higher education

AGI Launches GRANDE Study of Geoscience Program Adaptation to Natural Disruptive Events

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) invites participation in its new GRANDE (Geoscience Program Adaptation to Natural Disruptive Events) study. This multi-year initiative seeks to identify established best practices for geoscience academic departments relative to disruptive natural events. Focusing on preparedness, response, and recovery strategies, GRANDE addresses the impacts of natural disasters — such as hurricanes, wildfires, and floods — on operations, teaching, and research in the geosciences.

Learn About the AAAS Congressional Science Fellowship: Info Session Hosted by AGI, GSA, AGU's Current Fellows

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

This webinar provides information for geoscientists interested in the AAAS Congressional Science Fellowship Program. The fellowship represents a unique opportunity to make practical contributions of geoscientific knowledge on issues relating to the environment, resources, natural hazards, and federal science policy. A panel of the current AGI, GSA, and AGU Congressional Fellows will discuss their experiences in the program and provide a primer for interested applicants.

About our speakers

  • Sarah Alexander, Ph.D., American Geophysical Union Congressional Science Fellow
  • Amanda L. Labrado, Ph.D., Geological Society of America USGS Congressional Science Fellow
  • Laura Szymanski, Ph.D., American Geological Institute Congressional Science & Engineering Fellow 

Geoscience Research in National Parks: A Welcome and a How-to

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

What comes to mind when you think of national parks? Geysers? Canyons? Family vacations? If you’re like most of us, those are the images that you most often associate with parks. But how about research opportunities? Parks feature diverse natural systems, long publication records, extensive databases and maps, well-documented management histories, professional communicators, and opportunities to make science come to life for millions of visitors. In short, national parks are ideal for scientific research.

The National Park Service (NPS) welcomes the scientific community – including graduate students – to conduct research in over 400 national park units. As evidence of that welcome, the NPS issues about 3,000 research permits to scientists every year. Those scientists come from a wide range of institutions like government agencies, universities, museums, and research institutes.

This webinar provides an introduction and practical “how-to” information for geoscientists who wonder about conducting research in parks. Presenters include NPS science program leaders, the research coordinator at Grand Canyon National Park, and a University of New Mexico geologist who has conducted research in Grand Canyon for much of his career. Topics include general policy that fosters and governs research, geoscience priorities and needs, NPS programs that help outside researchers do science, internship and fellowship opportunities for students, and extensive “insider views” on doing research in parks and building effective relationships. Attendees will learn about the business of science in parks – something never reported in media or popular outlets – and hopefully be inspired to build research programs in America’s public lands “crown jewels.”

View the next video in this webinar

About our speakers

  • Karl Karlstrom, Distinguished Professor of Geology, University of New Mexico  YouTube download iconVideo
  • Ronda Newton, Research Coordinator, Grand Canyon National Park  YouTube download iconVideo
  • Harold Pranger, Branch Manager - Geologic Resources Division, National Park Service  YouTube download iconVideo
  • Timothy Watkins, Science Access & Engagement Coordinator, National Park Service  YouTube download iconVideo

Additional resources

Thank you to our media partners:

Additional Questions & Answers from the webinar

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Is there any funded postdoc?
No, there are no standing funded NPS postdoctoral positions in geosciences.

Are there parallel challenges in parks and in research universities for how they manage interdisciplinarity?
For sure there are! Both Parks and Universities are set up with specific "Divisions" or "Departments" and it seems to depend on the specific people involved the extent to which interdisciplinary collaborations are fostered. But, I'd say there is wide and sometimes formal recognition that there are many benefits if the "siloes" can be bridged. My recommendation is for Parks, scientists, and students to try to develop collaborative networks to promote interdisciplinarity. The challenges can be met with good communication, creative ideas, (and tenacity) and it usually boils down to getting people together to discuss shared goals.

What types of careers are there for geoscientists (with PhDs) in the NPS?
There are about 10 central office ‘geologists,’ many with PhD’s, who generally manage national programs such as Terrestrial Active Processes and Hazards, Coastal Active Processes and Hazards, Paleontology, and Cave and Karst. There are also supervisory geologists – branch and division – but little ‘geology’ and more admin is done. There are a few regional geologists who tend to manage all regional affairs on all geoscience topics. Finally, there are 2-3 dozen or so park-based geologists, some being generalists, and some having specialties, like coastal, geologic hazards, paleo, or cave & karst. Some have PhD’s, and some not. There are also a number of hydrology and general physical science positions similar to all of those mentioned above, and many have a geologic angle to them. These positions are all mostly highly sought after. They get filled only very infrequently and with great competition.

Any new planning for paleo specimen repositories?
This is in discussion with staff at PEFO regarding either setting up the Utah Museum of Natural History or another institution to assist with fossil collections from NPS areas in Utah. There are fossil collections from several NPS areas in Utah that the Utah Geological Survey wants to find a home for.

For research that involves collecting fossil material, how is a repository for the materials determined?
This generally needs to be determined during the time a research and collecting permit is being developed. Some parks want the specimens to eventually be sent back to the park (YELL, GRCA), whereas some parks do not have the capacity to maintain collections in park and do not have a park curator - so an alternative scenario should be determined at the time the research permit is being submitted. NPS lost some of our park curators in Utah, and they have not been replaced.

Is there a procedure for being a designated repository for fossil specimens?
Yes - The NPS needs to refill a position once held that focused almost exclusively on developing repository agreements with museums & institutions, and without this position being filled it will continue to cause a backlog of specimens and out-of-date repository agreements. UNM is an approved repository, but for our ongoing collaborative NSF-funded project on the Tonto Group, the present plan is that we will curate specimens at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (one of the collaborating institutions) during the 3-5 years of the active research. After that, samples may find a permanent home at the Smithsonian Institute and/or Grand Canyon collections. The Eddie McKee and Ressor collections are mostly at the Smithsonian so combining the 1940s and 2020s collections has scientific merit. Denver Museum (James Hagadorn) is in the forefront of modern curation approaches and we want to ensure that the curation meets modern standards for electronic and physical access.

What is the best route to go in order to gain experience in research?
Start by doing it (research that is). 1) Read published literature about research that has been done on your interest and similar topics, 2) Through literature and web (e.g. IRMA), get to know who is actively researching your interest and similar topics (at which Parks), 3) Try to spot the needed next research steps such as: more or updated analyses, better maps, interdisciplinary approaches, etc. that build on past and ongoing research. 4) Write up a proposal draft (any level-- science class, undergrad, graduate level, post-doc, faculty, citizen science, etc) that shows how your ideas for new directions can build on what has been and is being done. 5) Start the research on a shoestring if needed and get communication going with potential collaborators as you seek support from Park science offices or other partners and funding agencies. 6) Stick with it.

Is there a specific process/application form for conducting consumptive analysis?
In terms of analyses, even consumptive analyses that destroy all or most of the sample need to have a legacy. For example, the metadata will include: when and where collected, and goals of the analyses, as well as results. For our work in Grand Canyon, even if we intend to grind up and powder a rock, we curate a representative small sample, for example for some future time when a next researcher wants to try to apply a new technique. We outline this approach in our research and Collecting permit application.

I met a researcher working with coprolite material from the canyon is there a way to find her research?
For coprolites, use Google scholar and search for "Coprolites of grand canyon"-- these fossils generally are discussed along with other fossils of a given age. For the Quaternary, try to Google Jim Mead's publications on pack rat middens for example.

Tools and Strategies for Finding Programmatic Strengths and Weaknesses

Friday, October 9, 2020

Are you looking for ways to improve your undergraduate geoscience program? What tools and strategies can you use to identify where your program is succeeding and where it needs your attention? At many institutions of higher education, program assessment and review is required, and can be seen as a chore or busywork. But the data that goes into a program assessment can give you insight into your students, highlight your strengths and successes, and help focus your efforts to improve. In this webinar, we will approach the idea of program assessment starting with skills and concepts that are important to the geosciences, and consider the ways you can make use of community resources in program assessments that both help strengthen your program and meet the requirements of your institution. This webinar is designed for any department chair, program director, assessment coordinator, or instructor who is interested in collecting and using data to guide decisions about program improvements.

The webinar panelists are:

  • Karen Viskupic, Assistant Professor, Department of Geoscience, Boise State University and President of National Association of Geoscience Teachers
  • Anne Egger, Associate Professor, Geological Sciences and Science Education at Central Washington University and the Executive Director of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers

Additional Resources

pdf download icon Download the slides from this webinar

Tools and Strategies for Finding Programmatic Strengths and Weaknesses

Federal Grant Proposal Writing 101 for Students

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Our speakers are:

Media Partners

Thank you to our media partners:

Federal Grant Proposal Writing 101: NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

Field Trips for All: Accessibility and Inclusivity for Students with Disabilities

Friday, April 24, 2020

Additional Resources

  • pdf download icon Download the slides from this presentation
  • International Association for Geoscience Diversity website
  • Atchison, C.L., Parker, W.G., Riggs, N.R., Semken, S., and Whitmeyer, S.J., (2019). Accessibility and inclusion in the field: A field guide for central Arizona and Petrified Forest National Park, In Pearthree, P.A., ed., GSA 2019 Phoenix Field Guides: Geological Society of America Field Guide 55, 1–23, DOI: 10.1130/2019.0055(02).
  • Atchison, C. L., Marshall, A.M, & and Collins, T., (2019). A multiple case study of inclusive learning communities enabling active participation in geoscience field courses for students with physical disabilities. Journal of Geoscience Ed. DOI: 10.1080/10899995.2019.1600962.
  • Carabajal, I.G., Marshall, A.M., & Atchison, C.L. (2017).  A synthesis of access and inclusion in geoscience education literature.  Journal of Geoscience Education, 65, 531-541. DOI: 10.5408/16-211.1.
  • Feig, A., Atchison, C.L., Stokes, A., & Gilley, B. (2019). Achieving inclusive field-based education: Results and recommendations from an accessible geoscience field trip. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 19(2), 66-87. DOI: 10.14434/josotl.v19i1.23455.
  • Gilley, B.H., Atchison, C.L., Feig, A. & Stokes, A. (2015).  Impact of inclusive field trips.  Nature Geoscience, 8, 579-580.  DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2500
  • Greene, S., Ashley, K., Dunne, E., Edgar, K., Giles, S., Hanson, E., (2020). Toilet stops in the field: An educational primer and recommended best practices for field-based teaching. DOI: 10.31219/osf.io/gnhj2
  • Hendricks, J.E., Atchison, C.L., & Feig, A.D. (2017). Effective use of personal assistants for students with disabilities: Lessons learned from the 2014 accessible geoscience field trip. Journal of Geoscience Education, 65(1), 72-80.  DOI: 10.5408/16-185.1.
  • Marshall, A & Thatcher, S., (2019). Creating Spaces for Geoscientists with Disabilities to Thrive. Eos, 100, DOI: 10.1029/2019EO136434.
  • Designing Remote Field Experiences webpage



Field Trips for All: Accessibility and Inclusivity for Students with Disabilities

Equity in Graduate Admissions

Friday, March 6, 2020

This webinar and discussion session presents data and research about the role of typical admissions criteria and practices in maintaining racial/ethnic inequalities in graduate education. Suitable for a wide variety of audiences, practical strategies for rethinking typical admissions criteria and processes are introduced, with a focus on equity-based holistic review and embedding attention to equity throughout the admissions and recruitment process. All aspects of this session are rooted in current research. Participants will learn how common admissions mindsets & practices tend to inhibit access for underrepresented groups, and they will be introduced to strategies to improve diversity & equity through holistic review processes.

Our panelists are:

  • Julie Posselt, Associate Professor of higher education in the USC Rossier School of Education. Julie was a 2015-2017 National Academy of Education / Spencer Foundation postdoctoral research fellow.
  • Casey Miller, Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Affairs and Professor in the College of Science at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Both Julie and Casey are part of the leadership team for the Inclusive Graduate Education Network project.

Aligning Geoscience Research Incentives

Friday, February 7, 2020


The Roundtable has launched a working group focused on departmental and disciplinary approaches to open activities. This webinar, led by the coordinators of the working group, will discuss what NASEM has learned about current and prospective plans for increasing the open sharing of research outputs within geoscience departments.  The session will also explore possibilities for coordinated disciplinary action - for example, adopting common language about open activities in job postings, annual reports, and (potentially) tenure & promotion procedures. Finally, the webinar speakers will share thoughts on engaging productively with institutional leadership (e.g., provosts, VPRs) to ensure that departmental policies are aligned with institutional policies.


The two speakers are Greg Tananbaum and Loretta Parham.  Greg Tananbaum is the founder and coordinator of the Open Research Funders Group, a partnership of philanthropies committed to the open sharing of research outputs. Loretta Parham is CEO & Library Director of the Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center, Inc., an independent entity operating as the single library shared by its four member institutions.

Additional Resources


Aligning Geoscience Research Incentives


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