This project is funded from the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Sites program in the SBE Directorate. It has both scientific and societal benefits in addition to integrating research and education. The Beyond Basic Science REU program will immerse participants in the transdisciplinary science being done at the Earth Institute (EI) of Columbia University. Our overarching goals include: 1) enhancing participant interest and experience in participatory action research in climate science, 2) building confidence and competence in research, 3) gaining fluency and insights into scientific processes and practices, 4) connecting participants to layered mentoring structures, and 5) providing learners with opportunities for engagement with stakeholders on real-world challenges. This project will embed participants in the scientific process and provide them with a window into research in individual and team settings. In these experiences, participants will have the latitude that is appropriate to their level of understanding in order to gain comfort with the research process. The core foundations of each research project are grounded in basic science that will introduce participants to the scientific process. Additionally, all projects will have a strong practice and participatory aspect that involves a range of partners, which will introduce participants to how mentors design and conduct their research in order to develop shared knowledge that is practical and can be used by stakeholders in decision and policy-making processes.

This 3-year project will involve 10-week research experiences annually that will embed students and educators in the process and application of transdisciplinary science. The Beyond Basic Science REU program demonstrates a powerful strategy for how organizations such as the Earth Institute can transform the relationship between science and the public, by ensuring that the knowledge we produce through our research is jointly created, shared, and disseminated in a way that has meaningful impacts on the people and communities that climate change is going to impact the most. The Beyond Basic Science REU site will provide opportunities for undergraduate students and educators in transdisciplinary research rooted in climate science and participatory action. The activities proposed in this project are strategically aligned with NSF’s goals of broader impacts and supports a diverse group of participants in immersive research experiences. The project framework supports participants to engage in team learning around a meaningful project, participate in professional development activities beyond direct research, and build learning and professional relationships through layered mentoring in a world-renowned research environment. The pool of students targeted by this program (i.e., community colleges and state schools) are substantially more likely to be first generation college students and to identify as underrepresented minorities in STEM. The project will likewise produce a cohort of scientists and educators trained in participatory research approaches to science that integrate basic research methods with meaningful stakeholder participation. Our REU site has an opportunity to demonstrate that research programs grounded in evidence-based practices that provide strong educational and professional infrastructures for learners have an important role to play in bringing diversity into our research communities and promoting inclusive excellence.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
SBE Office of Multidisciplinary Activities (SMA)
Standard Grant (Standard)
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Josie S. Welkom
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Columbia University
New York
United States
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