This award will support an annual summer school to educate undergraduate and graduate students on the theory and practice of incoherent scatter radars (ISR). The National Science Foundation supports six ISR facilities worldwide. A community of highly trained scientists operates and uses the data from these radars; however, there is no clear path for graduate students to become a part of this community. While a handful of schools provide training in ISR studies, most interested students need to cobble together an educational path for themselves or pursue the program through a postdoctoral position. Starting in 2008, incoherent scatter radar schools have been held to provide an intense hands-on program that involves a radar experiment and lectures from experts in the field. Over the past five years, the program has proven highly successful and is always fully subscribed with both US and international students. Some schools have been held outside the country, and international collaborations on lectures and experiments have been developed. Many students trained in these schools have continued in the field and become a part of the ISR community. The collaborators on this award represent a core team of lecturers who have developed a successful agenda of courses aimed at imparting the core principles of ISR theory and experimentation during the course of one week. Five locations have been selected for future schools, based on proximity to radar communities: Haystack Observatory (Westford, Massachusetts), Arecibo Observatory (Puerto Rico), CONICET (Buenos Aires, Argentina), Geophysical Institute (Fairbanks, Alaska), and SRI International (Menlo Park, California). At each of these locations, students will have hands-on interactions with ISR technology, and will become familiar with a radar facility. The core goal of the ISR summer school is to encourage new participants into the field. Students who attended the summer school in the past have, in fact, continued on to propose their own ISR experiments, and have become active in the field. The awardees will systematically track the educational and professional trajectories of students who attend the summer school and send out yearly surveys to school alumni to learn their current relationship to ISR research and activity in the community. They will also encourage select alumni to return to the school to act as mentors and student liaisons. Another important aspect of the summer schools is the mentoring relationships that are developed between established scientists in the field and interested students. Well after the program has ended, these relationships become a resource as students further their studies and enter the workforce. Students also form relationships with their peers, who provide support as they return to their individual institutions. In addition to the network established in the United States, the summer school has a strong history of international collaboration. The school has also been conducted jointly with the EISCAT summer school, where many European students and professors were in attendance. The two schools plan to merge again every three years.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences (AGS)
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Robert Moore
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Sri International
Menlo Park
United States
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