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. 10
Presentation Time: 4:00 PM

Plutons and Porphyroblasts: Developing a Collaborative Student Research Program in Hardrock Geology

LACKEY, Jade Star, Department of Geology, Pomona College, Claremont, CA 91711, JadeStar.Lackey@pomona.edu

In developing a field-based undergraduate research program at Pomona College and previously at the College of Wooster, I have emphasized annual studies in which a team of two or more students investigates a contact metamorphic setting. Students complete stand-alone research projects that focus on aspects of either the magmatic history of a pluton or metamorphism of the rocks that it intrudes. This method emphasizes the interplay of igneous and metamorphic processes and is modeled on my own undergraduate research experience stressing team investigations of distinct but related questions about deformation and metamorphism in a Vermont contact metamorphic aureole (Hannula et al., 1999, J. Met. Geol). Successful implementation of this method requires careful tailoring of projects to individual student talents and interests, and projects must have equal importance in the overall study. The collaborative approach is particularly successful when sophomores and juniors assist rising seniors in the field, thereby building continuity in the research program.

Recent collaborations with students studying composite batholiths in the Sierra Nevada and Nova Scotia confirm the clear advantages to this approach. Mutual field assisting and regular group meetings builds a collaborative atmosphere, fostering group discussion of research progress while requiring that each student become an expert in their area. In this setting, the students teach one another, yielding a learning experience perhaps more valuable than the traditional adviser-advisee method. Temporal overlap in student projects allows discoveries by one student to lead to new hypotheses about a field area that can be tested by other students; this immerses them in the scientific method. Additionally, findings are more easily consolidated for publication. Ultimately, the motivation of each student dictates the success of his/her project.