In order to address the critical need for Earth and environmental science professionals within Tribal communities, where American Indians remain severely underrepresented in the geosciences, the University of California, Irvine is organizing two-week residential American Indian Summer Institutes in Earth System Science (AISESS) for high-school students (grades 9-12) from throughout the nation. The specific objectives of the AISESS program are: 1) to encourage and empower American Indian high school students to pursue higher education; 2) to increase the number of American Indian students who pursue degrees in or related to the geosciences; 3) to increase retention and graduation rates of American Indian college students in the geosciences; 4) to encourage American Indian college graduates to pursue geoscience careers, in particular those available in Tribal communities; and 5) to enhance public literacy of Earth System Science, especially within American Indian Tribal communities. The first week of the AISESS program is spent camping and conducting field projects on the reservation of the La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians and the second week is spent on the University of California, Irvine campus learning about Earth System Science through lectures, discussions, and laboratory activities. The scientific curriculum is designed by faculty members from the UCI Department of Earth System Science in partnership with the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals at Northern Arizona University, the La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians, and the Acjachemen Nation. The science curriculum is closely woven together with appropriate cultural activities, Native studies, and communication skills coordinated through the UCI American Indian Resource Center. The program culminates with a closing ceremony in which students present poster projects on Earth and environmental science issues that are particularly relevant to Tribal communities. Through key partnerships with the Louis Stokes California Alliance for Minority Participation, the UCI Center for Educational Partnerships, and Santa Ana College, the project is conducting extensive follow-up and mentorship activities that will increase the likelihood of recruitment and retention of Native students to the geosciences.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Directorate for Geosciences (GEO)
Application #
Program Officer
Jill L. Karsten
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of California Irvine
United States
Zip Code