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The Climate Adaptation Scientists of Tomorrow (CAST) Program at the Northeast CASC completed its second year of providing underrepresented students with critical science skills and research experience.

Minority groups comprise just 10% of the national environmental workforce but make up about 40% of the U.S. population, according to a 2018 study.  

To address this disparity, beginning in 2021 four CASC-affiliated universities were competitively selected to pilot the “Climate Adaptation Scientists of Tomorrow” (CAST) Program. The CAST Program recruits underrepresented undergraduates to participate in summer research, aiming to encourage their career pursuits in climate adaptation and to diversify the workforce. One of the four funded universities was UMass Amherst, the host institution for the Northeast CASC. Led by Northeast CASC scientists Bethany Bradley and Toni Lyn Morelli, summer 2023 marked the end to their program’s second year. 

Morelli said of their program: “Our goal was to develop a research opportunity that engages students intellectually while also providing them with a sense of social belonging and a clear understanding of how they can progress professionally within the field of climate adaptation science. It is our hope that this kind of multilayered experience will have a decisive impact on them as they choose their career paths.” 

The UMass cohort researched topics related to biodiversity, invasive species, and climate refugia while also presenting findings at major conferences, analyzing data in the software R, coauthoring papers for publication, and gaining professional confidence. Intellectual engagement, belonging, and professional growth are key to the program’s success, and workforce diversity in environmental fields is key to advancing climate adaptation in communities across the United States.  

Morelli further noted of the UMass CAST student participants, “I’m thrilled that we have been able to attract them to the field of climate adaptation science and can’t wait to see what the future holds for them. I know that they’re going to do great things.” 

Read more about the UMass CAST students’ experiences here

Applications are now open for the summer 2024/2025 cohort! The deadline to apply is December 31, 2023. Learn more here

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