The NOAA Experiential Research and Training Opportunities (NERTO)

The NOAA Experiential Research and Training Opportunities (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.
PRE-NERTO Tasks/Steps
Within 90 Days of signing the LoU

Step 1

The Faculty Advisor and 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)                

Four to Six Months BEFORE the Proposed NERTO

Step 2

NOAA Mentor(s) submits SSIO to NOAA Portal. The NOAA mentor must submit a Student Scholarship Internship Opportunity (SSIO) for CSC (Cooperative Science Center) students on the NOAA portal using this website:


Download the SSIO Template (MS Word)

Step 3

SSIO Approval by NOAA Program Office. Once the SSIO is posted and approved by the NOAA Program Office, the Center's management will notify the NERTO Intern/Student and Faculty Advisor they must create a Work Plan.

Download the Work Plan Template (MS Word)

Step 4

NERTO Work Plan Development. The student, in coordination with the Faculty Advisor and NOAA Mentor, submits the 12-week Work Plan, along with a cover letter, resume, copy of the latest transcript to the Center Director, Dr. Reza Khanbilvardi (khanvilbardi@ccny.cuny.edu), and the Center Assistant Director, Dr. Shakila Merchant (smerchant@ccny.cuny.edu), who will share it with NOAA EPP.

Download the Cover Letter Template (MS Word)

Step 5

Offer Letter and Acceptance Letter. Once the Work Plan is approved by NOAA EPP, the NOAA Program Office will issue an Offer Letter. The student must respond with an acceptance letter. Please contact the Center Assistant Director, Dr. Shakila Merchant, (smerchant@ccny.cuny.edu) and Mr. Cesar Ortiz (cortiz@ccny.cuny.edu) regarding the acceptance letter.

Download the Acceptance Letter Template (MS Word)

Step 6

Travel Logistics. 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). 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 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 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 report
    • Keep a daily 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.
  • 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 in any area.
  • Before leaving, thank (both in writing and verbally) all the NOAA scientists and staff with whom you worked

POST-NERTO Tasks/Steps

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

Step 1  

The student completes the NERTO Dashboard on the MIS (NERTO Dashboard)

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 Assistant Director Dr. Shakila Merchant (smerchant@ccny.cuny.edu), Acting Education Expert and Social Science Lead Dr. Valerie Were (vwere@ccny.cuny.edu) 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.

  1. Generate the PDF of the report and save the file as “YourLastNameCESSRSTFinalReport_FinalNERTOReport” 

  2. Assemble high resolution figures (up to four) and pictures of you on your NERTO (up to four) to send with the report 

  3. Draft a professional email and send the PDF, figures and pictures to oed.epp10@noaa.gov, and cc: Dr. Shakila Merchant (smerchant@ccny.cuny.edu) and Dr. Valerie Were (vwere@ccny.cuny.edu).

Please contact the CESSRST Office at City College of New York, noaacrest@gmail.com 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