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Opportunities for Enhancing Diversity in the Geosciences (OEDG)

The OEDG Program began making awards in FY01.


The Opportunities for Enhancing Diversity in the Geosciences (OEDG) program is an initiative undertaken in 2001 by the Directorate for Geosciences to broaden participation in geoscience education and research by traditionally underrepresented groups. An important but secondary goal is to enhance the understanding of the geosciences and their contribution to modern society by a broad and diverse segment of the population. Specific objectives focus on increasing research opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students from underrepresented groups and enhancing infrastructure at institutions that serve minority populations. Collaborations are encouraged between research institutions and minority serving institutions as well as two and four yeer colleges with large minority populations. A fourth element is outreach to precollege students and the public.




Statistical data confirm the underrepresentation of women, African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Native-Americans/Native-Alaskans and persons with disabilities in science and engineering. In the geosciences the problem is especially severe. The OEDG program is a focused effort by the Geosciences Directorate to take a leadership role in promoting and supporting the geoscience research and education community in effective efforts to respond to this challenge.






A 14 member panel was convened May 21-24, 2001 to provide NSF with guidance on the quality of the submitted OEDG proposals. The panelists were chosen for their expertise in geoscience education and their interest and experience in promoting greater participation by underrepresented groups. For each proposal, 3 panelists prepared written evaluations in advance of the panel.

One of the 5 awards made in FY02 was for a proposal (Ratchford) submitted and reviewed by the 2001 panel. A second (Adams) was submitted in August 2001 and reviewed by ad hoc mail review (5 reviewers). A third (Jackson) was submitted to and reviewed by the Geoscience Education panel but funded by OEDG. The final two 2002 actions were supplements to 01 awards with funding decisions handled via program officer review.


    FY01 (n=83):

    • Panel Reviews: 247
    • Mail Reviews Returned: 0
    • Mail Reviews Requested: 0
    • Mail Reviews Conflict: 0
    • Mail Reviews Declined: 0
    • Mail Reviews Late: 0

    FY02 (n=3):

    • Panel Reviews: 6
    • Mail Reviews Returned: 5
    • Mail Reviews Requested: 5
    • Mail Reviews Conflict: 0
    • Mail Reviews Declined: 0
    • Mail Reviews Late: 0






Very Good 











Male: 11 White: 11
Female: 8 Unknown: 4
American Indian or Alaskan: 1 Handicapped: 0
Black or African American: 3  
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander:  New Reviewers: 1


Grant Number: 0138004 (Dawn Adams/Tapestry)

Nugget: No | High Risk: No | Multi-disciplinary: Yes | Innovative: Yes

This award provided support for an innovative workshop (Stories from the Circle: Science and Native Wisdom) to examine aspects of contemporary science from a Native cultural perspective. Two key messages were: 1) Native people can contribute to science without losing their culture and 2) The dominant culture can learn another way of looking at the world that can help solve serious modern problems.

The workshop incorporated diverse ways of knowing and learning (e.g., art, music, dreams, observation, analysis) into planned activities. A videographer recorded workshop events and an art exhibition was part of the workshop framework. A book, educational website and a traveling museum exhibition are under development. Of the approximately 90 workshop attendees, 52% were Native American and 80% of the 32 workshop speakers were Native as well. Non-Native participants were faculty at Dine College (20%) with the rest individuals who work with Native persons in science or science education.


Grant Number: 0119962 (Kovacs/Hampton University)

Nugget: No | High Risk: No | Multi-disciplinary: Yes | Innovative: Yes

This project is a good example of the impact that NSF support can have on enhancing and improving geoscience-related programs at a relatively well-funded and academically focused HBCU (Historically Black College or University). At Hampton, OEDG funding has supported the development of a new undergraduate geoscience program, student and faculty training and research in meteorology, and the design of a minor curriculum in Space, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. The minor (approved for the 2003-2004 academic year) will make HU one of the few HBCUs to offer a minor in any of the geosciences. One of the program's new lower division courses 'Introduction to Geophysical Science' is expected to enroll 200-300 students each semester and to expose a large pool of HU students to the geosciences early in their college careers. The OEDG award also supports an important 'bridging' program to reach out to middle and high school students from urban schools in the region (and their teachers). Activities successfully offered in 2002 include a middle school camp (14 students), a middle school science club (30 students), a teacher workshop (15 middle school teachers), a high school mentorship program (8 students) and a weather website.

Nugget language: Increasing diversity in the Geosciences: A Bridging Program from Middle School to College

Increasing diversity in the geosciences requires a multi-faceted program that offers enrichment opportunities for students throughout their educational process. This project develops a pathway from middle school to college that expands the pipeline of diverse students entering advanced education and careers in the geosciences. Hampton University, an HBCU, has developed a summer day camp for 20 middle school students, and a mentoring program for eight area high school students. In two groups of four, these students solve atmospheric science problems, from formulation of an hypothesis to a solution.

In order to fill the need for geoscience curriculum materials at the high school level the program has established a geosciences professional development workshop that will allow fourteen teachers from the region to engage in geoscience curriculum development activities that they carry back to their schools with them. Teachers test their activities with the help of students attending the middle school summer day camp. They also carry back to their classrooms sun photometers that allow them to take readings from their schools. These data are distributed nationally through the GLOBE website.


Grant Number: 0120012 (Kate Miller/University of Texas at El Paso)

Nugget: No | High Risk: Yes| Multi-disciplinary: No | Innovative: No

The PIs of this project seek to expand the number of Hispanic students who major in Geological Sciences or Environmental Sciences at the University of Texas El Paso. Two mechanisms have been put in place to reach this goal. One is an REU-like program for undergraduate majors that provides stipends and opportunities to participate in research with geoscience faculty and graduate students. In 2002-2003, 21 students (10 Hispanic students; 2 foreign students and 9 others) participated. The second is an innovative outreach program for high school juniors and their teachers. The centerpiece of this component is a two-week summer camp to introduce participants to a variety of concepts and research topics in the geosciences. This program is a creative mixture of field trips and laboratory experiences. 15 students and 3 teachers participated in 2002 with 6 teachers and their students expected for 2003.

Demand for both programs has been very strong with 5 times as many applicants as available places. Although this project could be viewed as more risky than normal because the PIs are faculty members with a strong research focus and relatively little experience in education and outreach, the pilot phase of the program appears to been remarkably successful (as reflected by participant feedback). In the area of evaluation, the PIs have been frustrated by the difficulty of measuring whether or not the program is increasing the liklihood of participants eventually becoming geoscientist. The PIs are currently working with the AIR evaluation team on more informative and realistic evaluation instruments.


Grant Number:

Nugget: Yes/No | High Risk: Yes/ No | Multi-disciplinary: Yes/No | Innovative: Yes/No

None submitted by program


Grant Number: 0119864 (Luis Haro/SACNAS)

Nugget: No | High Risk: No | Multi-disciplinary: No | Innovative: Yes

Hispanic-Americans are expected to be the largest segment of the impending 'underrepresented majority' in the United States as the nation moves into the 21st Century. This OEDG award underwrites the efforts of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) to add a geosciences dimension to its annual conference and other society activities. The award recognizes the key role that professional societies can play in helping the nation recruit and retain talented minority individuals in the sciences. This specific investment has led to very impressive increases in the number of minority individuals (students, scientists, faculty, K-12 educators) attending the 2001 and 2002 Annual Conferences of SACNAS (Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science).

In 2002, the grant funded two symposia: Advances in Ecological, Marine and Atmospheric Sciences and Advances in Earth Science. Minority geoscientists supported by the award also spoke in other professional development and career advancement sessions, served as mentors for students and judged student posters and presentations. Of the 51 NSF supported students with an interest in the geosciences, 27 presented their research at the conference with 3 receiving awards for outstanding presentations. At the 2003 conference, NSF-funds supported 126 participants and 3 days of intensive educational and career development sessions. 53 of the 354 students who presented posters were NSF supported participants in the geosciences.

Additional activities underwritten by this award are the hiring of a program manager to manage the continuing geoscience initiative, the expansion of the SACNAS database effort to recruit and track geoscience students and an evaluation component to assess the effectiveness of these efforts. The AIR group has provided guidance to help clarify the Society's needs and select an appropriate high-quality evaluator.


Grant Number:

Nugget: - | High Risk: - | Multi-disciplinary: - | Innovative: Yes

This outreach project based at San Francisco State University engages both undergraduates and high school students from underrepresented minority groups in activities and projects focused on 3 watersheds in southeast San Francisco. Students and faculty are working together to collect samples of soil, water, rock and air and to study how weather, climate and the geological setting affect the regional environment. The project uses standard tools such as rain gauges to track rainfall associated with winter storms and modern technologies such as GIS to create interactive maps of the region and to identify and monitor watershed characteristics and environmental hazards. In two years the project has expanded from 1 pilot school to 4 high schools with 9 teachers in leadership roles. At one school more than 400 ethnically diverse 9th grade students have been engaged in a variety of SF-Rocks active learning modules.

Projects such as this one are important because they expose a diverse population to the importance of watersheds as well as the role that geoscientists can play in helping the nation protect and manage important natural resources.


Number of Proposal Actions
Program began making awards in FY01.

    FY01 (n=84):

    • Awards: 15
    • Declines: 68
    • Withdrawals: 1
    • Project Closings: 0

    FY02 (n=20):

    • Awards: 5
    • Declines: 0
    • Continuing: 15
    • Project Closings: 1

Award Size and Duration

    FY01 (n=15)

    • Award Size: $170,708
    • Duration: 3.3 years
    • Minority involvement: 7
    • New Involvement: 12
    • Women involvement: 9

    FY02 (n=3)

    • Award Size: $67,301
    • Duration: 2.0 years
    • Minority involvement: 2
    • New Involvement: 1
    • Women involvement: 1

Dwell Time

    FY01: (n=83)

    • Average Dwell Time (months): 5.47 (S. Dev. = 0.68)
    • Zero - 6 mos.: 94%
    • >6 - 9 mos.: 6%
    • >9 - 12 mos.: 0%
    • >12 mos.: 0%

    FY02: (n=3)

    • Average Dwell Time (months): 5.56 (S. Dev. = 1.47)
    • Zero - 6 mos.: 67%
    • >6 - 9 mos.: 33%
    • >9 - 12 mos.: 0%
    • >12 mos.: 0%
    2002 2001
Overall  Competitive Proposal Actions  83 
Competitive Awards  15 
Funding Rate  100%  18% 
Minority Involvement  Competitive Proposal Actions  41 
Competitive Awards 
Funding Rate  100%  17% 
New Involvement  Competitive Proposal Actions  60 
Competitive Awards  12 
Funding Rate  100%  20% 
Women Involvement  Competitive Proposal Actions  38 
Competitive Awards 
Funding Rate  100%  24% 

    EPSCoR States

    • Awards: 2
    • Declines: 14
    • Other: 1


Future program actions should include forging a closer working relationship between NSF/GEO and the AIR evaluation team as well as possible program site visits. Now that the first cohort of awards are entering their final year it is important to review accomplishments in terms of the strategies set forth in NSF 01-53 (Strategy for Developing a Program for Opportunities for Enhancing Diversity in the Geosciences) and the subsequent Program Announcement.

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