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HCI Researchers Receive National Science Foundation Grant

HCI researchers, Dr. Jonathan Westover and Dr. Maria Blevins are part of a 5-member university research team that have been award a National Science Foundation Grant to carry out a multidisciplinary community impact research project.

See a brief overview of the funded project proposal below.

Funded Proposal Overview: The IUSE GEOPAths UP program proposed by Utah Valley University (UVU) will facilitate undergraduate geoscience preparation and awareness through multidisciplinary service-learning project focused on Utah Lake. These projects will enhance students’ professional skills, increase access to professional networks, and deepen knowledge of geoscience career pathways. Through the UP–Utah Lake project, students will conduct service learning, primarily in the form of community-based research, aimed at informing policy makers in efforts to rejuvenate the lake at the heart of this community. UP–Utah Lake participants will be drawn from the geoscience fields of hydrology, environmental science, biogeochemistry, and geography; from the social science fields of environmental communication and economics/business management; and from the related STEM fields of biology and chemistry. Major activities include: 1) implement the UP-Utah Lake service-learning project embedded in an 8-week summer ENVT 495R course for cohorts of 12 students annually; 2) create a learning environment within the summer course to meet the mentoring needs of participants, and to provide STEM workplace skill building and career-relevant experience; 3) develop a geoscience learning ecosystem (GLE) among stakeholders in the Utah Lake community to create enhanced learning opportunities for students; 4) integrate related UP-Utah Lake service learning in other courses during the academic year; and 5) deepen students' interest and knowledge of geoscience careers by activities with GLE such as career presentations, field trips, and job shadowing opportunities. Utah Lake, bordered by the Provo-Orem metropolitan area, is a valuable ecological and recreational resource, compromised by invasive species and degraded water quality. A multidisciplinary approach is required to address its complex issues. 

Designed to maximize impact on student learning and career preparation, the proposed project leverages community-based research conducted by student-faculty teams over the past few years on Utah Lake and its watershed with funding from an NSF Utah EPSCoR project and in conjunction with local agency partners. To better address the complex issues that confront Utah Lake, a multidisciplinary team has been assembled including faculty with expertise in biogeochemistry, business management, environmental communication, geography, and environmental science, and a consulting hydrologist. The project will explore how this multi-disciplinary approach to an acute local issue creates interest and enthusiasm among student researchers and broadens participation to include more women in faculty-mentored research. The summer service-learning project is grounded in evidence-based practices such as mentoring from faculty and near-peers, and partnerships with area professionals from whom students will learn about geoscience careers. The Co-PI from UVU's Communication Department is an expert in assisting communication within diverse scientific teams. The Co-PI from UVU's Woodbury School of Business also directs UVU's Center for Social Impact, which oversees service-learning activities across campus. He will inform service-learning activities in the summer program and coordinate engaging service-learning activities during the academic year that will serve as a recruitment tool for the summer program. 



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