$1M to Attract Students to Geology and Marine Sciences

UC Davis geology students in Hawaii
GEL 138 students trek through Hawaii’s lava fields during a 2017 class trip.

The Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science, is receiving a $1 million award from the National Science Foundation to target scholarships for students eligible for federal financial aid and enable field experiences for majors in either geology, or coastal and marine sciences.

Bringing Geoscience Field Experiences to Underrepresented Students

Over the course of five years, the project will fund 100 undergraduate and 21 graduate scholarships. Beginning in January 2019, the project will partner with eight community colleges to foster students from their first field experience, through their capstone undergraduate field course and into research, real-world internships or entrance into graduate schools.

“Over the past few years, Earth and Planetary Sciences has been reaching out to underrepresented students and those with financial need to help them see the potential of a career in the geosciences,” said geology senior lecturer David Osleger. “This NSF funding will provide them with field experiences that may be life-changing.”

A research question

In addition to the project’s goal of bringing more underrepresented students into the geosciences, it will also be testing a research question: Do undergraduate field experiences help students better understand and engage with geosciences, or can the unfamiliarity of such experiences be an impediment to low-income and other underrepresented students? This project will look at ways to help students overcome those challenges where they exist.

The partnering community colleges include American River College, Yuba College, San Joaquin Delta College, Solano Community College, Woodland Community College, Napa Valley College, Diablo Valley College and Sacramento City College.

The grant is from NSF’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S-STEM) program.

— Kat Kerlin, UC Davis News and Media Relations

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