GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 121-10
Presentation Time: 2:30 PM-6:30 PM


MCGARY, R, Dept of Geology and Environmental Science, James Madison University, 800 South Main St., Harrisonburg, VA 22807 and GARCIA Jr., Angel, Department of Geology and Environ Sc., James Madison University, 801 Carrier Drive, Harrisonburg, VA 22807-0001

U-ROCKS (Undergraduate Research Opportunities in Cave and Karst Science) is an NSF funded REU program initiating in the summer of 2022. We will host ten students (for each of the years 2022-2024) for ten weeks to support individual mentored research projects focusing on different aspects of cave and karst science across a variety of disciplines.

Cave and karst landscape covers approximately 20% of the land surface in the United States, and aquifers in karst provide nearly 50% of the drinking water derived from ground sources. These aquifers are particularly vulnerable to contamination and the terrain itself presents additional hazards such as sinkholes and siltation. Additionally, the caves are often homes to unique ecosystems. The multi-disciplinary nature of cave and karst science means that it is often approached from a narrow perspective, viewed as a small piece of each of the disciplines within which it is covered at all. An REU provides an opportunity to present a broader perspective, and to give the students an opportunity to see how members of a working group function to bring their particular areas of expertise together, and allow collaborations that will result in abstracts and publications with student authors. As our resources continue to become more precious and our society continues to demand the expansion of housing, transportation arteries, and energy supplies, the need for karst specialists will continue to increase. U-ROCKS will be the first NSF REU program with a focus on cave and karst science.

Student activities for U-ROCKS can be divided into four categories: 1) mentored independent research projects; 2) scientific workshops in cave and karst science; 3) personal and professional development; and 4) building a learning community through peer mentoring and social activities. All of these will be driven by experienced faculty mentoring.

U-ROCKS recognizes the importance of student self-efficacy and student identity within STEM in persistence and retention, and have designed an REU course intended to emphasize those things. We will be building a student community that highlights cross-cultural exchanges with a group of mentors who reflect that diversity. Undergraduate students from any U.S. (including territories) University, four-year college, or community college will be eligible to apply. Students in attendance will receive a stipend and food allowance.