The Climate Change Scholars program is working to increase the number of students completing Bachelor's degree programs at San Francisco State University in fields related to climate change studies, overall, and specifically from underrepresented groups. Climate Change Scholars participate in activities structured around scientific collaboration, academic enrichment, and close mentorship connected to the study of climate change. The Climate Change Scholars are matched with a mentor from the SFSU Climate Change Working Group and participate in a core series of activities intended to build community among the Climate Change Scholars; these mentors help to connect the Scholars to the research world of climate change, with the intent of improving the Scholars' academic success rates. Scholars participate in a variety of required activities that include: frequent contact with and guidance from a faculty mentor; attending a monthly climate change seminar; meeting regularly as a cohort to work on professional development; and, participating in supplemental instruction and tutoring, as appropriate. Scholars are also given special optional opportunities for professional development, such as: living in a science-themed community at SFSU; participating in genuine climate change research and related summer internship experiences; teaching science; and, participating in professional organizations. The SFSU College of Science and Engineering has a rich tradition of supporting meaningful research experiences for undergraduates across all disciplines of science; the Climate Change Scholars will be part of an multidisciplinary group of engaged students and accomplished researchers.

Project Report

(2011- 2014) The Climate Change Scholars Program at San Francisco State University successfully provided opportunities for underrepresented minority students to gain valuable research experience in labs that study climate change. In exchange for participating in 4-8 hours of climate-related research per week, scholars received partial (~$1,500) or full (~$3,000) tuition funding. Almost all departments in the SF State College of Science and Engineering were represented including: Biology, Chemistry & Biochemistry, Earth and Climate Science, Engineering, Environmental Studies, and Geography & Environment. We increased the interest in climate change science across the College of Science and Engineering, by inviting diverse students to participate in our seminars, and requiring that our scholars participate in monthly seminars in other departments. Our scholars also participated in the annual college-wide, highly competitive, Student Project Showcase where several of our climate change scholars won awards each year. The faculty mentors included 16 junior and senior faculty from the College of Science and Engineering, but also included researchers at the SF State Romberg Tiburon Center, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the California Academy of Sciences. Our scholars came from diverse backgrounds and included African-Americans, an American-Indian, Latinos/Latinas, Pacific Islanders, Asian-Americans, and Caucasians. 16 of our scholars were female and 13 were male. We enriched the educational experience of our scholars by providing biweekly seminars on climate change related topics, professional development workshops such as resume building and interview skills, GRE preparation, a graduate school panel, a panel of local government and nonprofit leaders in the Bay Area, and field trips to field research sites. Finally, all of our scholars gained academic and professional development experience by giving campus talks on their research and presenting posters at local and international conferences. A sample of these undergraduate students research topics include: Field Mapping and Genetic Analysis of Human and Climate Influences on Rocky Intertidal Coastal Environments Using the Brooding Seastar; Energy-Efficiency for Industrial and Wastewater Plants; The Healthy Building Network: Developing a Climate Score Framework to Encourage Sustainable Building Materials; Climate Change Impacts on Temperature and Rainfall in the SF Bay Area, 1970-present; The Effects of Climate Change on the Distribution of an Invasive Amphibian Species: Correlating the Potential Distribution of Lithobates catesbeiana to Bd Prevalence in Asia; Observations of Water Vapor, Heat and CO2 Exchanges over a Living Roof using Eddy Covariance; Effects of Elevation Change on Survivorship of Pristimantis Platydactylus Infected by Batrachochytrium Dendrobatidis; Bay Area Lifestyle Responses to Climate Change; Modeling Climate Change Effects on Nonpoint Source Nitrate Contamination Groundwater Aquifer Adjacent to Great Lakes in Wisconsin; The Influence of Climate and Temporal Variability on Ice out Dates in Selected New England Lakes; Methane Production in Anoxic Continental Margin Sediments: Insights from Isotope Profiles of Dissolved Inorganic Carbon; Detecting Climate Signals in Precipitation Records; Dry Deposition Patterns and Short-Term Temperature Effects of Anthropogenic Black Carbon Emissions in Northern California; Storage of Pore Water Dissolved Organic Carbon Samples after Acidification and Purging the Headspace of Oxygen: Implications for Analysis of Carbon Cycling Analysis in Marine Sediments; and Marine Ecosystems off the California Margin in the Pliocene: Circulations and Upwelling Response to Globally Warm Conditions. All students who participated in the SF State Climate Change Scholars Program completed, or is in the process of completing, a bachelor's degree in a field related to climate change research. Overall our scholars engaged in almost 9000 hours of active undergraduate student research on climate change related topics. The climate science-specific knowledge gained by the scholars and the opportunities to critically discuss and evaluate climate change-related topics, in and outside of their major disciplines, lends support to their academic progress and expands their potential career opportunities in science.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Directorate for Geosciences (GEO)
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Jill L. Karsten
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San Francisco State University
San Francisco
United States
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