2008 Joint Meeting of The Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies with the Gulf Coast Section of SEPM

Paper No. 25
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-6:00 PM

Nasa's Planetary Geology and Geophysics Undergraduate Research Program (PGGURP): The Value of Undergraduate Geoscience Internships

GREGG, Tracy K.P., Department of Geological Sciences, The University at Buffalo, State University of New York, 876 Natural Sciences Complex, Buffalo, NY 14260, tgregg@geology.buffalo.edu

NASA's Planetary Geology and Geophysics Program began sponsoring PGGURP in 1978, spearheaded by Prof. Jack King (University at Buffalo) in an effort to help scientists deal with what was then seen as a flood of Viking Orbiter data. Each year since then, PGGURP has paired 8 – 15 undergraduates with NASA-funded Principal Investigators (PIs) around the country for approximately 8 weeks during the summer. Unlike other internship programs, the students are not housed together, but are paired, one-on-one, with a PI at his or her home institution. Since PGGURP's inception, students have worked at sites ranging from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. PGGURP covers the student's travel and lodging costs, as well as supplies a cost-of-living stipend.

Approximately 30% of the undergraduate PGGURP participants continue on to graduate school in the planetary sciences. We consider this to be an enormous success, because the participants are among the best and brightest undergraduates in the country with a wide range of declared majors (e.g., physics, chemistry, biology, as well as geology). Furthermore, those students that do continue tend to excel, and point to the internship as a turning point in their scientific careers.

The NASA PIs who serve as mentors agree that this is a valuable experience for them, too, and many of them have been hosting interns annually for well over a decade. The PI obtains enthusiastic and intelligent undergraduate, free of charge, for a summer, while having the opportunity to work closely with today's students who are the future of planetary science.

Encourage your students to apply to this, and other NASA-sponsored internship programs: everyone benefits. See http://www.acsu.buffalo.edu/~tgregg/pggurp.html (PGGURP) and http://www.lpi.usra.edu/lpiintern/ for another NASA-sponsored internship at the Lunar and Planetary Science Institute in Houston, TX.