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Chasing the hundred: the student pipeline, future of seismology, and what E&O might do. Seth Stein. With assistance from: Jill Karsten (AGU) Roman Czujko (AIP) Chris Keane (AGI). E&O: MULTIPLE ASPECTS.
With assistance from:
Jill Karsten (AGU)
Roman Czujko (AIP)
Chris Keane (AGI)
Increasing interest in E&O activities within NSF, the earth science community, and IRIS in particular raises the question of what we should be doing. Although there are many interesting ideas and ongoing programs, it is unclear what are the overall goals and means. Different aspects require different approaches:- Public understanding- K-12 education- General undergrad education-Undergrad majors- MS programs-PhD programs
A common faculty discussion topic is the difficult of recruiting Ph.D. students. Typical recommendations involve improving a department's marketing via fancier posters, web pages, and advertisements at meetings, etc. and/or making offers more attractive via higher stipends or longer guaranteed funding.How likely is this to work?
Data on student enrollments from AGI, AGU, NSF and the American Institute of Physics show that the problem is the small pool of potential students. At present, 80-100 Ph.D. students - about 1 per IRIS member institution - graduate per year in geophysics/seismology.Hence recruiting efforts face the challenge of preserving or increasing a given institution's share of this small group.In the short time this is a zero sum game.Why is this? Could we do better? Should we?
Graduating Ph.D.s form one end of a leaky pipeline.
About 3000 (numbers reported vary) BS degrees are granted each year in geosciences.
About 25% go to graduate study, and about 20% of MS graduates continue their education.
These losses are partially offset by entrants with degrees in other fields, so
about 350 Ph.D.s per year are granted in all geoscience.
BS awards peaked at about 7200 in 1982, declined, rose again to about 4500 in 1997, and declined to about 2000 in 2000. Ph.D. awards have remained roughly constant.
GEOLOGY ~ PHYSICS: TINY SHARE
Share hasn’t grown - actually shrunk - as student numbers grew
Perhaps Ph.D. enrollments respond to job supply and hence are in rough balance. Ideally, with ~15000 faculty and 3% retirement rates, ~450 positions would occur annually if department sizes remained constant (not the case).
Presently, about half of Ph.D.s go into postdocs, about 30% go directly into academic positions (not all tenure track), and the rest into industry and government.
There is a general feeling that the postdoc duration is increasing.
Maybe we shouldn’t encourage major growth in Ph.D. numbers unless additional opportunities for these talented young scientists arise.
Although “rocks for jocks” / “moons for goons” survey courses are popular (and generate TA funding), few of these students become majors, presumably because they chose the courses as easy paths through distribution requirements.
At Northwestern, 80-90% of 100 level class enrollments are to satisfy distribution requirements, 50-80% of class report spending
< 3 hrs/week on class outside lecture
Could we attract better students
And encourage majors?
Some schools seem to.
Need to know more about what’s
been/being tried and how it works
Lots of interesting activities seek improved K-12 earth
Easy to do neat things at elementary/middle level - hard to tell effect
In high school, hard to overcome the "earth science is for dummies" image: physics/chemistry/biology considered “real science”
Could substantive text/program be developed?
High school curricula are already packed, hard to find room for more
DON’T KNOW MUCH ABOUT WHY U.S. STUDENTS DO/DON’T MAJOR IN EARTH SCIENCE
Study of Dutch high school students (Snieder & Spiers, EOS, 2002)
“In general students do not choose a field because it is interesting or socially relevant. This observation was in strong conflict with attempts to attract students by trying to convince them how interesting and socially relevant Earth sciences are!”
“Future prospect for a successful career is the major motivation when choosing a field, and the perceived success of a career is usually measured in terms of its financial rewards”
“The distinction between different sub-disciplines such as geochemistry, geophysics, and hydrology within the Earth sciences is confusing and makes the field less attractive”
“Earth scientists are not a group to which students would like to belong (having a beard is sufficient to qualify one as a nerd)”
Exciting and visual story to tell
TV, radio, print coverage of earth science / geophysics / seismology seems good
Would be nice to have actual info about public perception
E&O efforts can help encourage scientists to communicate more/better
“You and the Media” (downloadable AGU publication) is a good start
Small discipline like geophysics / seismology can always use more coverage
Paris Hilton principle:
All publicity is good!