- January 2004
Geo Forum takes shape
staffers have been busy lining up funding and speakers for a much-anticipated
Washington, D.C., forum on careers in the geosciences that will bring
together talented undergraduates and leading researchers.
“This is an exciting event,” says Laura Curtis of the Office
of Development and Government Affairs, who is helping to plan the forum.
“The speakers we’ve recruited are very enthusiastic, and they
should entice the audienceinto taking a serious look at careers in the
The event, known as the Geo Forum 2004: Grand Experiences and Opportunities
in the Geosciences, will be held on 30 March at the National Academy of
Sciences building. Its goal is to increase the number of graduate geoscience
students, particularly those from underrepresented groups.
TIAA-CREF is sponsoring the event with a $25,000 grant. “This is
a generous contribution that’s greatly appreciated,” says
Cynthia Schmidt, director of the Office of Development and Government
Affairs. “We couldn’t pull off the Geo Forum without it.”
The forum is the brainchild of several members of the UCAR Board of Trustees,
including Orlando Taylor, dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
at Howard University; Ronald McPherson, executive director of the American
Meteorological Society; and UCAR president Rick Anthes.
In addition to UCAR, the event organizers include the American Meteorological
Society, The National Academies,and the Consortium of Universities of
the Washington Metropolitan Area.
Organizers say it is imperative to build the numbers of future geoscientists
at a time when decreasing numbers of U.S. students are entering graduate
programs in the geosciences and foreign students face difficulties in
obtaining U.S. visas. NSF recently reported that just 24,500 doctoral
science and engineering degrees were earned nationwide in 2002, which
is the lowest number since 1993.
“It’s critical that we bring more students into the geosciences,
especially minorities and others who have traditionally been underrepresented,”
Rick says. “The Geo Forum is a signal opportunity to reach out to
talented students and replenish the ranks of U.S. geoscientists.”
The forum will explore careers in the geosciences, including weather and
climate, oceanography, seismology, geology, and astronomy. Rick will give
a welcoming speech, CGD’s Warren Washington will deliver one of
the keynote addresses, and SCD’s Don Middleton will make a multimedia
presentation. Presenters from other organizations will include an on-air
meteorologist, a scientist studying volcanoes on Mars, a hurricane specialist,
and a NASA astronaut who worked on the space station.
The Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area will
nominate area students to attend the conference, and the turnout could
reach 250. If successful, the event may serve as a template for future
events to recruit students.
“After we wrap this up,” says Susan Friberg of Corporate Affairs,
“we may well be looking into holding similar forums in other regions
of the country.” •David Hosansky
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