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NC State University Aims to Increase Diversity in Geosciences

A new initiative from North Carolina State University will address the need for increased awareness of, and participation in, geosciences fields from traditionally underrepresented groups.

NC State has received a five-year, $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation to increase diversity in geoscience fields such as geology, marine science and atmospheric sciences. The grant will fund a partnership between NC State and Wake Technical Community College, which has a large geology program and an agreement that allows its students to transfer to NC State and complete a four-year degree.

Dr. John Fountain, professor of marine, earth and atmospheric sciences; Dr. Jose Picart, special assistant to the provost for outreach and engagement; and Dr. Dave Shafer, assistant dean of the graduate school, will lead the project, which will focus on those Wake Tech students from underrepresented groups who are enrolled in geology courses or are participating in the Wake Tech honors program.

Identified students will be offered extra research experiences at NC State, as well as enhanced educational support and mentoring, in hopes they will continue as geoscience majors and find employment in those fields.

“The geosciences offer a variety of options for anyone interested in pursuing scientific research, as well as job opportunities in areas where scientists are currently in high demand, such as climate and alternative energy research,” Fountain says. “We hope that when students see what’s available to them in the geosciences they will choose to pursue this path.”

“This is also an excellent way to open up the field of science as a career path to populations that traditionally may be unaware of this option,” Picart adds. “It’s truly a mutually beneficial relationship – providing a stream of excited new scientists with opportunities for discovery and ensuring that the geosciences will continue to thrive.”