to assist participating students in recognizing and developing their potential to excel in math or science and to encourage them to pursue postsecondary degrees in these fields. Penn State UBMS serves eligible students from Harrisburg, Reading and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in specific target high schools. All program services are offered at no cost to participants due to a Department of Education TRIO grant. Penn State UBMS currently holds a 92 percent postsecondary education acceptance rate and a 99 percent high school graduation rate for participants in the program.

For more information visit Penn State’s Upward Bound Math and Science Programat online.