Mentoring Undergraduate Student Research as Part of the NSF-IUSE Geoscience Engagement and Outreach Program: Successes and Challenges

Authors: Corene J. Matyas*, University of Florida, Kathryn Stofer, University of Florida, Jasmeet Judge, University of Florida, Heidi Lannon, Santa Fe College, Brandan Lanman, Orlando Science Center
Topics: Climatology and Meteorology, Geography Education
Keywords: geoscience education, climatology, mentoring
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: Download


When first enrolling in courses, few students understand that the field of geosciences exists. Yet there are an abundance jobs and a need for diversity in geosciences. Our team received funding from the National Science Foundation to: 1) recruit, retain, and transfer primarily underrepresented students in a two-year degree program at Santa Fe College (SFC) to Bachelor's degree programs in geosciences, 2) establish collaborations among SFC students and faculty, University of Florida (UF) faculty mentors, and Orlando Science Center (OSC) informal science educators, and 3) increase interest in careers in geosciences by engaging in research, education and outreach. Each year, 6 different SFC students complete a Physical Geography course and two seminars that focus on team building, development of research skills, exposure to geoscience-based careers, and transfer applications. For the portion of the program involving UF faculty-mentored research, students select a project that focuses on climatology (Matyas), soil hydrology (Judge), or geoscience education (Stofer). Students also complete a paid internship at OSC. This poster includes an overview of the research mentored by Co-PI Matyas that builds spatial analysis skills in GIS while learning about tropical cyclones and their rainfall patterns. Overall program successes and challenges are discussed. Many students presented their research at a conference and/or demonstrated greatly improved oral communication skills at the end of the year-long program. However, other students faced issues with time management, transportation to the UF campus, and selected projects for which they had difficulty in acquiring the skills to perform.

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