2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 8
Presentation Time: 10:25 AM


PETERSON, Virginia1, RYAN, Jeffrey G.2, YURKOVICH, Steven P.3, BURR, Jonathan1 and KRUSE, Sarah2, (1)Geology Department, Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI 49401, (2)Department of Geology, University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fowler Ave, Tampa, FL 33620, (3)Department of Geology, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC 28723-9047, petersvi@gvsu.edu

Two NSF-REU grants over four years were structured as a project in which students and faculty worked together on a primary research question. The program ran at two “sites” each summer. Participants were first based at Western Carolina University in close proximity to areas where they conducted field mapping and observation, sampled rock units, and collected geophysical data. Then participants traveled to research labs at the University of South Florida to perform geochemical, petrological, and geophysical analyses. Twelve students a year participated in a 7- or 8-week summer program and worked in 3-person teams. As the summer progressed and student confidence and understanding increased, teams evolved to address specific projects related to the research. Faculty mentors provided a balance of support and independence, allowing students to make mistakes and to learn from each other. At programs' end, first drafts of abstracts were written and students used e-communication to assemble posters to be presented at a subsequent SEGSA meeting.

The scientific focus was to assess the origin and evolution of several metamorphosed mafic-ultramafic complexes in the western NC Blue Ridge. These rocks are easily recognizable in the field, locally well exposed, and represent relatively simple chemical systems. They also occur in modern plate tectonic settings, and are of economic importance in the region. Further, students could collect high quality data using relatively straightforward laboratory analyses.

With few exceptions, participants rated the experience very highly, indicating that it significantly improved their skills, confidence, and understanding to develop and carry a research problem to completion. They also learned important team building skills and their ability to learn from each other helped many to initiate professional networking. Of the 48 students who completed the program more than 80% have pursued graduate studies (9 of these at the Ph.D. level), many indicating the important influence the program had on their careers. We believe that our collaborative faculty-student team approach and our close involvement with students in this research experience have been critical to its successful funding and implementation.