UH Faculty Receive $1 Million from NSF to Fund Field Investigations and Experiences Leading to Degrees in Geoscience (FIELDGeo)

Fifty Undergraduate and Community College Students to Participate in Annual Winter-Break Field Trip

A team of UH geoscientists and educators received $1 million in support from the NSF Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Hispanic-Serving Institutions to take 50 undergraduate and community college students annually on a winter-break field trip. Professors involved include Peter Copeland, Rob Stewart, Mike Murphy, Brandee Carlson, and Jinny Sisson.

Students Explore New Mexico
Students explore New Mexico during the 2022 Winter Field Trip.

Part of the cohort will be five upper-level students who will do research projects using data collected during the trip. The goals include increasing interest in geoscience degrees, retention of geoscience majors, and graduation rates among underrepresented students. The team also will expose pre-service math and science teachers to geoscience with the goal of them including geoscience in their future lesson plans.

Other key project components include a pre-field trip seminar for all participants and ongoing vertical mentoring that will bring together geoscience faculty, advanced undergraduate students, and new-to-geoscience students on a six-day field trip to New Mexico and West Texas.

This year, EAS also has participants from Wharton County Junior College, Alvin Community College, Lone Star College, University of Colorado, University of Kansas, New Mexico State University, and New Mexico Tech. In addition, this trip will include a longitudinal study from the College of Education led by Virginia Snodgrass-Rangel and Brad Smith focusing on these areas:

  1. How does participation in a field trip fulfill students?
  2. To what extent and for whom does participation in a field trip enhance geoscience identity?
  3. How and for whom does participation in a field trip comprise a transformative learning experience?

The team will explore these differences not only among traditional undergraduate students but also among community college students and pre-service secondary math and science teachers, where there is substantially less research on field trips.

The first trip planning is well underway to spend time in the Rio Grande Rift studying a modern delta, the Cookes Range to look at Laramide tectonics, and volcanics in the Davis Mountains ending with a star party at the McDonald Observatory.