The NOAA Experiential Research and Training Opportunities (NERTO)

The NOAA Experiential Research and Training Opportunities (NERTO)

ALL students must contact CESSRST team (their advisor, Campus PI and CESSRST Management - CESSRST@CCNY.CUNY.EDU) regarding the questions pertaining to their NERTO. 

NERTO (NOAA Experiential Research & Training Opportunities) helps the Center's Masters and PhD students learn about NOAA's mission and workforce opportunities by interning for at least 12 consecutive weeks in a NOAA lab or office.

The goal is to augment students' academic research with NOAA mission science and place-based experiential hands-on opportunities.

Important Elements

  • The NERTO should be conducted within a NOAA federal facility for 12 continuous weeks. It can be done in multiple locations as well as aboard a NOAA vessel/ship or other field campaign.
  • A NOAA Mentor must guide the research. The mentor must be a NOAA Federal Employee. A NOAA contractor (NOAA Affiliate) may be a co-mentor.
  • The process begins as soon as the student is admitted as a NOAA-CESSRST Fellow by signing the Letter of Understanding (LoU).
  • A NERTO project does not necessarily have to be the same as the student's research project. It could augment their on-campus research training by acquiring research and technical skills that could help advance their MS or PhD research project.

Phase I - PRE-NERTO:

Step 1:

Must be completed within 90 Days of the student signing the Letter of Understanding (LoU)

The Center Distinguish Research Scientist (DRS), Student Faculty Advisor and the student must identify a NOAA Mentor to host the student during their NERTO.

To facilitate this process:

  • Provide the potential NOAA Mentor with a one-page Graduate Research Synopsis. (It could be different than the NERTO Research Synopsis, which is required before the NERTO training begins.)
  • Determine a proposed start and end date of the NERTO internship. Allow eight weeks for the NOAA badging, access and vetting process (including Federal Security Clearance) before finalizing the start and end date.
  • Decide on the location(s) for the NERTO. The NERTO must be for 12 continuous weeks. It can involve more than one NOAA facility.
  • Determine/confirm the official NOAA Mentor. The mentor must be a NOAA-Federal employee. A NOAA contractor (Affiliate) can be a co-mentor.
  • Ensure the NOAA Mentor (or Mentors) signs the NOAA Mentoring Memorandum of Understanding.

View a sample MOU

Download the MOU Template (MS Word)

Steps 2 through 6 must be completed within four to six months BEFORE the NERTO Internship takes place

Step 2

Step 3

  • The SSIO is reviewed and approved by the NOAA Program Office, who then notifies the Center Leadership.
  • The Center Leadership shares the SSIO with the Student and the Advisors.
  • The NERTO Intern/Student and Faculty Advisor in coordination with the NERTO Mentor and the Center DRS, creates a 12-week NERTO Work Plan. Download the Work Plan Template (MS Word)

Step 4

  • The student then submits the 12-week work plan, along with a cover letter, resume, copy of their latest transcript to the Center Director, Dr. Reza Khanbilvardi (khanvilbardi@ccny.cuny.edu), and the Center Associate Director, Dr. Shakila Merchant (smerchant@ccny.cuny.edu), for the Center review, and approval.
  • The Center Director then shares the NERTO package with NOAA EPP. Download the Cover Letter Template (MS Word)

Step 5

  • The Work Plan is administratively reviewed by the NOAA EPP Program Office and shares it with the NERTO mentor.
  • The NERTO mentor, issues a NERTO Offer Letter and sends it to the NOAA EPP Office.
  • NOAA EPP Office then shares the NERTO award letter with the Center leadership to be shared with the Students and his/her advisor.
  • The student writes an acceptance letter in response to the NERTO award and shares it with the Center Management team.
  • The Center Director then shares the NERTO acceptance letter package with the NOAA Program office.
  • The NERTO administrative process is completed at this stage, and the student can make travel arrangements to initiate the NERTO training.

***Virtual NERTO Acceptance Letter Template(MS Word) - For no travel during COVID-19***

Download the Acceptance Letter Template (MS Word)

Step 6

  • The student prepares the travel logistics in coordination with the NOAA mentor and Center Student Affairs Manager Cesar Ortiz (cortiz@ccny.cuny.edu or 212-650-8890) and Budget manager – gfekete@ccny.cuny.edu for travel advances and other logistics.
  • This includes obtaining fingerprints from the local police precinct indicated on the NOAA hosting lab/office application form/card.


Once you arrive at your NERTO site, there are several things to keep in mind:

  • Remember that NERTO stands for NOAA Experiential Research & Training Opportunities. Your NOAA mentor understands this but others in the host office may be unaware.
  • Be able to explain that the purpose of your NERTO is to gain a better understanding of NOAA mission-aligned science, and create professional networking, by spending 12 weeks at a NOAA facility and working along NOAA scientists.
  • Introduce yourself with the proper affiliation e.g. My name is "John Doe", I am a NOAA EPP/MSI Earth System Sciences and Remote Sensing Scholar pursuing a Master's degree in Earth and Environmental Engineering at The City College of New York
  • Be able to explain and describe your research goals and objectives. Don't forget to include the social relevance of your work
  • Be able to explain the approved work plan for your NERTO
  • Remember that you are the Center's ambassador. Take any goodies (pens, bags etc.) from the Center to share
  • Be able to summarize all our activities at CESSRST. They might ask you about other research areas of CESSRST, and you should be able respond
  • Be very professional, both verbally and in writing, when interacting with NOAA scientists and staff
    • In preparation for writing your end of NERTO report:
      • Keep a daily /weekly log of your activities and work. This will help you write your report at the end.
      • Take good quality pictures that show you in action with your NOAA mentor(s). You need at least 4 for your report.
    • During the COVID19, it is important to tag up with your advisors and NERTO mentors and CESSRST Education Expert weekly or bi-weekly as needed.
    • Be in constant communication (via e-mail and/or calls) with the Center Mentor, and Center management (Shakila and/or Reza) during the 12 weeks
    • Be in regular contact with Shakila and/or Reza to give feedback on your experience and if you have difficulties with any things during the NERTO.
    • Before leaving, thank (both in writing and verbally) all the NOAA scientists and staff with whom you worked


Within two-Weeks AFTER the completion of the 12-weeks NERTO

Step 1

Step 2

  • The student prepares his/her NERTO report, which is reviewed and approved by their faculty advisor and NOAA Mentor. Download the Report Template (MS Word)

Step 3

  • Student sends a WORD version of the report to the Center's management. Specifically, the student must send the report to: Center Distinguished Research Scientist, Jorge Corredor (jcorredor@ccny.cuny.edu);Center Social Science Lead Dr. Valerie Were (vwere@ccny.cuny.edu)and Center Education Expert Dr. Kathy Kailikole (kkailikole@waiwaied.com) for final approval.

Step 4

  • Once approved by the Center’s management, the student sends the report to the NOAA’s Office of Education and uploads the report to their NERTO Dashboard in the MIS.
  • Generate the PDF of the report and save the file as “YourLastNameCESSRSTFinalReport_FinalNERTOReport
  • Assemble high resolution figures (up to four) and pictures of you on your NERTO (up to four) to send with the report
  • Draft a professional email and send the PDF, figures and pictures to oed.epp10@noaa.gov, and cc: Dr. Reza Khanbilvardi (khanbilvardi@ccny.cuny.edu); Dr. Shakila Merchant (smerchant@ccny.cuny.edu);Dr. Jorge Corredor, (jcorredor@ccny.cuny.edu);Dr. Kathy Kailikole (kkailikole@waiwaied.com); and Dr. Valerie Were (vwere@ccny.cuny.edu).

Please contact the CESSRST Office at City College of New York, noaacessrst@ccny.cuny.edu or (212) 650-8099, if you have questions or concerns about the NERTO opportunities and application process.

NERTO Resources


NOAA EPP NERTO at a Glance

NERTO Information and Guide

NERTO Outputs and Outcomes Guide