August 29, 2022
New NSF grant seeks to recruit diverse students to geoscience
A new project at K-State seeks to broaden participation in geoscience by involving community college students in a co-curricular groundwater monitoring program. The project, which is funded for $363,254 by the National Science Foundation, is led by Matthew Kirk in the department of geology, Helene Avocat in the department of geography and geospatial sciences, and three collaborators from Dodge City and Barton community colleges: Amanda Alliband, Monica Cook and Richard Sloan.
Geoscience is the least ethnically and racially diverse of all science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM, fields. This lack of diversity holds back geoscience innovation and threatens the supply of geoscientists available to meet workforce demands in the coming years. Moreover, geoscientists play critical roles in helping solve some of society’s biggest challenges — including challenges related to climate, water and energy — and diverse perspectives are needed to develop equitable solutions to these challenges.
The team will recruit six students per year for the next three years from each partner institution and help the students learn how to sample and analyze groundwater from private wells in south-central Kansas. Along the way, the students will receive transfer advising, career mentoring, career-relevant training and an opportunity to help shed light on potential threats to the health of their communities from contaminated drinking water. By testing and refining this program, the project team aims to create a roadmap for recruiting diverse students from rural communities across the midcontinent.