Aerial view of Bernard Brommel Hall

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Northeastern Illinois University’s Department of Earth Science, in collaboration with Northern Illinois University, has been awarded a $474,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to fund summer research experiences for students focusing on issues related to water quality in the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico.

Beginning in fall 2016, the collaborative grant will provide three years of funding to support undergraduate research at the two universities and in Mexico. Both universities also are collaborating with faculty and students at Mexico’s Centro de Investigación Científica de Yucatán.

“This program is an exciting opportunity for Northeastern students,” said Department of Earth Science Coordinator Kenneth Voglesonger, who will spearhead the effort at Northeastern with Earth Science Professor Laura Sanders. “The Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico is a unique natural laboratory to examine local and international issues related to water resource management. This program provides a high-quality research environment and mentoring to a diverse group of undergraduates.”

As a federally designated Hispanic-Serving Institution, Northeastern can provide opportunities to Hispanic students in the Earth Sciences to work and connect with scientists in a Spanish-speaking country.

Undergraduate students will work with experts on projects related to groundwater recharge, groundwater contamination and public health, and groundwater geophysics. Participants will be immersed in a scholarly experience that will develop valuable technical skills essential to their research projects, develop an understanding of the historical and cultural context of science and technology, and become part of a community of scholars with participating faculty and students.

Researchers will produce blogs and social media updates to engage the public. They also will make presentations in Mexico to local officials about the research findings and will publish some of the results in open-access journals.

Recruiting and selection will begin in the fall, and the first cohort of eight students will begin research in summer 2017. For each of the remaining two summers, new groups will build on the research findings of the initial cohort.