GSA Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington, USA - 2017

Paper No. 233-3
Presentation Time: 2:00 PM


WIRTH, Karl R., Geology Department, Macalester College, Saint Paul, MN 55105 and DAVIDSON, Cameron, Department of Geology, Carleton College, 1 N College St, Northfield, MN 55057,

Since its inception thirty years ago, the Keck Geology Consortium has continually evolved to meet the changing needs of geoscience students and faculty. Initially formed to support research and encourage interaction among faculty at ten small liberal arts colleges, the Keck Geology Consortium has expanded to include 17 partner institutions and student participants from non-member institutions. A core mission of the Consortium is to provide undergraduate students with authentic, yearlong experiences that encompass the entire research process from problem identification to data analysis and publication. Following a collaborative, field or laboratory summer research project, students continue their work with a local campus advisor during the following academic year. This model provides students with more sustained and engaged research experiences by facilitating deeper levels of investigation, greater time for more sophisticated and time-consuming methods, and enhanced collaborations with greater numbers of mentors, researchers, and peers. In addition to the benefits of pooled resources, members of the Consortium have also benefitted from enriched networking and the exchange of faculty expertise on pedagogy and research. Among the greatest challenges to the partnership is the distributed nature of the research projects, student and faculty researchers, and partner institutions; this has been moderated somewhat using social media to foster communication. Contributions from the member institutions, NSF-REU, and ExxonMobil currently support consortium programs.

In a renewed effort to better contribute to a stronger and more diverse geoscience workforce, the Consortium has implemented several new programs. Students receive professional development through mentored participation in a professional conference, and new partnerships with NSF-funded facilities are designed to encourage student and faculty access to cutting-edge instrumentation and techniques. A Gateway Program offers authentic research experiences for rising sophomores and is designed to build on campus-based efforts to broaden STEM participation. A new program also supports multidisciplinary research projects that are place-based and societally relevant.