SLCC ‘Rocks It’ With $334K National Science Foundation Geoscience Grant

As the only community college in the most populous portion of Utah, SLCC is an important component of the geoscience pipeline.

Salt Lake Community College received a $334,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) aimed at increasing the number and diversity of geology majors and improving their transfer rates. The grant pays SLCC geology majors, known as “research ambassadors,” to conduct research projects. These ambassadors will use non-science majors from general education classes to assist with their projects, bringing the benefits of undergraduate research to a wider audience. Ambassadors will also receive mentoring from advanced students and faculty members from the University of Utah and Weber State University.

“Engaging students at the community college level in these kinds of activities has the potential to have a substantial impact on the number of students completing STEM degrees at four-year institutions,” said Chris Johnson, SLCC geology assistant professor and principal investigator of the program. “Half of students who complete STEM bachelor degrees start at a community college. As the only community college in the most populous portion of Utah, SLCC is an important component of the geoscience pipeline.”

This three-year grant will support 24 ambassadors who will mentor 48 general education students as they collaborate on projects. Research ambassadors and their student assistants will “learn science by doing science” as they conduct research in the field and collect real data to solve real problems. Participants will develop skills needed for academic and professional success while field sampling and mapping, using technologies such as X-ray fluorescence analyzers, water quality meters, GPS and GIS…

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