Public Release: 

EARTH: Community college at sea

Research experiences for community college students build the STEM pipeline

American Geosciences Institute

Alexandria, VA - It's 3 a.m., and students from two Oregon community colleges are struggling to keep their sea legs as they work on the deck of a research vessel that is pitching and rolling in rough seas. Their objective is to recover an ocean-bottom seismometer that has been lying 160 meters underwater off the west coast of Vancouver Island, where it has been steadily recording seismic signals and long-period pressure trends for the past year. These students are experiencing what earth scientists do for a living, as a part of the Cascadia Initiative's CC@Sea program.

With funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), CC@Sea grew out of a previous community college-university collaboration: the NSF-funded Undergraduate Catalytic Outreach and Research Experience (UCORE) program. CC@Sea picks up where UCORE left off in 2012, further building upon it.

So far, these programs have helped 134 community college students gain valuable experience in physical science research. The program has also helped change perceptions of science and engineering among students, while promoting lively discussions and strengthening the STEM pipeline at community colleges. These programs highlight an important trend in attracting new students to STEM careers in a job market in which the geosciences are increasingly struggling to find qualified candidates to fill positions.

Access to the full article by Dean Livelybrooks, a geophysicist serving as the Cascadia Initiative Expedition Team Education and Outreach specialist, can be found online at

Check out other great articles available in the April issue of EARTH Magazine: Discover new twists in the Faint Young Sun problem, learn how Antarctic snowfall won't offset ice loss and see how magnetic braids can heat the corona.


Keep up to date with the latest happenings in Earth, energy and environment news with EARTH magazine online at Published by the American Geosciences Institute, EARTH is your source for the science behind the headlines.

The American Geosciences Institute is a nonprofit federation of geoscientific and professional associations that represents more than 250,000 geologists, geophysicists and other earth scientists. Founded in 1948, AGI provides information services to geoscientists, serves as a voice of shared interests in the profession, plays a major role in strengthening geoscience education, and strives to increase public awareness of the vital role the geosciences play in society's use of resources, resiliency to natural hazards, and interaction with the environment.

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