In February 2012, Assistant Professor of Geology Sarah Titus received a prestigious CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for a five-year research project on oceanic fault lines. The $418,891 grant will enable Titus to undertake field work at three unique locations where oceanic “transform faults” are exposed above sea level: New Caledonia (in the south Pacific), Cyprus, and Iceland. This field work will feed into an elaborate and groundbreaking effort to quantitatively model the faults.
Titus’ project is notable in its emphasis on student participation. The structure of her project, with multiple field sites, tools, and computational components, lends itself naturally to the involvement of up to 20 undergraduate researchers over the five-year period. Interdisciplinary research teams involving geology majors and other STEM students will be formed for each field site: geology majors will complete field-based projects for senior theses, and other STEM students will be recruited for summer research experiences involving computational and modeling projects. Additionally, summer camps about the local geology will be run twice for girls of about 13-15 years old - the age at which research suggests girls lose interest in science as a possible career.
The NSF’s CAREER program supports exceptional junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent teaching, and the integration of teaching and research.