August 12, 2008

Who Are the Student Members of the Ams?

By Stanitski, Diane M Charlevoix, Donna J

AMS MEMBERSHIP SURVEY RESULTS Student membership in the AMS is on the rise. The number of student members increased from 2,162 in 2005 to 2,511 by the end of 2006, and exceeded 3,000 in 2007. Benefits of being a student member include receipt of AMS journals, eligibility for undergraduate scholarship and graduate fellowship awards, contacts made at AMS events and the Annual Meeting, and access to internship and job information.

In an effort to better identify and understand our student population, the 2005 AMS Survey of Membership assessed their current level of involvement in the AMS and the discipline in general. The future of our Society rests on the shoulders of our student population. Therefore, a better understanding of their background, interests, and needs is critical for involving students in the Society and for recruiting and retaining future scientists as active members of the Society. The 2005 survey marks the first time that the membership survey specifically solicited information on student membership. Therefore, the analysis presented below is the first available description of the demographics and involvement of student members in the AMS.

The 2005 Survey of Membership was conducted electronically. The survey was sent to 9,136 AMS members with e-mail addresses. A total of 5,451 members responded, for a response rate of 66%. (Please see the article by Murillo et al. in the May 2008 issue of BAMS for more details on the administration of the survey.) Of those 5,451 members, 970 student members were identified, representing 18% of the total respondent population. A small percentage of these students did not respond to some of the questions; therefore, total numbers of students may not appear to align in each analysis presented below.

For the analysis of the survey responses, "students" are primarily AMS members who hold a student membership. However, if someone with a student membership reported that they were employed full-time and not enrolled as a student at the time the survey was administered, they were considered "regular" members. Also, if respondents with a regular AMS membership reported that they were unemployed and were enrolled as a full-time student, they were converted to "students" for the purpose of this analysis.

WHO ARE THE STUDENT MEMBERS OF THE AMS? Most (91%) AMS student members resided in the U.S., of which 86% were U.S. citizens, 1% held a permanent visa, and 13% had a temporary visa. Most student members were graduate students, although slightly more than one- third were working on their first degree. Of the 886 U.S. student members who responded to the survey question regarding highest degree attained, 30% had received a master's degree, 33% a bachelor's degree, and 4% an associate's degree. Among the remaining 33% were high-school students and those working on their first degree. Students abroad generally were further along in their studies than U.S. students (see Fig. 1).

Most U.S. student members had attained degrees in the physical sciences, with 66% of all students holding atmospheric science degrees (Fig. 2). Of the students who were included in the "All other fields" category, the majority of these students had degrees that were math and science based.

The proportion of female members was much higher than the proportion in the membership as a whole. Close to 39% of U.S. student members were female, while 31% of student members residing abroad were female. Half of all U.S. student members were 20-24 years of age, while approximately 25% of the U.S. student respondents were 25-29 years old, compared to 45% of students abroad (Fig. 3). (Please see the article in this issue by Munoz and Czujko for further information on the demographics of AMS residents residing abroad.)

Nearly half of U.S. student members were employed part-time, and just under 25% of the student respondents worked full-time while attending school. For those students residing abroad, 35% worked full-time, while just over 20% were employed part-time (Fig. 4).

PROFESSIONAL INVOLVEMENT. For U.S. students, 87% declared that the AMS was their primary professional membership. A smaller proportion-although still over 50%-of the student members residing abroad reported AMS as their primary membership. Students residing abroad are also likely to be involved in local or national professional societies.

Approximately 43% of U.S. student members belonged to a student chapter, including 70% of the undergraduates, and 12% of all students belonged to a local chapter of the AMS. Some students belonged to both student and local chapters, while 50% had no affiliation with an AMS chapter.

Approximately 40% of the U.S. student respondents reported that they read printed research literature on a daily or weekly basis. This value is almost identical to that for U.S. regular members. In contrast, 62% of the students residing abroad read research literature published in print on a daily or weekly basis. A substantial proportion (21%) of U.S. students seldom or never read the literature (Fig. 5), compared to only 12% of students residing abroad, likely a reflection of the younger age and earlier educational stage of the respondents residing in the U.S. Both students at home and abroad were more inclined to read literature via a computer than in print, and student members were more likely to read research literature online than regular members. Over 55% of U.S. students and 77% of students residing abroad reported reading online research literature on a daily or weekly basis. Fewer students stated that they seldom or never read literature online compared to printed research literature (Fig. 6).

Fifty-three percent of undergraduates and 58% of graduate students had heard of AMS student conferences, but never participated. Sixty percent of undergraduate respondents and 55% of graduate respondents had never heard of the AMS "Curricula" book about colleges or universities. Only 11% of undergraduates and 14% of graduate students knew the "Curricula" book well or had used it at the time of the survey. The "Curricula" materials are now published online at

Twenty-nine percent of undergraduate students and 31% of graduate students who answered the survey questions about their use of AMS resources to search for jobs indicated that the AMS online jobs database was helpful, although approximately 35% of both student populations had never used it before. Forty-five percent of undergraduates and 53% of graduate students had never used the AMS job listings in print, while approximately 38% of both groups considered it to be helpful or somewhat helpful. Sixty-seven percent of undergraduate students residing in the U.S. had never attended an AMS Annual Meeting, while 83% had not attended a specialized meeting. Fifty percent of graduate students had not attended an Annual Meeting and 62% had not participated in a specialized meeting. Fifty-three percent of undergraduates and 59% of graduate students who attended the Annual Meeting did not use the AMS Career Center while there. Meeting participation results are for the three years prior to dissemination of the survey.

STUDENT INTERNSHIPS. Just under half of all student respondents in the field of atmospheric sciences were completing or had completed internships. Of those students who interned, 88% were in an academic program that did not require an internship. According to the survey responses, many internships were completed at local TV stations (27%) and local NWS Forecast Offices (22%). Twenty percent of students completed an internship involving a research project at a university, 18% worked at a federal research laboratory, and 8% gained experience in the private sector.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR INCREASING STUDENT INVOLVEMENT. Students comprise a growing percentage of the AMS membership and are well established in the Society. However, in order to maintain and increase our student involvement, it is important to consistently involve students and enhance the opportunities for our student members. While student participation in AMS chapters is promising, great potential still exists to recruit additional student members, since 25% of undergraduates and 65% of graduate student respondents stated that they did not belong to a student nor a local chapter of the AMS. Affiliation with a local or student chapter can provide networking, mentoring, and insight into various aspects of the field via seminars and interactions with practicing meteorologists and atmospheric scientists.

AMS publications, online job listings, and annual meetings are all important student resources that should be better advertised to attract students and improve their understanding of ways to get involved and become informed about AMS-related activities and programs. The AMS Web site (www.ametsoc. org) contains the minimum curricular composition recommended by the AMS for an undergraduate degree program in atmospheric science. It also contains the federal civil service (NWS) requirements for a degreed meteorologist, and additional resources for student members. Internships also should be encouraged by faculty and pursued by students. Recruitment of students should be continued at the university level, and available resources presented at every opportunity possible. Increased student numbers will ensure the continued future health of the AMS. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS. Special appreciation goes to Roman Czujko and Raymond Chu of the American Institute of Physics for assistance with data acquisition, analysis, and documentation. Board members of the AMS provided valuable historical information and insight into the writing and review of this article.


Munoz, E., and R. Czujko, 2008: Profile of the AMS membership residing outside the United States of America. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 89, 900-904.

Murillo, S. T., R. E. Pandya, R. Y. Chu, J. A. Winkler, R. Czujko, and E. M. C. Cutrim, 2008: The 2005 Membership Survey: An overview and longitudinal analysis of the demographics of the AMS. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 89, 727-733.

Reynolds, M., K. Strebe, and A. Monzon, 2008: A behind-the- scenes glimpse into the broadcast sector of the AMS. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., in press.

AFFILIATIONS: STANITSKI-Geocation, LLC, Boulder, Colorado; CHARLEVOIX-Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois

CORRESPONDINGAUTHOR: Diane Stanitski, P.O. Box 7396, Boulder, CO 80306

E-mail: [email protected]

DOI: 10.1175/2008BAMS2534.1

(c)2008 American Meteorological Society

Copyright American Meteorological Society Jun 2008

(c) 2008 Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.