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USGS Participates in Another Year of the Woods Hole Partnership Education Program (PEP)

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For the seventh consecutive year, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, continued its collaboration with five other Woods Hole science institutions as part of the Woods Hole Partnership Education Program (PEP). PEP provides internship opportunities for a diverse cohort of undergraduate students seeking experience in the earth and ocean sciences. The other participating Woods Hole institutions include the NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Sea Education Association, the Woods Hole Research Center, and the Marine Biological Laboratory. The University of Maryland Eastern Shore also serves as an educational partner. This year’s program included 16 students from hometowns and colleges spanning the country from Hawaii to Vermont to Florida.

The 2015 PEP student class on the final day of the program
Above: The 2015 PEP student class on the final day of the program. Kent Kuehl, who worked at the USGS Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center, is shown at the lower right with the black tie. Photo: Tom Kleindinst, Tom Kleindinst Photography. [larger version]

To start the summer, students took a month-long, four-credit course in global climate change and oceanography that provided overviews of the major oceanographic disciplines (biological, chemical, coastal and geological, and physical) as well as ecosystem management and policy. Each course topic included field and laboratory demonstrations and exercises that gave students a small taste of the work that scientists do to explore research questions in climate change and oceanography. Concurrently, students began working on independent research projects that were conducted under the guidance of a scientist mentor at one of the six participating Woods Hole institutions. Once the coursework finished, students focused on their research full time for the remaining six weeks of the program. Students also participated in a number of professional development seminars throughout the summer, with topics ranging from public speaking to pursuing graduate school opportunities and early career research funding. The program finished August 7, with a day-long symposium in which each student gave a formal presentation of their summer research findings.

The USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program (CMGP) has been able to contribute to PEP through Ben Gutierrez’ organization of the classroom and professional development portions of the program, and through direct support of a PEP student in each of the two most recent PEP cohorts. This summer, one of the PEP students, Kent Kuehl (California State University, Bakersfield, Geology) worked with Rob Thieler and Emily Himmelstoss to conduct usability tests of the USGS Coastal Change Hazards Portal that serves as an online source of information for USGS coastal hazards and sea-level rise vulnerability work. Kuehl enlisted 12 participants to use the website to complete a specific set of tasks he designed to test the interactive functionality of the website. By evaluating each participant’s work and soliciting feedback regarding site functionality, Kuehl was able to suggest several website improvements, which will be considered during the next round of website development.

Kuehl continued work started by Dion Kucera (Humboldt State University, Environmental Studies), a 2014 PEP student also supported by CMGP. Kucera presented the results of his research at the 2014 Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) National Conference in Los Angeles, California, where he also worked with the USGS team that attended the meeting to advertise PEP and other USGS diversity initiatives. Currently, Kucera is pursuing Masters of Environmental Science at Indiana University.

Dion Kucera at the 2014 SACNAS conference in Los Angeles, California
Above: Dion Kucera at the 2014 SACNAS conference in Los Angeles, California. Photo credit: Onjale Scott. [larger version]

PEP started in 2009 through the effort of the Woods Hole Diversity Initiative which brought together the six Woods Hole science institutions to explore ways to diversify the scientific workforce. It is one of the only Woods Hole programs that includes participation from each Woods Hole science institution. As of August 2015, PEP has graduated 106 students, a number of whom went on to present their PEP research at professional meetings within a year of their internships. Many PEP students are pursuing career and educational opportunities in the sciences. Several students have returned to Woods Hole to explore new topics or continue the research they’d already started with their mentors.

Related Sound Waves Stories
USGS Expands Presence at SACNAS National Conference
Mar. / Apr. 2012
USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program Continues its Presence at the SACNAS National Conference
Jan. / Feb. 2010
USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program is Represented at 2007 SACNAS National Conference
Jan. / Feb. 2008

Related Websites
Woods Hole Partnership Education Program
Coastal Change Hazards Portal
Woods Hole Diversity Initiative
Woods Hole Diversity Advisory Committee
Annual SACNAS National Conference

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in this issue:

cover story:
Sampling Atlantic Margin Methane Seeps and Plumes

USGS Completes Second Expedition for Atlantic Submarine-Landslide Studies

Spotlight on Sandy
“Team Delmarva” Completes Seafloor Mapping off Delmarva Peninsula

Pathways to the Abyss

USGS Residual Oil Research Presented at Two Public Seminars

USGS Hosts USF Oceanography Camp for Girls

USGS Continues Collaboration for Native Youth in Science

USGS Assists in Another Year of Woods Hole Partnership in Education

New Production Team for Sound Waves

Oct. / Nov. Publications

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