Monday, December 13, 2010

Reflections on ED12A - Development of Geoscientists from Novice to Professional

The second set of talks in this session covered the gradient from undergraduate education to career preparation to early-career support of geoscientists. Jane Dmochowski (ED12A-01) discussed how the Earth and Environmental Science Department at the University of Pennsylvania has implemented a mandatory junior seminar on research methods that teaches undergraduates how to do research. From guest lectures, analysis of previous senior theses, scientific literature review and computer labs focused on data analysis, students learn how to do review scientific literature, develop a project idea, and analyze data using different quantitative methods. What a great way to prepare your students for entry into graduate school. One challenge that was noted was finding mentors for the students.

In the next talk (ED12A-02) Siva Murugesu, who presented Wilson and Hermans talk (ED12A-02), discussed the Summer Synthesis Institutes in hydrology which bring together students, post-docs, and faculty on intensive research projects for about 7 weeks. The work generated from these intensive institutes have included five topical session at AGU between 2008 and 2010, and over 60 publications.  Coming back to the topic of mentors, it was noted that the role of mentors in these institutes were to "reinforce a positive work environment, coach students out of their comfort zones, and break down language barriers - both disciplinary and cultural".

Next we heard from Diane Doser (ED12A-03) from University of Texas at El Paso discuss how UTEP's Department of Geological Sciences is preparing geoscience student for the workforce through several activities including the Student Colloquim, an annual professional meeting organized and run by students that engages not only academics but also industry professionals. Industry professionals not only support some of the major costs of the event, but also serve as judges for student presentations. The Colloquim serves not only to prepare students for the workforce, but also as a recruiting tool for the department and industry, and as a way for the department to maintain strong industry connections. Another program that UTEP offers is its Pathways to Geoscience Program which includes a two-week summer field program that is for high school students and teachers, and a research experiences for undergraduate students. It's been a great way to connect with high schools and inform teachers and students about geoscience careers. In this program, undergraduates also get experience writing resumes and learning how to conduct research.

We heard from Randy Richardson and co-authors (ED12A-04) next about the resources that SERC's On the Cutting Edge offers for geoscience graduates and post-doctoral fellows who are pursuing academic careers, from workshops to online resources. There's a lot of great information on this site, so take some time to peruse all the pages. The early-career faculty resources are posted here and the resources about preparing for a career in academia are posted here.

Jo Venus, YES Network President, next discussed the preliminary results from the Decision Points Survey - if you haven't taken it yet, please take a moment and fill out the survey form. I'll let Jo fill you in on the preliminary results, so check back for her post on this topic.

Next we heard from Jenny Baeseman from the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS) a very dynamic and active international and interdisciplinary group of early-career polar researchers. APECS is extremely active on the web and at meetings including their virtual poster sessions, thriving mentoring program, webinar series, blogs, videos, and the workshops and networking events they organize. If you're doing polar research, whether in the Arctic, Antarctica, or in any of the world's polar regions (alpine and above) get connected to this vibrant community. 

Our session closed with a talk by Sarah Gaines about Earth Stewardship Science and the work she's been doing in developing international research networks based in Africa. The talk generated a lot of discussion afterward.  For those of you who were there today, you can continue the discussions that started today at the  
UNESCO-AfricaArray-AGI townhall meeting - Earth Stewardship Science: Building Research Networks in Africa
Wednesday at 12:30 PM–1:30 PM, Moscone West, Room 2009

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