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Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 1:45 PM


ANDERSON, Steven W., MAST Institute and the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, CO 80639,

Reflecting upon a 17-year career as a solitary faculty member in charge of a geology program built from scratch reveals a number of successes and failures that others may learn from. As expected, involving undergraduates in research benefitted the students directly by providing new experiences, learning avenues, opportunities for publication and meeting presentation, and professional contacts. In addition, creating highly-visible opportunities for some students served to raise the expectations and quality of work for the entire program as students competed for limited research slots. Several strategies for implementing research opportunities worked better than others. One lesson learned was to avoid involving freshman and senior students. I lost several talented freshmen to transfer, and a number of exceptional seniors simply did not have enough time to push projects forward as they balanced research with applying for graduate school or employment. My most successful undergraduates all started as sophomores or first-semester juniors. Another strategy for making the most of working with undergraduate researchers was to convince my superiors that this work was fundamentally a TEACHING endeavor, rather than research. In many schools where solitary geosciences faculty exist, teaching is weighted much higher for evaluation purposes than research, so a vigorous research program can go virtually unnoticed by administrators unless it is packaged as a teaching exercise. Finding funding is a hurdle encountered by all solitary geosciences faculty, and I found that it was worthwhile to vie for highly competitive NSF and NASA grants rather than relying solely on small university grants. Although success rates are low, the benefits of having funding for course buyout, summer salary, and travel were worthwhile. Early in my career, time for proposal writing came from unfunded summers, but the reward of working through rejections and resubmissions was ultimately worth the time.
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