Pacific Partnerships

Developing the 2YC Ocean Sciences Community

It has become widely recognized that community colleges (2YCs) are an important player in efforts to increase diversity in the STEM fields, including ocean science. Community colleges enroll a larger percentage of first generation college attendees and lower income and minority students than many four-year schools. They provide many science students with introductory science courses and for non-science students, including a large number of pre-service teachers, they provide the only science courses taken in their college career. COSEE Pacific Partnerships (COSEE PP) has focused efforts on providing community college faculty and students with opportunities to increase their understanding of the ocean. Through our activities we play a role in the larger effort to build an ocean sciences community that includes community college participation. Below we describe how we supported this initiative in 2012 as well as our plans for 2013. We encourage you to make community college faculty in your region aware of these opportunities.

Community College Faculty Institutes

We continue to provide a series of week-long residential professional development institutes at marine laboratories that bring together 2YC faculty and research scientists who are investigating ocean and coastal ecosystems. These institutes provide 2YC faculty with knowledge about current topics in ocean sciences that are taught by scientists active in research in the topic, provide materials and field and laboratory activities, and strengthen the network of 2YC community college faculty who are engaged in improving the learning of ocean science.

In 2012 we held two institutes. Dr. Michael Hadfield at the University of Hawaii Kewalo Marine Laboratory offered Population Linkages in the Pacific Ocean. This institute, designed for the 2YC faculty from Pacific Island community colleges, focused on how genetics is a fundamental tool in spatial population ecology, how to assay genetic variation, and how genetic data can help with marine management using examples from genetic connectivity data on invertebrates and commercial fisheries. We partnered with the NSF-ATE program at UH, the Partnership for Advanced Marine and Environmental Science Training for Pacific Islanders, to increase the impact of the world-class scientists who participated in the institute. Ten 2YC faculty from six colleges in American Samoa, Guam, Palau, Northern Mariana Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands participated in the short course, as well as five scientists from UH, Hopkins Marine Station, and Stanford’s Center for Ocean Solutions.

Dr. Jude Apple organized an institute that focused on Biological and Physical Oceanography at the Shannon Point Marine Center, Western Washington University, and featured the research of eight scientists from Western (including three new faculty members) and the University of Washington. Topics included plankton communities, microbial processes, invasive species, marine food-web interactions, ocean and estuarine circulation, oceanography sampling methods and ocean observing systems, evaluating coastal water quality and nutrient concentrations, and analysis of online oceanographic and water quality data. Fifteen 2YC faculty from 13 colleges in Washington, Oregon, and Texas participated.

2013 Opportunities for 2YC Faculty

Planning is underway for the final workshop in our series, which will be offered July 29 – August 2, 2013 at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology. COSEE PP is partnering with COSEE TEK and the institute will focus on marine technology and ocean observing. Particular emphasis will be placed on helping faculty develop ways to engage their students in research within the 2YC setting. We will begin accepting applications for this institute in January and will target 2YC faculty who teach at institutions where they have access to a nearby water body (both salt and freshwater) in which they could conduct class field trips and, where appropriate, develop research opportunities. We are currently undertaking a summative evaluation of the effects of the eight 2YC institutes that COSEE PP has implemented.

Partnering to Increase our Effectiveness

Forging partnerships with other projects can be an effective way to increase opportunities, effect change, and build capacity within the 2YC ocean science community. To that end, COSEE Pacific Partnerships has been working with a number of projects to increase opportunities for 2YC faculty and students. In July, COSEE PP partnered with the Supporting and Advancing Geoscience Education in Two-Year Colleges (SAGE 2YC) project to co-sponsor the Preparing Students in Two-year Colleges for Geoscience Degrees and Careers workshop in Tacoma, Washington. The workshop brought together community college faculty, society representatives, and geoscience practitioners to explore ways to increase an understanding of geoscience career opportunities by both 2YC faculty and students.

2013 Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography Meeting – New Orleans

Two-year college faculty have not had a significant presence at ASLO meetings. They do, however, teach a large number of diverse undergraduate oceanography courses and would benefit greatly from the sessions, activities, and networking opportunities that take place at ASLO meetings. In turn, researchers and 4-year college faculty would benefit from learning about the successes and challenges of community college geosciences programs and opportunities for collaboration. COSEE PP is working with Allison Beauregard, Northwest Florida State College, who has received funding from the National Science Foundation to support 2YC faculty attendance at the 2013 ASLO Meeting. On Monday, February 18, we are co-chairing special session SS29: Opportunities and challenges of teaching introductory oceanography to undergraduates, which will include oral and poster presentations focused on effective ways to teach and assess student learning in these classes. Additionally, we are co-sponsoring an afternoon workshop on Sunday, February 17, on successful ways to prepare community college students for geoscience careers. This is a follow-up session to this summer’s SAGE 2YC workshop.

COSEE PP is also participating in the InTeGrate (Interdisciplinary Teaching of Geoscience for a Sustainable Future) Project, which supports the teaching of geoscience in the context of societal issues both within geoscience courses and across the undergraduate curriculum. In the summer of 2013 we are also assisting the programmatic elements of Cutting Edge’s Teaching Oceanography workshop and encourage other COSEE Centers to make this opportunity known to both two-year and four-year faculty who teach oceanography.

 PRIME intern collects coralline algae
PRIME intern collects coralline algae to study the impacts of ocean acidification on physiology and productivity
Summer 2013 Opportunities for Community College Students

In summer 2013 we will offer our final opportunity for 2YC students to spend a summer at a marine laboratory conducting research with a science mentor. To date the Promoting Investigations in the Marine Environment (PRIME) program has supported 43 students, working with 32 scientists, at four of our marine laboratory partners. Eighteen community colleges have sent students to participate in PRIME. Ten students have self-reported as minorities. This has proven to be an effective way to provide students with research opportunities, and we are currently undertaking a summative assessment of the program in preparation for publications.

An important part of building the 2YC ocean community is providing information to the faculty on opportunities for participation in events. We continue to support a listserv for 2YC faculty in order to provide information on opportunities for professional development and information on new ocean science research and findings. Faculty can subscribe online or by contacting Coral Gehrke.