Inside USD

NSF Grant Supports Science Outreach Efforts to Students

Thursday, September 17, 2009

2456aquaticadv2The University of San Diego recently received a $477,000 grant from the National Science Foundation that will, in part, serve underrepresented minority students interested in studying science.

The three-year grant was awarded to Drew Talley, Sarah Gray and Zhi-Yong Yin, professors in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Marine Science and Environmental Studies, and Sandy Buczynski, a professor in the School of Leadership and Education Sciences’ Department of Learning and Teaching. It’s a collaborative grant with Shara Fisler, executive director of the non-profit science organization Ocean Discovery Institute, which aims to enhance earth science education for high school students.

The grant — Ocean Leaders: Developing Diverse Leadership for the Next Generation of Geoscientists — provides key scientific research experiences for underrepresented youth; full-ride scholarships for scientists to attend USD; and funds an annual 24-hour boat trip aboard the RV Gordon Sproul for USD students, high school faculty and ODI staff to have an authentic oceanography research experience.

USD recently received a $900,000 NSF grant from the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship program that will fund scholarships for students — particularly underrepresented minority groups— who are interested in a teaching career in math and science. The university is currently pursuing more grant funding to support students in physics, math, computer science and environmental studies.

Talley (pictured, above center) is closely involved with the Bahia project, part of ODI’s Ocean Leaders youth program, in which students from City Heights-based Hoover High School hone their science skills locally before embarking on a five-week summer research trip to the island town of Bahia de Los Angeles, Mexico.

“The grant enables us to keep doing this work, collecting long-term data that gives us cutting-edge science research and new insight into how these ecosystems work,” Talley said. “These insights are aligned with ecosystems in San Diego, Tijuana River, Mission Bay and the San Francisco Bay Area.”

“It’s a spectacular program to encourage students from underrepresented areas to pursue science education,” said Mary Boyd, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and co-editor of “Broadening Participation in Undergraduate Research: Fostering Excellence and Enhancing the Impact.”

2232aquaticadv1“When I first arrived here in 2008, Drew invited me to ODI’s August presentation on our campus. After hearing about the program and listening to the panel discussions, I was really excited.” ODI, formerly Aquatic Adventures, maintains a strong relationship with USD. Fisler was an adjunct science professor at USD for nine years. Current ODI staff members include USD alumni Travis Kemnitz ‘02, Melissa Katigbak ‘00 and Lindsay Goodwin ‘03.

“A lot of my USD professors, since I graduated, have stayed connected with ODI in some capacity,” said Kemnitz, ODI’s director of student relations. “They’ve offered me assistance whether it’s coming to speak to our students or advising me on programs I’m creating for the students. It’s a good match. They’re a very supportive university.”

Talley, a second-year assistant professor, is appreciative of the grant and its potential impact at USD.”This process has taught me how much USD supports the things that I care so much about,” he said. “They support my research, my outreach, my goal of USD becoming a more diverse place and to have more diverse scientists. This grant shows that the National Science Foundation cares about these same things.”

— Ryan T. Blystone

Read more about the Bahia program in USD Magazine.

  • Share/Bookmark