GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 114-10
Presentation Time: 4:05 PM


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

Undergraduate research experiences have become ubiquitous and widely recognized as important for the development of a vigorous and diverse STEM workforce. However, this was not always the case. In the 1980’s, pioneers like Reinhard (Bud) Wobus and a number of like-minded colleagues at small liberal arts colleges from across the country suggested that undergraduate students working with dedicated faculty mentors could make a real contribution to science through undergraduate research. Fortunately, Bud found Sandra Glass, a sympathetic ear at the W. M. Keck Foundation, and in 1987 the Keck Geology Consortium was formed. The Keck Consortium supports undergraduate research and collaboration between students and faculty from all over the United States and has supported >1600 students from >140 institutions and >530 faculty from >50 institutions since 1987. There are also more than 50 Keck alumni in college/university teaching and research positions.

Today’s Keck Geology REU is a lasting legacy of the program started by Bud and his colleagues. With support from the NSF-REU program and members of the Consortium, the Keck Geology Consortium has continued to evolve its programs and membership in response to educational and societal needs. The Advanced program for rising seniors consists of a four-week summer field and laboratory research experience followed by mentored research during the academic year that culminates in a presentation at a national meeting and publication of a “short contribution” in the Proceedings of the Keck Geology Consortium. Our current Gateway program for rising sophomores is also modeled after the innovative sophomore program that was first pioneered in the early 1990’s. The goals of the Gateway program include diversifying and retaining students in the geosciences by giving students an opportunity to explore and do research early in their undergraduate careers. Other aspects of current programs, including a focus on cutting edge instrumentation and professional development also find their origins in the program started by Bud and his colleagues. Presently, the Keck Geology Consortium is collaborating with SERC at Carleton College to better understand the development of science identity and to develop new instruments for assessing undergraduate research experiences.