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The Geoscience Division of the Council on Undergraduate Research has established an annual award to highlight the importance of mentoring undergraduate research activities.

Eligibility: All Geoscience faculty involved in mentoring undergraduate research.

Prize: $500 along with a year-long CUR membership.

Expectations of Awardee: Short presentation when prize is awarded during the NAGT luncheon at the national GSA conference in Denver.

Award Citation
The Geosciences Division of CUR annually recognizes an individual who serves as a role model for productive and transformative student-faculty mentoring relationships and for maintaining a sustained and innovative approach to the enterprise of undergraduate research.

Evidence of transformative student-faculty mentoring relationships include: leadership in fostering and sustaining the undergraduate research enterprise, student-mentor collaborations culminating in presentations at national or regional meetings and/or publication with student co-authors in peer-reviewed journals, and innovative approaches to involving undergraduates in research experiences incorporating research activities into the classroom and service learning.

Application Process

Nomination (including self nominations) materials: A two-page detailed narrative exploring how the candidate meets the criteria of the award, up to five-page CV that is focused on interactions with students, and two to five letters of support (at least one letter from a former student). Application remains on file for three years.

Send materials electronically to the co-chair of award committee working group (Dan Brabander, dbraband@wellesley.edu) by July 15, 2013. For citation and podcast from last year's winner see: http://tinyurl.com/geocurmentoraward


Welcome from the Chair

CUR.jpgAs more and more faculty at institutions of all sizes engage in undergraduate research, the Council on Undergraduate Research stands ready to assist. Our Geoscience division is extremely active, and we hope to reach out to our membership even more to help all researchers ramp up their own work.

Beyond the website...

Beyond our GeoCUR blog, visit these other sites to keep connected with the Geoscience Division of the Council on Undergraduate Research!

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Follow us on Twitter!  http://twitter.com/curgeoscience

View our photos in flickr!  http://www.flickr.com/photos/curgeoscience

Join us in Facebook!  Look for the group Council on Undergraduate Research Geoscientists

Screen Shot 2013-06-08 at 8.32.45 PM.pngCUR is an Associated Society of the Geological Society of America.

Screen Shot 2013-06-08 at 8.32.45 PM.png2013 GSA Annual Meeting & Exposition
"Celebrating Advances in Geoscience - GSA 125th Anniversary"
27-30 October 2013
Denver, Colorado USA  

Abstract deadline:   6 August 2013
Registration Deadline:    23 September 2013

T114. Changes in the Undergraduate Research Experience over Time: Perspectives from Individual Mentors, Departments, and Institutions (Posters)
Council on Undergraduate Research
Laura A. Guertin, P. Lee Phillips, Dan K. Moore
With advances in technology, increased field access, changes in funding, increased interdisciplinary work, etc., undergraduate research mentoring and programs have changed. This session encourages submissions from mentors, departments, and institutions to describe evolving practices.

524. Getting Started in Undergraduate Research for New, Future and Current Faculty.
Sat., 26 Oct., 1-5 p.m.
US$35. Limit: 20. CEU: 0.4.
Instructors: Lydia Fox, University of the Pacific Cosponsor: Council on Undergraduate Research Geosciences Division

This workshop is for faculty and postdoctoral scientists/graduate students. Topics will focus on integrating research practices into the classroom, scaling projects for students, effective approaches to mentoring undergraduate researchers, identifying funding sources. Based on the demographics of our participants, we may also include information on how to get a job at an academic institution where undergraduate research is required/emphasized.

2012 GSA and AGU

Workshop and sessions for Fall 2012 GSA and AGU meetings

American Geophysical Union

ED040: Undergraduate Geoscience Research Highlights
This poster session will bring together undergraduate student presenters with faculty co-authors to highlight undergraduate research experiences in Earth and space science, geoscience, and geophysics. Students from community colleges to research institutions, from the freshman through senior years are encouraged to disseminate their original ongoing and completed projects. The session is co-sponsored by the Council on Undergraduate Research-Geoscience Division and the American Geophysical Union.

Geological Society of America

T57. Building a Professional Portfolio through Hands-On Research Activities in the Geosciences: Focusing on Early Involvement of Undergraduate and K-12 Students (Posters)
GSA Geology and Society Division; Council on Undergraduate Research; GSA Environmental and Engineering Geology Division; GSA Geoscience Education Division
Nazrul I. Khandaker, Stanley Schleifer
This session is open to faculty mentors and students interested in general geology and environmental topics that warrant field, computational, and laboratory-based data as part of their research tools. Domestic and international geoscience-related issues are highly welcome.
Geoscience Education | Geoscience Information/Communication | Environmental Geoscience

T68. Undergraduate Research as Teaching Practice
Council on Undergraduate Research
Patricia Manley, Jeff Ryan, Edward C. Hansen
This session will deal with educational aspects of undergraduate research ranging from assessments of the pedagogical effectiveness of different approaches, mentoring students, and the nuts and bolts of setting up and doing research with students.
Geoscience Education

GSA Short Course

520. Getting Started in Undergraduate Research for New and Future Faculty.
Sat., 3 Nov., 1-5 p.m. US$25. Limit: 20. CEU: 0.4.
Cosponsor: Council on Undergraduate Research Geosciences Division.
Lydia Fox, University of the Pacific.

This workshop is for faculty and postdoctoral scientists/graduate students.  Topics will focus on integrating research practices into the classroom, scaling projects for students, effective approaches to mentoring undergraduate researchers, identifying funding sources.  Based on the demographics of our participants, we may also include information on how to get a job at an academic institution where undergraduate research is required/emphasized.

Three current/former GeoCUR Councilors have received significant recognition for their contributions to teaching and mentoring undergraduate students.

Patrick Burkhart (past Councilor) - has been selected as a 2012 Geological Society of America Fellow.  Congratulations, Patrick!

Kathy Surpless (past Councilor) - has been selected for the Geological Society of America's Geoscience Education Division Biggs Award for Excellence in Earth Science Teaching.  Congratulations, Kathy!

Anne Egger (current Councilor) - is the June Science Prize winner for Inquiry-Based Instruction (IBI). Her winning module utilizes freely available earthquake data to help students apply their knowledge to risk-related decision-making. You can read "Seismicity and Relative Risk" at this link.  Congratulations, Anne!

Councilor - Dan Moore

GeoCUR Councilor Dan Moore Dan Moore is a professor of geology at Brigham Young University - Idaho. He is also the Research Director of the Southeast Idaho Research Institute, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide mentored research experiences to undergraduate students. He has been a GeoCUR councilor since 2012 and a CUR member since 2010.

"Guiding undergraduates as they learn to practice their craft--both inside and outside the classroom--is very fulfilling. I enjoy watching them begin to think deeply, make connections, and develop as budding professionals as they engage in discovery. I find that students who choose to participate in undergraduate research learn more deeply and take more ownership of their education. Mentored student research provides me with opportunities to share my love of discovery with my students. I got involved in CUR because I wanted to understand best practices in undergraduate research. I have stayed because the organization does that well and because the people are great."

Councilor - Sarah Fortner

GeoCUR Councilor Sarah Fortner Sarah Fortner is an assistant professor of geology and environmental science at Wittenberg University. She has been a GeoCUR councilor since 2012.

"Mentoring undergraduate research brings me great joy! As we work through the scientific method, my students learn how to think in new ways and make their own discoveries. Scientific explorations expand our ability to think critically and creatively and I am thrilled to do this as my career. My students and future students will work on a variety of small-scale field sites using geochemistry as the framework. Small scales are ideal for determining geochemical processes (e.g. the relation between land use and watershed response, the affect of glacial melt on stream geochemistry) that can be used to understand global issues (e.g. water quality & quantity, climate change). While I am a new professor at Wittenberg, I am broadly trained and have worked with students of all ages and scientific backgrounds at field sites around the world. Recently, I have enjoyed exploring issues of interest to my students, seeing their personal connection to projects enhance their scientific experience."

2012 Posters on the Hill

The following posters represented the geosciences at Posters on the Hill, April 24, 2012.

New Hampshire
STUDENT: Katie Laro
INSTITUTION: Plymouth State University
DIVISION: Geosciences
POSTER TITLE: Updating the KSC/CCAFS Warm-Season Convective Wind Climatology
ABSTRACT: My project has been to update the Kennedy Space Center/Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Warm-Season Convective Wind Climatology by adding information for years, 2008 through 2011, from the previous coverage of 1995 through 2007. This work involves identifying convective periods, where thunderstorms and/or other convective showers were present in the area, by reviewing radar and surface-based observations. Next, the 5-minute peak wind observations for these periods from 36 KSC/CCAFS weather towers were collected, quality controlled and analyzed for various characteristics, such wind speeds, heights at which peak winds were recorded, time of peak wind speeds, and direction from which the winds were coming. Numerous radar files were also acquired and analyzed to update the radar characteristics. Some results were further confirmation that the higher convective winds most often come from linear shaped storms and interactions with linear boundaries. Another facet, included in the study, was investigating the overall low level flow regimes on a given day for both convective and non convective days. Flow regimes are classified by the position of the subtropical ridge axis relative to Florida. The results show that there was a solid correlation between flow regimes and convective events. By adding more years of data to the overall study, results more robust and useful. The climatology is used in training of weather forecasters at CCAFS and enhances their ability to forecast convective winds, which can affect KSC/CCAFS range operations.

New York
STUDENT: Elisabeth Anne Gallant
INSTITUTION: Buffalo State College
DIVISION: Geosciences
FACULTY ADVISOR: Bettina Martinez-Hackert
POSTER TITLE: Understanding the Eruptive History of Ilamatepec
ABSTRACT: Mt. Saint Helens' style eruptions (dangerously explosive) are typical for volcanoes abundant in the countries of Central America. In our study we began to unravel the unknown geological history of violent eruptions of El Salvador's largest volcano, Ilamatepec (Santa Ana), that last erupted in 2005. Its immediate surroundings include the country's major economic artery of sugarcane and coffee production, as well as the second and third largest cities of the country; a 25km radius around the volcano is home to nearly half a million people. Historical records and a few scientific inquiries indicate at least 9 moderate to large eruptions since the early 1500's. We initiated an expedition in March 2011 to collect volcanic deposits found layered in the crater scar of Ilamatepec. Expedition participants included the volcanologists of the geological survey of El Salvador, an undergraduate student team from Buffalo State College, a graduate student from SUNY Buffalo, and the National Tourist Police of El Salvador. Data collected were analyzed using optical microscopy methods, grain size distribution techniques, and scanning electron microscopy. Analysis of a 15-layer sequence indicates a very explosive history characterized by smaller steam eruptions, moderate steam and magma eruptions, and large magmatic eruption. The information learned through this process will allow us to address the hazards that account for potential damage to infrastructure and loss of life to the Salvadoran population by applying our understanding of previous events to future eruptions. This work was conducted in conjunction with the Panamerican Institute of Geography and History.

STUDENT: Lindsey J. Bowman
INSTITUTION: The College of Wooster
DIVISION: Geosciences
POSTER TITLE: Fire and Ice: What Volcanic Relationships Observed in Sveifluhals Ridge Can Tell us About the Eyjafjallajökull Eruption
FUNDING: National Science Foundation, Division of Earth and Ocean Sciences
ABSTRACT: The subglacial eruption of the volcano Eyjafjallajökull in April and May of 2010 cost the global economy almost 5 billion dollars and impacted millions of travelers. Understanding geologic natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions is very difficult, and predicting the nature or timeline of the eruptions is even more tenuous. One way to understand the dynamics of volcanic eruptions similar to Eyjafjallajökull is to study an ancient proxy. The Sveifluhals ridge in Southwest Iceland is a subglacial pillow ridge that erupted in a similar manner to Eyjafjallajökull thousands of years ago. To piece together the sequence of magmatic events that occur during a subglacial eruption, an intensive mapping and geochemical study was undertaken at Undirhlithar quarry, which exposes the interior of Sveifluhals ridge. From field observations of the quarry walls, we know that subglacial eruptions consist of multiple extrusive events, which build up the basal pillow units and are marked by stratified layers of yellow, glassy hyaloclastite material. Extrusive pillow units are cut by intrusive dikes that are mineralogically and geochemically different from the pillows. Geochemical and field relationships of the units along the quarry walls suggest a complicated sequence of eruptive and intrusive events, including pauses between eruptions and lateral transport of magma. The relationships between intrusive and extrusive events in an ancient proxy, such as those exposed at Undirhlithar quarry, can be used to reconstruct the 3-D volcanic history of a subglacially-erupted pillow ridge and could eventually help us understand subglacial volcanic dynamics in a modern setting.

South Carolina
STUDENT: Olga Tweedy
INSTITUTION: Coastal Carolina University
DIVISION: Geosciences
FACULTY ADVISOR: Varavut Limpasuvan
POSTER TITLE: Wintertime Polar Ozone Evolution during Stratospheric Vortex Break-Down
FUNDING: National Science Foundation
ABSTRACT: As envisioned by the Montreal protocol, the banning of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) has contributed gradually to ozone recovery. Yet, this past winter, a record ozone loss was observed over the Arctic, resulting in an unprecedented ozone hole that is gaining much public attention. Such unusual occurrence prompts the need to understand other mechanisms that may play a role in ozone variation. In this study, the change in polar ozone is investigated when the stratospheric circumpolar flow ("polar vortex") suddenly breaks down. Using the National Center for Atmospheric Research Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model, the air circulation and evolution of ozone-destroying species (nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and atomic oxygen) are examined in conjunction with ozone during four realistic vortex break-down events. In comparison with a typical wintertime evolution, the simulated polar ozone during these events exhibits anomalous behaviors in key maxima regions. A
"primary" ozone layer (near 40 km) experiences strong fluctuation due to horizontal mixing with low-latitude air. The "tertiary" ozone maximum at 72 km is lifted 5 km by intensified transport above the weakened vortex. The "secondary" layer's (90-110 km) concentration decreases by ~34% due to enhanced descent of nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide into the vortex. Unusual downwelling of ozone-destroying species permeates into the "primary" layer and potentially contributes to the spring time ozone destruction. These results highlight the impact of vortex dynamics on ozone through the transport of key chemical species. They also help us to better understand natural ozone fluctuation with respect to anthropogenic influence.

CUR held their 14th biennial conference at The College of New Jersey, NJ, June 23-26, 2010.  Several sessions were presented with a geoscience focus and by Geoscience Division members.  A sample of the talks and posters are listed below.
GSA in Minneapolis, October 2011. 

Technical session

T146. Student-Involved Research Experience in Earth-System Science: An Effective Tool for Recruitment and Retention in the Geosciences (Posters)
National Association of Geoscience Teachers; GSA Geoscience Education Division; GSA Geology and Society Division; Council on Undergraduate Research
Nazrul I. Khandaker, Stanley Schleifer
This session will enable participating students to share their field-based earth-system science content knowledge by demonstrating research potential. Topics are wide open and may include global climate change, pollution, and natural hazards-related information.
Geoscience Education; Environmental Geoscience; Geoscience Information/Communication


511. Establishing and Sustaining an Undergraduate Research Program: A Professional Development Workshop for New and Future Faculty.
Sat., 30 Oct., 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Fee: US$50; includes continental breakfast and lunch. Limit: 30. CEU: 0.9.
Cosponsor: Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR).
Lydia Fox, University of the Pacific; Ed Hansen, Hope College.
Abstract: This workshop is for faculty and postdoctoral scientists/graduate students. Topics in the morning will focus on establishing a research program with undergraduates (integrating research practices into the classroom, effective approaches to mentoring undergraduate researchers, identifying funding sources). Topics in the afternoon will focus on sustaining an undergraduate research program (maintaining research continuity and productivity, recruiting and mentoring researchers, balancing teaching and research, funding). Based on the demographics of our participants, we may also include information on how to get a job at an academic institution (primarily undergraduate). Participants may join for either half of the workshop or for the full day.

2011 Posters on the Hill

The following posters represented the geosciences and geography at Posters on the Hill, April 13, 2011.

STUDENT: Lujendra Ojha
INSTITUTION: University of Arizona
POSTER TITLE: Discovery, orientation, distribution and formation of a mass wasting process on Mars: Transient Slope Lineae.
DIVISION: Geosciences

ABSTRACT: High resolution images of Mars acquired with the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) have allowed us to carry out detailed analyses of surface processes on Mars. A new method of change detection was developed to characterize temporal changes on Mars due to currently active geologic processes. The method uses high resolution (1 m/post) Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) and their associated orthorectified images. Orthorectified images helps eliminate any distortion on the images created by different viewing geometry of camera. Through this process, flow-like features were discovered, which were named "Transient Slope Lineae", or TSL. They form on southern-mid latitudes of Mars during southern summer. At southern mid-latitudes the surface temperature can exceed the sublimation and in some extreme cases the melting point of water during this time. Temperature higher than 300K is needed to melt water ice, however, water ice with impurities like perchlorate, have lower melting point. TSLs forming only during times when surface temperature is high enough to
melt or sublimate ice. Based on the seasonality, geographical and orientation distribution of these features, they form due to either sublimation/melting of water/brine ice. If these features are formed due to liquid water, it has a significant implication towards search for extraterrestrial life.

STUDENT: Jacqueline M Boudreau
INSTITUTION: University of New England
FACULTY ADVISOR: Charles Tilburg
POSTER TITLE: Destruction of the Delaware Bay Ecosystem by the Invasive species Mitten Crabs (Eriocheir sinensis) : A study of the their behavioral and dominating presence
DIVISION: Geosciences

ABSTRACT: Invasive species cause extensive ecological damage by dominating a region, wilderness areas, particular habits, and outcompeting native species. The Chinese Mitten crab, Eriocheir sinensis known for its hairy mitten-like claws and high migration ranges, is one such species that originated in Asia. Recently, it has been spotted in estuarine communities and fisherman's crab pots in Delaware Bay. Bordered by the state of New Jersey to the north and the state of Delaware to the south, Delaware Bay is one of the richest biological resources on the East Coast. It is home to hundreds of marine species and a $7 million dollar Blue Crab commercial and recreational crabbing industry whose larvae are susceptible to predation by the mitten crab. As part of the crab's life cycle, females spawn larvae that then spend two to three weeks free-floating vertically in the water column before settling closer to shore. Eventual settlement can then be determined by the movement and behavior of the crab larvae. Using a larval swimming behavior model coupled to a circulation model, we show that environmental factors such as wind direction, magnitude, and different larvae behavior are strong determinants of settlement patterns and in all help to determine whether larval settlement is to be expected on New Jersey or Delaware sides of the bay. Greater knowledge of the settlement patterns will help to understand how the larvae will react to climate change and will aid resource managers in determining their possible future settlement locations.

STUDENT: Jeremy Anthony
INSTITUTION: Augsburg College
POSTER TITLE: Understanding Ecosystem Carbon Uptake and its Relationship to Environmental Variables using Wavelets
DIVISION: Geosciences

ABSTRACT: Recently, much public attention and scientific effort has addressed the biogeochemical responses of terrestrial ecosystems to anticipated changes in climate. The objective of this research is to investigate ecosystem carbon uptake at a high elevation coniferous forest using mathematical tools and measurements related to the biogeochemical cycling of the forest. I examined carbon uptake in relationship to measured environmental variables such as temperature and sunlight. I used advanced mathematical techniques (wavelets) to contrast these environmental variables. Utilizing wavelets allows for the comparison of the coupling or decoupling of environmental variables to carbon uptake at hourly, daily, monthly, and seasonal time scales. From the years 1999-2007, there was a general trend in decoupling between carbon uptake and temperature over the daily time scale. The result of this decoupling over the years poses many questions of the current and future response of this ecosystem to environmental variation. Future research plans include: statistically analyzing the wavelet data; applying our technique to additional ecosystems across the United States and the world; further connecting these mathematical tools to measurements made in the environmental geosciences.

STUDENT: Brian Michael Culp
INSTITUTION: Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania
POSTER TITLE: Integration of Quickbird Satellite Imagery and GIS to Map Subzones within a Salt Marsh near Wallops Island, VA.
DIVISION: Geosciences

ABSTRACT: Mapping coastal marshes using remote sensing techniques provides a means of monitoring large coastal areas with a greater frequency than is possible using ground surveys. We compared high resolution (0.6m/pixel) imagery to ground-based plant survey data (transects every meter on each of three 50 X 50 meter plots) collected in a salt marsh near Wallops Island, VA, to determine the ability to detect small changes in vegetation within low marsh and high marsh areas. We created a high resolution (0.6m/pixel) infrared false color image covering a large area of the marsh by the process of pansharpening. When the three detailed hand-mapped plots of vegetation were overlaid on the pansharpened images, some of the mapped subzones of the low marsh and high marsh were clearly identifiable. The patterns that clearly correlated with distinct subzones in the ground truthed plots were then used to identify and quantify similar subzones in the available imagery covering a much larger area of the salt marsh. GIS would be the ideal platform with which to track and analyze this information over time. Several methods of integration will be explored to determine the most efficient and effective method. Implementation of this method may provide a means of monitoring small scale changes in Wallops Island salt marsh subzones over time and provide a useful tool for coastal managers.

South Carolina
STUDENT: Jeffrey Paul Schwindaman
INSTITUTION: College of Charleston
POSTER TITLE: Sorption and Transport of a Common Anti-bacterial Agent, Triclosan, in Soils
DIVISION: Geosciences
FUNDING: College of Charleston Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities department

ABSTRACT: Pharmaceutical and active ingredients in personal care products are some of the most ubiquitous compounds found in surface water across the world. Triclosan (5-chloro-2-(2,4-dichlorophenoxy)phenol), used as an antibacterial agent in many hand soaps, toothpastes, textiles, and even toys, is one of the most common of these compounds detected in surface waters. Recent studies have linked this compound to endocrine-disrupting activity in mammals and aquatic life. After it is discharged into surface water as wastewater effluent, little is known about the fate of triclosan in the environment. Because it is relatively nonpolar (log Kow = 4.76) and highly insoluble in water, triclosan tends to accumulate in soils, sediments, and very importantly, in lipid tissues of organisms that come in contact with it. The main goal of this study is to quantify how strongly triclosan is absorbed onto soils and sediments as a function of soil and sediment composition (organic carbon content, clay mineral content, etc). Batch sorption and column experiments were conducted using soils from Southeastern U.S. Strong adsorption of triclosan was found in soils rich in organic matter, whereas triclosan did not adsorb as strongly to soils with high clay mineral content. Additionally, triclosan was retained strongly in glass columns packed with organic rich soils. These results indicate that triclosan has the potential to accumulate in stream and estuarine sediment.

Workshop at 2011 AAG

Workshop held at the 2011 Association of American Geographers conference in Seattle, Washington.

How to Establish and Sustain an Undergraduate Research Program

Tuesday, April 12, 8:00am - 12:00 noon
Instructor: Dale Splinter, University of Wisconsin, Whitewater, Ed Hansen, Hope College
Organizer: Laura Guertin, Penn State Brandywine, Deanna van Dijk, Calvin College
Workshop Capacity: 20
Cost/person: $10 (includes coffee and pastries)
Room: Admiral

This workshop is focused on developing a successful research program involving undergraduate participants and on inquiry-based courses and teaching practices that are effective in preparing students to pursue research. The course is designed to serve the needs of early-career faculty and others considering academic careers. The workshop facilitators are all current officers in the Council on Undergraduate Research who have extensive experience in working successfully with undergraduate students in their research enterprises.

Undergraduate researchers - this announcement is for you!

The House of Representatives has declared the week of April 11, 2011, as Undergraduate Research Week! The Council on Undergraduate Research is hosting several seminars and activities during the week. The Geoscience Division of CUR, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, is also going to join in the celebration by hosting a virtual conversation with social media!

From Monday, April 11, through Friday, April 15, we are asking undergraduate students engaged in geoscience/geography research to tweet about their work via Twitter!  Twitter allows a user to post in 140 characters or less a description about... well, anything! We would like students to tweet about their research topic, their joys/frustration of their work, meeting with faculty mentors, etc. Tweet about how excited you are about just starting your research, or how you want to pull your hair out as you finish your senior thesis.

No Twitter account? Not to worry! You can ask your college/university to tweet on your behalf from the school's account. Or you can complete the form below, and we'll post your tweet on our GeoCUR Twitter page. We request that all tweets end with the hashtag #geocur11 so we can pull all the tweets together for display. If you want to include a URL in your tweet back to your department website or to an article about your work, we recommend using http://bit.ly to shorten your URL for the tweet.

Here are some sample tweets:

I've finally figured out how to plot this stable isotope data in Excel! Watch out Florida reefs, I'll figure out your history yet! #geocur11

Presenting my lake research @Middlebury student symposium this week - first time giving a poster! Wish me luck! #geocur11

Just finished a meeting with Dr. Z to plan my summer fieldwork on the Delaware coastline - Cape Henlopen and human impacts. #geocur11

@PSUBrandywine Mapping w/GPS and Google Earth at Tyler Arboretum: http://bit.ly/dSWiUw #geocur11

Defending my senior thesis on structural features in Glacier National Park in 9 days! Advice to others - START WRITING EARLY!  #geocur11

Check out how I'm using Google Earth to help high school teachers get students engaged with nonfiction books! http://bit.ly/5RLjmv #geocur11

Again, please use the hashtag #geocur11 and tweet about ANYTHING relating to your undergraduate research experience!  Let's have a national (even international!) conversation by undergraduates during this week of celebration.  You may tweet more than once.

Questions?  Please contact us at guertin@psu.edu


CUR sponsored technical sessions and a workshop at GSA in Denver, October/November 2010.

Technical sessions

T38. International Research Experiences for Undergraduates (Posters)
Council on Undergraduate Research; National Association of Geoscience Teachers
Edward Hansen, Jeff Marshall
This session will highlight examples of international research involving undergraduate students. Emphasis will be on the process of setting up and carrying out these projects, including benefits and drawbacks, what works and what doesn't.

T48. Teacher Research and Instruction Abroad: A Pathway to Improved Geoscience Education
National Association of Geoscience Teachers; Council on Undergraduate Research; GSA Geoscience Education Division
Jacquelyn E. Hams, Janis D. Treworgy, Kate S. Pound
Have you participated in travel abroad experiences as a geoscience educator? This session will highlight teacher-research experiences, learning communities, and other travel abroad programs. Come share your experiences, activities, and lesson plans that you have developed.

T50. Undergraduate Student Research with Solitary Geoscience Faculty
National Association of Geoscience Teachers; GSA Geoscience Education Division; Council on Undergraduate Research
Janis D. Treworgy, Laura A. Guertin, Suzanne M. Smaglik
Have you, as a solitary geoscience faculty member, figured out how to involve your students in research? Come share both your successes and perceived failures to help others develop their own research programs.


511. Establishing and Sustaining an Undergraduate Research Program: A Professional Development Workshop for New and Future Faculty.
Sat., 30 Oct., 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Fee: US$50; includes continental breakfast and lunch. Limit: 30. CEU: 0.9.
Cosponsor: Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR).
Lydia Fox, University of the Pacific; Laura Guertin, Penn State-Brandywine; Ed Hansen, Hope College.
Abstract: This workshop is for faculty and postdoctoral scientists/graduate students. Topics in the morning will focus on establishing a research program with undergraduates (integrating research practices into the classroom, effective approaches to mentoring undergraduate researchers, identifying funding sources). Topics in the afternoon will focus on sustaining an undergraduate research program (maintaining research continuity and productivity, recruiting and mentoring researchers, balancing teaching and research, funding). Based on the demographics of our participants, we may also include information on how to get a job at an academic institution (primarily undergraduate). Participants may join for either half of the workshop or for the full day.

CUR held their 13th biennial conference at Weber State University, UT, June 19-22, 2010.  Several sessions were presented with a geoscience focus and by Geoscience Division members.  A sample of the talks and posters are listed below.

Thirteen posters, five talks, and one panel were presented by undergraduate students and faculty in the CUR-sponsored session titled "Faculty and Student Perspectives on Undergraduate Research: Models, Challenges, and Best Practices" at the combined Northeastern/Southeastern Section meeting of the Geological Society of America.  The session was held on Sunday, March 14, 2010, in Baltimore, Maryland.
Fifty-eight posters were presented by undergraduate students in the CUR-sponsored undergraduate research session at the combined North-Central/South-Central Section meeting of the Geological Society of America.  The session was held on Monday, April 12, 2010, in Branson, Missouri.

Fifteen posters were presented by undergraduate students in the CUR-sponsored undergraduate research session at the Rocky Mountain Section meeting of the Geological Society of America.  The session was held on Thursday, April 22, 2010, in Rapid City, South Dakota.
Thirty-three posters were presented by undergraduate students in the CUR-sponsored undergraduate research session at the Cordilleran Section meeting of the Geological Society of America.  The meeting was held jointly with the Pacific Section of AAPG.  The session was held on Thursday, May 27, 2010, in Anaheim, California.

2010 Posters on the Hill

The following posters represented the geosciences and geography at Posters on the Hill, April 13, 2010.



ABSTRACT: Polar ecosystems respond quickly to environmental changes, and as a result, are on the front lines of global climate change. Understanding how marine ecosystems respond to seasonal changes in polar regions is crucial for assessments of ecological responses to environmental changes of the past, present, and future. Foraminifera (marine organisms) are particularly sensitive indicators of past and present environmental change , and to better understand the impacts of seasonal changes, the SEASONS Project (Seasonal Ecological Analysis of Seafloor Organic Nutrient Supplies) examined sediment core samples collected across food availability gradients off the coast of the western Antarctic Peninsula in April 2008 (following a surface productivity bloom) and July 2008 (low surface productivity). Distribution patterns of Rose Bengal stained benthic foraminifera were determined from core samples taken in water depths of approximately 600-1200m. Dominant species found in this region included: Pullenia bulloides, Astrononion echolsi, and Bolivina psuedopunctata. Differences in assemblage characteristics and distribution patterns appear to be related to changes in organic input over space and time. Information about the responses of foraminifera to seasonal changes yields critical base line data for seafloor biodiversity and the impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems in the Antarctic. This study provides the first census of living Antarctic foraminifera on these timescales in this region, and generates modern analogs for reconstructions of environmental variability in the past based on fossil foraminifera. This information is important for predictions of ecological impacts of future environmental changes, including those affecting seasonality and food availability in the Antarctic.



ABSTRACT: As technology advances, students have access to an ever-growing library of resources to enhance their learning. Young students, however, may not choose to read nonfiction, Earth science-based books during their free time. With the help of Google Earth, a new method of learning called the Google Earth QUEST (Questioning and Understanding Earth Science Themes) brings visualization, technology, and relevant scientific content into the classroom. Inspired by the award-winning Google Lit Trips and the National Science Foundation-funded TESSE (Transforming Earth Systems Science Education) Workshop for pre-service and in-service 6-12 teachers, the Google Earth QUEST was formed to bring the content of nonfiction books into TESSE participants' classrooms.  Teachers struggled with communicating the knowledge they gained from the workshop's common read, The Control of Nature by John McPhee, to their students in a fresh and meaningful way. One public showing of the QUEST for The Control of Nature to the workshop's participants has provided great feedback, unanimous praise, and a desire for more. Immediately, several teachers requested Google Earth QUESTs for Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations, by David Montgomery, and Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change, by Elizabeth Kolbert. A Google Earth QUEST not only summarizes important content for students, but pairs technology and a visual experience with science literacy. Google Earth QUESTs are satiating a hunger for innovative ways to teach; with Google Earth's easy, free access, a QUEST has the ability to bring science literacy to a worldwide demographic.



ABSTRACT: In September 2008 Hurricane Ike's 12-13 ft storm surge damaged over 75% of the structures behind the Galveston Island Seawall, displacing thousands of residents, including all faculty, staff and students of Texas A&M University at Galveston. However, the surge also left exceptionally well-preserved flood lines on buildings throughout the city providing a unique opportunity to assess FEMA's Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM), specifically the placement of the 500/100yr flood zone boundary. For a home located in the 500yr flood zone, insurance is optional and relatively inexpensive ($200-300/yr). Whereas, a home located in the 100yr flood zone, insurance is required and relatively expensive (>$1,300/yr). A combination of differential GPS and laser leveling were used to establish precise vertical elevations of the flood line throughout the city. This data was integrated with the NOAA digital elevation model (DEM) for Galveston, and the USGS' real-time pressure sensors deployed near the island prior to hurricane landfall. Results show that the preserved flood lines accurately recorded the height of the surge and that the FEMA 500/100yr flood line was accurately placed throughout most of the city. However, projections of global sea-level rise over the next 30 years will require moving this line from the nominal 9 ft contour to the present-day 10 ft contour. Examination of the city tax assessor records show that moving this line will place an additional 2000-3000 homes within the 100yr flood zone, thus increasing Galveston Island flood insurance payments by over 1 million dollars annually.


ABSTRACT: Worldwide flood basalt formations are considered promising targets for permanent CO2 capture and storage. The evaluation of flood basalts for extensive geologic sequestration requires focused, small-scale studies to assess the porosity and permeability characteristics of basalt flows as well as these flows' potential to react with and trap CO2 within new, stable carbonate minerals. More than 14 laterally-continuous, well-exposed 22 million year old basalt flows in the Black Gap (BG) volcanic field, east of Big Bend National Park (BBNP) in west Texas, are ideal for this type of study. Based on detailed field analysis of vesiculation patterns in the 2 - 6 meter thick BG flows, storage of CO2 would occur in the porous, highly permeable, upper vesicular zone, which makes up 40-70% of the total flow thickness. The middle dense zone, with low permeability and porosity, would function as a cap between flows and limit CO2 movement, allowing time for mineralization to occur., These distinct vesiculation patterns and other field evidence were used in my study to conclude that the dominant emplacement mechanism for these flows was inflation, also common in flood basalt formations. Another important aspect of my research was geochemical analysis of the BG flows. Based on collected data, I concluded that BG lavas are geochemically distinct from older rocks exposed in BBNP, suggesting the flows were derived from a different mantle source. Further geochemical
research on BG basalt flows could constrain the possible in-situ carbonate mineralization rates in crystalline silicates, which would permanently stabilize dissolved CO2.

Councilor - Anne Egger

Anne Egger is at Central Washington University.  She is an Assistant Professor of Geological Sciences and Science Education. She began serving as a councilor in 2010.

Contact information:
     Email:  annegger@geology.cwu.edu

Councilor - Chris Kim

Chris Kim Chris Kim is an associate professor of earth and environmental sciences at Chapman University.  He has been a GeoCUR councilor since 2010 and a member of CUR since 2007.  Chris is also the recipient of an NSF-CAREER Award (#0847811) and was selected as a Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award recipient "based on accomplishment in scholarly research with undergraduates, as well as a compelling commitment to teaching."

"I embark on scholarly research that is informed by my past training while expanding in new and exciting directions, establishing focused expertise in heavy metal contamination at abandoned mine sites and the ability of nanoparticulate iron (hydr)oxides to adsorb and retain such heavy metals.  This work is conducted with the participation of Chapman undergraduates who are involved in every aspect of the research, from designing experiments, collecting samples, conducting analyses, and processing data to preparing results for presentation and publication.  Such an approach provides my research students with lasting experiences that benefit their future careers or educational ambitions while allowing me to sustain a level of scholarly productivity that maintains my prominence and relevance in the field of environmental geochemistry."

Contact information:
    Email:  cskim@chapman.edu
    Website:  http://www.chapman.edu/envgeo

Councilor - Amy Weislogel

Amy Weislogel is at West Virginia University.  She began serving as a councilor in 2010.

"Involving undergraduates in research is not a mandate for my position but I've become increasingly convinced that it lies at the heart of the greater objectives in higher education. Research experiences gained in my undergraduate career had a profound impact on my intellectual development, not only as a scientist but as an engaged and productive citizen."

Contact information:
     Email:  amy.weislogel@gmail.com