Education and Outreach
Besides research and teaching at my home institution, I enjoy and am active in education and outreach. I feel strongly about helping early-career faculty find their path through the tenure process, and encouraging underrepresented students to consider science as a career path. Recent research shows that the geosciences remain one of the least diverse disciplines in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Exclusion from social networks has been suggested as one reason why some women and underrepresented minorities leave science, and I work to make my group a positive force toward inclusion. Below, I outline some of the larger outreach/education programs that I have developed or participated in.
Description: Funded through a NSF Research Coordination Network and in conjunction with my colleagues Pam Sullivan, Nicole Gasparini, Nikki West and Li Li, this coordination network looks to involve new scientists interested broadly in earth system science by introducing them to the critical zone networks and current questions, focusing on underrepresented groups. This initiative involves CUAHSI cyberseminars (coming in 2020!) and our first large kickoff meeting June 22-25 at the Colorado School of Mines. If you’re interested in attending, please fill out an application!
Description: Through the Mines President’s Office, I developed a career-development program for pre-tenure faculty at Mines. This program includes a series of workshops, covering topics including expectations for promotion and tenure, getting a quick start in teaching effectively, setting up a research group and developing its brand, grant-writing tips, university finances for faculty, service work, time management, networking, finding mentors, managing personalities, and developing one’s dossier.
Description: With support from the Mines Integrated Groundwater Modeling Center (IGWMC) and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, we developed an outreach program in collaboration with Alameda International Junior/Senior High School that brings high school students onto the Mines campus for a day to explore the earth sciences, including participating in a number of labs, from “polluting” groundwater aquifers, exploring how biology controls geochemical reactions, and determining how earthquake seismologists determine the what the earth is made of using fruit as a proxy (shown here).
Description: RESESS is a summer internship program dedicated to increasing the diversity of students entering the geosciences, developed by UNAVCO in Boulder, CO. We have participated in this program annually, supporting an intern (or two) in a field-intensive summer-research experience at one of local field sites. Here, we collect data in Rocky Mountain National Park. Previous interns include the amazing Ian Gambill (Haskell Indian Nations University, 2019), Teodora Mitroi (Georgia State, 2018), Kassidy Ulmer (Penn State, 2016), Stacy Hendricks (Rocky Mountain College, 2015), Anny Sainvil (Smith College, 2015), and Jackie Romero (Southern Methodist University, 2014).
Description: Earth Explorers is a program run by the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Started in 2010, this program supports approximately 20 middle-school students, who learn about science by working directly with scientists from a myriad of institutions near Boulder, CO. Not only do the students interview the scientists, they learn how to write, edit and produce a video about a story they develop in cooperation with the scientists. Holly Barnard and I worked with a group of students in 2016; our Oscar-worthy performance is here.
Description: As part of a larger project exploring Buruli ulcer, an infectious disease found largely in sub-Saharan Africa, we worked with a group of school teachers and their students at Penns Valley High School and the Boa-Amponsem Secondary School in Dunkwa-on-Offin, Ghana to build relationships between disease and human effects. In Pennsylvania, students and teachers investigated West Nile virus and Lyme disease, infectious diseases that hit closer to home, and they shared their findings with their Ghanaian partners via video clips, web sites, and wikis—and vice versa. Both groups developed materials to educate their own local communities about the diseases as well as aspects of the other country’s cultures. Teachers from Ghana came to Penns Valley, and Penns Valley teachers traveled to Ghana as part of the exchange, and we donated a library to a partner school in Pokukrom, shown here.
Years: 2012, 2016
Description: Mike Gooseff and I conducted two field-based training courses on surface water-groundwater exchange, hosted by CUAHSI, one outside of the Shale Hills Critical Zone Observatory and one hosted by the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory. Attendees learn the fundamentals behind and gain hands-on experience using a variety of techniques, including equipment deployment and data processing and analysis. Our goals were to introduce and train new users to novel techniques and stimulate discussion about how to appropriately apply these techniques and from where the next breakthroughs in quantifying stream-groundwater dynamics may come.
Description: This three-week course ran from mid-May to early-June each summer, with undergraduate researchers from Penn State and three participating historically black universities: Jackson State University, Fort Valley State and Elizabeth City State University. Students combined field experimentation, data analysis, and numerical modeling with in-class instruction during to develop hypotheses regarding the processes controlling solute transport at the Shale Hills Critical Zone Observatory. Environmental consultants, government employees, and small companies participated in the field camp to demonstrate hydrogeophysical field equipment and highlight jobs in environmental fields. Goals of the program were for students to: (1) apply their knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering to real field problems, (2) conduct experiments and analyze/interpret data, (3) function in multidisciplinary teams, and (4) communicate their scientific data and analyses effectively.