GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 187-5
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM


MILLER, Gretchen L. and LEINBACH, Adrianne A., Natural Sciences, Wake Technical Community College, 9101 Fayetteville Road, Raleigh, NC 27603,

Wake Technical Community College (Wake Tech) is the largest two-year college (2YC) in North Carolina and has a highly diverse student body. Most of the ~700 students who take our geology courses each semester are completing a natural science credit for their Associate in Arts (AA) or Associate in Science (AS) degree.

Wake Tech has been collaborating with the geoscience faculty at North Carolina State University (NC State) since 2012 to generate more interest in geoscience and form a transfer pathway for our diverse students. Wake Tech geoscience faculty identify potential geoscience majors in our introductory geology courses, and provide mentoring on education and career opportunities in the geosciences. Some of these students are selected to participate in paid summer research internships at NC State, culminating in a poster symposium at the end of the summer.

The project has attracted an increasingly diverse group of students to the geosciences. During the five years of this collaboration, over 40 students have completed at least one geoscience research project, with over 25% of those students returning for a second summer of more advanced research. Most of the students who have completed a research project have continued to pursue a geoscience Bachelor’s degree, with several former students now employed in the geoscience workforce or pursuing a graduate degree. Additionally, the students who have returned to Wake Tech after completing a research project have formed a community to support one another and promote the program.

The next phase of the project will substantially grow the program in new directions. While some students will continue to complete research projects at NC State, several others will have the opportunity to work in the field with paleontologists from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. In addition, students will participate in professional socialization and outreach activities such as presenting their research at professional meetings, interacting with geoscience researchers and professional geoscientists, and volunteering at high school career fairs. Mentoring of students will be conducted on multiple levels, including peer mentoring, education and research mentoring from professors, and career mentoring from professionals.