GP-EXTRA: A geoscience pathway field experience in near-surface geophysics to promote recruitment and retention of transitional students in quantitative geosciences

  • Keating, Kristina (PI)
  • Gates, Alexander (CoPI)
  • Robinson, Judith (CoPI)
  • Keating, Kristina (CoPI)
  • Mount, Gregory (CoPI)
  • Nyquist, Jonathan (CoPI)
  • Brantley, Susan Louise (CoPI)

Project: Research project

Project Details

Description

Part I

Geoscience fields have the worst record of any STEM field in terms of diversity and generating interest among under-represented minority (URM) students. Statistically, geoscience fields are the least ethnically diverse of all the sciences with only about 9% of BS/BA and 2% of PhD?s going to URM candidates nationally. The number of students receiving geoscience degrees will not meet future workforce demands and URM students represent an untapped resource to fill this demand. Increasing the retention of students and increasing the number of URM students enrolling in the geosciences can address these problems. The goal of this GP-EXTRA project is to recruit and retain students in the geosciences through a multi-institutional near-surface (NS) geophysics applied field experience.

The field experience will focus on addressing ongoing scientific questions in critical zone science. It will expose students to state-of-the-art geophysical equipment, an active field research laboratory, and experts in near-surface geophysics and critical zone science, and potential geoscience career paths. This positive field experience and post-activity mentoring will provide GEOPATH students with a sense of community within the geosciences and increase the likelihood that they will continue to pursue careers in the geosciences.

Part II

As outlined in the GP-EXTRA program solicitation, the number of students receiving geoscience degrees will not meet the future workforce demand. This problem can be addressed by both increasing the retention of students and increasing the number of students enrolling in the geosciences. In particular, minority students are severely underrepresented in the geoscience fields and represent an untapped resource to fill this demand. To address this problem, we propose to implement a multi-institutional near-surface (NS) geophysics applied field experience, focused on addressing ongoing scientific questions in critical zone science. The experience will expose students to state-of-the-art geophysical equipment, an active field research laboratory, experts in near-surface geophysics and critical zone science, and potential geoscience career paths.

The GEOPATH (GP) students in the NS geophysics field experience will be drawn from the two primary institutions involved in this project: Rutgers University, Newark (RN), a Hispanic- Serving Institution, and Temple University (TU). These institutions are connected to 2- and 4-year colleges via the Garden State-Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (GS-LSAMP; PI Gates), the Northern New Jersey Bridge to the Baccalaureate (NNJB2B) program, and Temple Alliance for Minority Participation (AMP). GP students will also be drawn from secondary participating 4-year institutions in the northeast (Penn State University, Dickinson College, Kutztown University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and Bucknell University).

Recruitment of GP students from these institutions will focus on underrepresented minorities (URMs) and students from 2-year institutions. The participants will be lower-level undergraduate students (freshman/sophomores) who will have a unique opportunity to participate in a NS geophysics field experience, usually only taught to upper-level undergraduate students. These students are at a critical juncture in their academic career when exposure to opportunities and career options can have an impact on decisions about which major to choose. Focusing our recruitment on first and second year students will also ensure students enter the field experience with an equivalent exposure to the subject matter regardless of academic background.

The field experience will be held at the Shale Hills Critical Zone Observatory (SH-CZO). This field site is ideal as it will expose students to ongoing research in critical zone science. The syllabus and NS geophysics problem sets for the field experience will be developed to address pressing research questions at the SH-CZO. At field stations, GP students will work alongside a graduate student mentor in smaller cohorts (6 students); larger group workshops and presentations are integrated in the schedule to give students the resources to work effectively within a group, learn how to design a research experiment, and analyze datasets. The 2-week field experience will conclude with smaller cohort presentations and a workshop on careers available within the geosciences. Students will enter the field experience as individual students and leave as a team of geoscience students with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to make a more informed decision about their future goals and interests.

The project aims to retain most of these students in the geosciences through a positive field experience and post-activity mentoring. GEOPATH (GP) students will be linked with volunteers from within the RN and TU Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) student chapters, providing the GP students with a sense of community within the geosciences and increase the likelihood that this cohort will continue to pursue careers in the geosciences.

StatusActive
Effective start/end date7/1/176/30/22

Funding

  • National Science Foundation: $380,755.00

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