On-campus Faculty Sponsor/Research Advisor certification

On-campus Faculty Sponsors/Research Advisor are requested to complete the online Faculty Research Advisor Form before the February 1, 2016 deadline, certifying that they are prepared to sponsor the requesting student for 2016-2017.

You will want to list the grades sent to you by the student so that they can be checked against the grades submitted in the online form.

Student-Faculty Research Projects

From the beginning, the Consortium program focused on year long research experiences for rising seniors. The purpose of the program is simple: to provide students with a research experience that encompasses the entire problem-solving process. Students learn the overall problem, identify an individual part of the problem for their own project, gather and interpret data, and present results at a professional style symposium. Part of the symposium experience is submission of an expanded, four-page abstract for publication in the Symposium Proceedings. The experience of submitting an abstract gives the students a taste for the technical editing process, including incorporating editorial changes suggested by reviewers (in this case, faculty sponsors/research advisors and project directors) as well as preparing a manuscript to meet specific formatting requirements.

Much of the work done by advanced students following their summer field experience is accomplished at the home institution under the guidance of an on-campus sponsor. The Consortium recognized from the beginning the importance of these sponsors in the overall quality of the final research results. Thus, a site-visit program for sponsors for advanced projects was developed. The Consortium provides funds for sponsors to travel to the field site, meet students and project faculty, and learn the overall research problem in order to enhance their understanding of the overall research problem and how their student’s work fits in the group effort.

On-Campus Sponsor/Research Advisor Duties for Student Projects

Students on Keck projects are required to complete at least one term, block, or semester of independent study or thesis credit at their home institution. Your primary responsibility is to ensure that the student registers for this credit and to supervise this research based on the work done during the summer program. The research project is selected by the student within the bounds set out by the project director. However, it is essential to the success of the student that the project selected be something that the on-campus sponsor/research advisor can supervise adequately. To find such a project requires good communication between the sponsor/research advisor, project director, and student. It is important that you meet with your student before they leave for the summer, in order to discuss their summer work and the expectations for next academic year.

Supervision of the student’s research requires not only guidance on the individual project but also cooperation with the rest of the research group. Thus, you need to familiarize yourself with the goals of the research group and the structure of their cooperative effort. We strongly encourage you to visit the summer project in order to facilitate selection of an appropriate student project, to improve understanding of the groups research goals, and to establish good communication between the on-campus sponsor and the project staff (limited funding is available for this visit – contact the Keck Consortium Director). When such a trip is not possible, project director and on-campus sponsor should discuss the project goals, the sponsor’s role and the types of student projects that will be manageable via e-mail or by phone. Student, project director and on-campus sponsor/research advisor should all share responsibility for good communications during the academic year.

The second major responsibility of the on-campus sponsor/research advisor is to oversee preparation of the student’s abstract and presentation for the Research Symposium in Geology held in April each year. It is your responsibility to see that the student meets the abstract deadlines or any earlier deadline imposed by the project director. Furthermore, you are responsible for overseeing editing of the abstract. The abstract volume is widely circulated both to potential sources of funds and to schools, thus it is important that all abstracts be edited as they would be for a professional publication. Guidelines for producing the abstract will be sent to you and your student following the summer field season. Following the guidelines is critical because abstracts that do not meet the criteria will not be published in the research volume. Finally, you should also advise your student on the qualities of a good oral and poster presentation and make sure that the student is adequately prepared for their presentation.

It is extremely important that faculty carefully read the 015-2016 Project Descriptionsto insure that you have the skills and interest to help guide your student’s research for the projects they are applying for, even if they are not chosen for their first-choice project.  If a student is chosen for their 2nd or 3rd choice project, we will want assurance that you are someone else in the home department will be willing and able to serve as faculty advisor to the student applicant.

The Student Research Projects

Students make a yearlong commitment to the program, and the nature of their experience varies markedly through the year. In the spring before the field season, project directors lead the students through the background study needed for a basic understanding of the project and geology of the study area. Online interactions for each project facilitates communication among participants (project faculty, students, and on-campus sponsors/research advisor). In the field phase, students spend four-weeks at the study site, learning the geology in more detail, identifying a project, and gathering data.

Fieldwork varies with project (see proposed project descriptions), but includes activities such as mapping, coring, surveying geomorphologic features, measuring stratigraphic sections, and sampling for later chemical or petrographic analyses. During the field season, the impetus of work transfers from the project faculty as students take responsibility for developing a research plan and collecting the data and samples needed to complete their work.

Following the field phase, students return to their home campus and work under the guidance of an on-campus faculty sponsor/research advisor. During this time, work is more independent in nature as students work to finalize data collection and analysis (e.g., sample preparation for petrographic and chemical analyses, distillation of survey data, textural analysis) and interpret their results. Online interactions, however, facilitate communication among participants so that the collaborative aspect of the overall research project is maintained. Past experience shows that students have a better research experience in the independent-study phase when the on-campus sponsor travels to the field site. Site visits are especially critical for sponsors new to the program and limited funds are available to support this travel.

Each student and their faculty advisor will be expected to participate in several virtual meetings with project faculty and with other students and their advisors on project.  The timing and format of these virtual meetings will be determined by the Project Director.

The independent-study phase culminates with a presentation of results at the Keck Research Symposium in Geology the following spring. The Consortium also requires the students to complete an independent study or senior thesis based on their Consortium project.

Keck Research Symposium in Geology

A professional style symposium, held in April each year, has been a critical part of the Consortium program from the very beginning. The symposium serves a number of purposes. For the students, it is an opportunity to present research results in an environment that emphasizes the importance of communication and builds self-confidence. Students share results of their work with other students, faculty, and professional geoscientists in poster sessions or talks. This experience challenges the students to present information in a clear and concise fashion, sharpening their skills in communication. The Consortium publishes the proceedings and also maintains a web site devoted to the symposium. For the faculty, the symposium is an opportunity to interact and share information with each other and industry geoscientists, stimulating the development of new collaborations and innovative programs. The Consortium derives its sense of identity and purpose at the symposium.

The symposium is a gathering place for some of the most talented and motivated undergraduate students in the nation. The event gives students an opportunity to present research results in a professional and supportive environment. While at the symposium, the students interact with those from different projects, allowing exchange of ideas and approaches to problem solving as well as expanding their network of peer and faculty mentors.

Students are required to submit four-page extended abstracts for publication in the symposium volume. At the symposium, students present their work in poster presentations and short talks. The Consortium supports students in these endeavors, providing guidelines related to production of graphics as well as an abstract template to assist text formatting. Students receive tips for designing effective graphics, as well as writing abstracts and talks, and planning posters. Participants will work to design their submissions in formats most conducive to electronic publication. Students have the opportunity to submit abstracts for review prior to deadlines, receiving feedback from Consortium administration on graphics design and production, abstract organization, and writing in standard geoscience style.