2002 Denver Annual Meeting (October 27-30, 2002)

Paper No. 18
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


RYAN, Jeffrey G., Geology, Univ of South Florida, SCA 528, 4202 East Fowler Ave, Tampa, FL 33620 and HARDEN, Judy A., Geology, Univ of South Florida, 4202 E. Fowler Ave, Tampa, FL 33620, ryan@chuma.cas.usf.edu

At USF, undergraduate mentoring in geochemical research has taken two different tracks: 1) individual direction of students in focused investigations, either in Summer, or during the academic year, and 2) collaborative, group-based work in the Summer as part of our ongoing REU Site program with WCU. Individual USF students have completed projects on a range of topics: a) petrology of meta-volcanic and intrusive rocks of the Appalachians; b) B-Be-Li studies of arc, forearc, and intraplate igneous and metamorphic rocks; and c) contaminant studies of sediments and rocks in fluvial and subsurface hydrologic systems. Students participate to a limited degree in defining the overall research problem, but are afforded independence in refining research foci, and pursuing answers using available analytical resources. Of 10 individually mentored students, all have presented results at regional or national meetings (GSA, AGU), 6 completed/are pursuing graduate degrees in Geology, one went into law, and the rest work as geoscience professionals. In our REU Site (collaborative w/ Western Carolina Univ.), participants conduct fieldwork in the Blue Ridge, followed by 3-4 weeks at USF analysing collected samples. The overall research target is defined, but teams of participants work with faculty to define and pursue specific research questions. Group posters on each Summer's work are presented at regional GSA meetings. ~20% of participants pursue offshoot projects with on-campus mentors during the following academic year. Of the 36 REU participants who have now completed their B.S. degrees, 24 pursued/completed graduate degrees (3 are Ph.D. candidates) and all but four of the others are working as geoscience professionals. Individual mentoring involves greater time commitments by faculty, and generates small datasets, but allows students to master technical skills and concepts, and lets them pursue analytically challenging problems. The group approach gets students up to speed quickly in the research process, and can generate a much larger body of publishable data, but the degree of technical mastery is lower, and the pace of the program can leave even able students behind intellectually. Post-summer synthesis exercises (such as preparing group posters, or a post-Summer offshoot research project) may be a necessary "capstone" to these experiences