Brown University shieldBrown University

New NSF Grant Project supports Asian Americans & Pacific Islander students in Geoscience

December 10, 2021

AAPIiG-AGILE: Logo by Caroline Juang.AAPIiG-AGILE: Logo by Caroline Juang.The National Science Foundation has awarded Brown DEEPS a grant supporting new initiatives that foster belonging and participation among Asian Americans and Pacific Islander (AAPI) students in the geosciences. This project, titled AGILE (AAPI in Geoscience: Inclusivity, Leadership, and Experience), is a collaboration between 8 different institutions and is led by Daniel Ibarra (Brown University) and Kimberly Lau (Penn State). Through a number of innovative and collaborative programs and events, the grant project aims to improve the awareness of geosciences among AAPI undergraduates and cultivate a national network of mentors that will boost AAPI participation in geoscience graduate programs and careers. 

“The Earth and environmental sciences impact every person on our planet in some way, and so it’s a priority that our field is as inclusive as possible,” says Lau. “Who gets to become a geoscientist is a topic that the community has been focusing on. Through this project, we aim to provide more exposure to the Earth and environmental sciences, as well as create new opportunities for AAPI undergraduates to learn about how they can make an impact.”

The grant funds a number of exciting new initiatives, including a pilot Research Visit Program that will support short visits by faculty, graduate students, and other scientists to AAPI-serving institutions to bring awareness of geoscience careers and graduate school to AAPI students. The project also includes career-development events and workshops, and an Undergraduate Research Internship that will connect students with meaningful geoscience research and learning opportunities. Through all of this, the project plans to expose as many as a thousand undergraduates across the country to geoscience research and careers, establish a new research internship opportunity, and create national cross-career connections between AAPI geoscientists in diversity and inclusion discussions. 

“We AAPI geoscientists don't typically discuss issues of identity, despite the fact that AAPI representation in the geosciences lags far behind other STEM fields and national demographics," says Ibarra. “This is an opportunity to highlight AAPI scientists who have pursued careers in geosciences, and create a framework for them to give back to undergrads at AAPI-serving institution, creating a cross-career network of support, which is pretty exciting.” 

The project is being organized by a team of 8 scientists from different institutions, with Brown’s Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Science, and Penn State’s Department of Geosciences as the leads. Daniel E. Ibarra (Assistant Professor, Brown University) is the lead PI on the project. He is an isotope geochemist and paleoclimatologist and a co-founder of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Geosciences (AAPIiG). He is a Filipino-American with a commitment to diversifying academia. Kimberly Lau (Assistant Professor, Penn State) is the co-Lead PI, an isotope geochemist and paleoceanographer, and a co-founder of AAPIiG. She is Chinese American and a co-founder of AAPIiG. The team also includes David Ho (University of Hawai’i at Mānoa), Sora Kim (UC Merced), Sonya Legg (Princeton University), Randye Rutberg (CUNY Hunter College), Jessica Wang (Bellevue College), and Sam Ying (UC Riverside). The majority of the Principal Investigators on the project identify as AAPI and are associated with AAPIiG, a new grassroots, member-driven organization founded by Ibarra, Lau, and Christine Y. Chen (Lawrence Livermore National Lab) in 2020.