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. 6
Presentation Time: 9:50 AM

Research Experiences in Solid Earth Science for Students(RESESS); Strategies for Success

ERIKSSON, Susan C., Earth Observatory of Singapore, 50 Nanyang Avenue, Singapore, 639798, Singapore, susan.eriksson@gmail.com

RESESS is a multi-year, paid research internship program with the goal of increasing participation of people from under-represented groups in STEM fields in the solid earth sciences. The three year pilot project set out to transfer the atmospheric science SOARS internship model to a different subject area. Several ‘best practices' based on numerous federal reports informed the conceptualization of RESESS, including: targeted recruitment, enriched research experiences, personal attention, faculty engagement, peer support, bridging, institutional leadership, and continuous evaluation.

External evaluation used ethnographic methods due to the low number of participants, and ongoing interviews provided formative evaluation for modifications of the program. Recruitment, faculty engagement, personal attention, and institutional leadership provided the most marked challenges, and yet provided the most support for the success of RESESS to date. Recruitment of students proved time and resource intensive but also provided new ways for the research community and UNAVCO to engage new partners. Faculty engagement was unexpectedly time consuming as mentors need a strong support system throughout the entire summer. On the other hand, having members of the science community step up to support RESESS was extremely gratifying to the people who manage RESESS. Personal attention is a hallmark of RESESS and similar programs with a small number of interns. Despite demands on project staff, positive rewards resulted from progress in students' careers and in the scientific community. Institutional support from UNAVCO's board of directors, management, and advisory committees as well as support from program partners IRIS and the USGS, Golden have been essential in starting an ambitious nation-wide program.

Modifications from the SOARS model incorporated non-sequential summer experiences because of required field camps for geology and geophysics students and program changes due to a disseminated group of research mentors and projects.