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

Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 9:05 AM


HIRSCHMANN, Marc M., WHITNEY, Donna L., SAAR, Martin O. and KRESSLER, Sharon J., Geology & Geophysics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, hirsc022@umn.edu

The Department of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities has a summer undergraduate internship program, “Fluids from Surface to Core”, which has been running for 8 years, the last 6 as an NSF-funded REU site. The 10 week experience typically involves 10-14 sophomores and juniors, drawn from a competitive application pool from colleges and universities nationwide. This year, students were mentored by a total of 8 faculty members in the fields of seismology, hydrogeology, petrology, rock magnetism, geochemistry, geophysical fluid dynamics, and rock/mineral physics. In the last 8 years, 102 interns from 60 U.S. institutions have participated in the program. Over the course of the program, nearly every faculty member in our 23-faculty department has advised an intern.

The program differs from many other REU sites in that interns work on separate and disparate projects as individuals or in groups of 2 or 3, rather than in large groups. This design presents opportunities and challenges. Each intern or small group of interns is paired with a faculty advisor, but may also work closely with a graduate student or postdoc. Consequently, interns receive several layers of supervision and mentorship. One clear advantage of this design is that the experience closely mirrors that of a “practice” graduate student experience. Feedback from interns shows that many enter the program with the intent to find out what graduate school is like, and most then find that the positive experience reinforces their desire to pursue graduate research. Post-experience polling shows that in many cases, the REU experience helps former interns develop research interests and goals for graduate school. The cohort experience among interns is reinforced by a number of programmatic features, including orientation meetings at the outset of the program, 4 weekend field trips, group housing in university dorms, a mid-program research meeting, and a final group poster session.