EXCITE: NASA measurements to study Earth

EXCITE team photo montage


Have you ever wondered what exactly is above us that reduces visibility and air quality or that makes clouds and why some clouds rain more than others? The atmosphere is incredibly complex with rapidly evolving clouds and literally thousands of different species either in the form of gases or particulate matter that collectively lead to the largest uncertainty in our understanding of how humans are altering the planet’s energy balance and climate. The NASA-sponsored EXCITE team is deploying and operating ground-based network instruments atop the Gould-Simpson Building on the UA campus to study these issues as part of a large effort to do so across the U.S. led by investigators at different minority serving institutions. The UA, as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), has a rich history of research and education in the area of earth sciences. Our team is deploying network instruments focused on studying particulate matter (AERONET), trace gases (O3, NO2, CH2O; Pandora), and precipitation (Rain Gauge system).

We seek to build an interdisciplinary and diverse team of motivated students interested in learning about these instruments, aiding in monitoring their operation and assessing data quality, in addition to analyzing data to learn about atmospheric sciences and hydrology over Tucson, Arizona. This team of students will be involved with working with a group of graduate students and faculty to help educate a broader audience, with the help of online storytelling (“Science in Motion”) and outreach events, about earth sciences and how NASA data are helping to advance our understanding of some of the most pressing physical science challenges we face globally.

We anticipate to be able to deploy the full suite of instruments in time to recruit students beginning in Spring 2023.

Issues Involved or Addressed

  • Atmospheric Science
  • Hydrology
  • Air Quality
  • Environment
  • Remote Sensing
  • Public Health
  • Climate Change
  • Science Communication and Outreach

Methods and Tech

  • Monitoring/supervision of field instruments (remote sensors, rain gauge system)
  • Data analysis techniques (e.g., Excel, Python, Matlab, R), interpretation, graphical visualization
  • Data curation and archiving
  • Literature review
  • Technical writing and speaking
  • Outreach (e.g., mentoring, scientific storytelling)

Academic Majors of Interest

  • Environmental Sciences
  • Engineering
  • Optical Sciences
  • Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences
  • Journalism
  • Public Health
  • Honors
  • ASEMS program

Preferred Interests and Preparation


  • Experience with measurements and laboratory work
  • Teamwork experience
  • Ability to analyze data — experience with Excel, Python, Matlab, and/or R
  • Understanding of atmospheric/hydrologic processes
  • Powerpoint presentations
  • Writing and speaking to audiences
  • Outreach


  • Motivated and curious about the atmosphere and Earth sciences
  • Interest in NASA research
  • Independent
  • Organized with strong time management skills
  • Punctual with meetings and any type of deliverables
  • Leadership ability
  • Strong interest in teaching/mentoring others

Team Advisors

Armin Sorooshian, PhD

Avelino Arellano, PhD

Sylvia Sullivan, PhD

Application Process

We welcome applications at any time but are currently only recruiting undergraduate students. For more information, please contact armin@arizona.edu