GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 26-21
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-5:30 PM


ROLLINS, Stephanie M.1, LEINBACH, Adrianne A.2 and MILLER, Gretchen L.2, (1)Physical Sciences, Wake Technical Community College, 6600 Louisburg Road, Raleigh, NC 27616, (2)Physical Sciences, Wake Technical Community College, 9101 Fayetteville Road, Raleigh, NC 27603

Since 2012, geology students from Wake Technical Community College (Wake Tech), the largest two-year college (2YC) in North Carolina, have been participating in paid summer research experiences under the guidance of geoscience faculty at North Carolina State University (NC State). In 2017, through an NSF-funded GEOPATHS grant, this collaboration was expanded to include partners from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (NCMNS), the Carolinas Chapter of the Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists (AEG), and the Wake County Public School System (WCPSS).

All of Wake Tech’s geoscience faculty members contribute to identifying potential geoscience majors from introductory geology courses, and provide mentoring on geoscience degrees and career opportunities. Since 2017, twenty students from diverse backgrounds have successfully completed paid summer research internships, and eleven students are currently conducting research projects in the summer of 2019. Student interns either participate in research projects at NC State, or conduct field research in the southwestern United States with paleontologists from NCMNS. Students perform meaningful research, under the mentorship of faculty, researchers, and graduate students at our partner institutions, and then produce a poster that they present at an undergraduate research symposium. Each year, four of the interns are selected to further present their posters at national/international meetings, including Geological Society of America (GSA) and the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP).

Interns returning to Wake Tech the following fall participate in outreach activities to promote geoscience opportunities to their Wake Tech peers in the geology classroom, at Wake Tech STEM events, and to local primary and secondary schools. Students in the program have been instrumental in the recruitment of new students through their enthusiasm and contributions in the various outreach activities. The experience for most student interns has been transformative and has led to them continuing their education in a geoscience field. We find that meaningful paid research experiences and mentoring early in a student’s career can encourage diverse 2YC students to choose a major and career in geoscience.