GP-EXTRA: Connecting Links to Ocean Science and Earth Science Graduate Academic Programs (CLOSES-GAP)

  • Varner, Ruth K. (PI)
  • Ozbay, Gulnihal (CoPI)
  • Crawford, Maurice M. (CoPI)
  • Bryce, Julia J.G. (CoPI)
  • Slater, Lee (CoPI)

Project Details


The Collaborative Links to Ocean Science and Earth Science Graduate Academic Programs (CLOSES-GAP) provides a pathway for undergraduate students at two Historically Black Colleges and Universities and an institution with the highest campus diversity (as identified in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report) to engage in an academic bridge program in the geosciences. According to the NSES 2015 statistics, Hispanics, African Americans, and American Indians or Alaska Natives are disproportionately represented in all STEM fields. The representation in geoscience fields, however, is the lowest of all surveyed disciplines. CLOSES-GAP is a comprehensive partnership between University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Delaware State University and Rutgers University Newark and a research university (University of New Hampshire) to enhance mechanisms to recruit under-represented students into the geosciences. Taken in concert, program elements allow CLOSES-GAP student participants to build skills important for graduate program matriculation and success. Additionally through this project the participating institutions will strengthen collaborative working relationships for engaging together in sustained research and student mentoring activities.

CLOSES-GAP is a comprehensive program consisting of several interconnected components that offer a suite of supports and opportunities. Specifically, students will be recruited during their junior year and receive research training and mentoring during the following summer and throughout their senior year. The organizers will address two major priorities of the GEOPATHS program by 1) offering students in biological oceanography, or other related non-geoscience programs, opportunities to explore research opportunities available in physical oceanography and near-shore geoscience; and 2) providing participants with foundational skills in basic geoscience research and science communication skills. The goal will be to provide CLOSES-GAP fellows with experiences that give insight into the diversity of research options in marine geosciences, and to provide research opportunities that leverage UNH's world-class ocean mapping facilities and personnel, including the residential facility at the Shoals Marine Laboratory, 6 miles off the coast of New Hampshire. Additional mini-courses, facilitated or created by the project team, will coach fellows on research skills, graduate admission and fellowship applications. Students will enter the program in the summer following their junior year, and be supported through the following academic year by pairs of advisors at both their home institution and UNH. Their participation will culminate in presenting their work at a national or regional science conference. Equally important to the summer research camp are the mentoring expertise and comfort that comes with familiarity of the fellows' home institutions. Before and after attending the UNH research camp, participants will complete online mini-courses in basic research skills such as statistical analysis, as well as often overlooked competencies such as data management and academic/research ethics. We will also focus on developing a 'research community' in each participant cohort, highlighting the importance of interdisciplinary research groups in contemporary geosciences and marine sciences. Upon returning to their home institutions after the research camp, the focus will shift to data analysis and communicating their findings to a variety of audiences, in a range of media - from traditional professional conferences and publications to social media. At the core of the program is a holistic approach to participant support that combines unique research opportunities with highly-supportive mentoring at both UNH and their home institution. The CLOSES-GAP program will strengthen an alliance between four institutions and will recruit 30 undergraduates from underrepresented groups to participate in a program focused on preparation for graduate school and, ultimately, careers in the geosciences. Across the alliance, this program will also improve the capacity of geoscience faculty, and their respective departmental and institutional affiliations, to tailor recruitment approaches to non-majority audiences, and to support underrepresented students in successfully applying to graduate programs. In addition to these direct and immediate impacts, the CLOSES-GAP team will disseminate their findings to the larger geoscience community through traditional, academic means (publication and conference presentation), as well as through the creation of guiding resources for future partnerships.

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.

Effective start/end date8/15/187/31/23


  • National Science Foundation: $429,634.00


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