Best Practices at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) REU Site

Friday, 19 December 2014
Dallas H Abbott, Lamont -Doherty Earth Observatory, Palisades, NY, United States
At the LDEO REU site, we take student health and safety very seriously. In 2014, we gave the students training on laboratory safety, fire safety, and a Title IX orientation covering discrimination and sexual harassment. We also compile emergency contact information for all the students and distribute it to students, mentors and the administration. Students choose a research project and mentors then pick the best student for their project. Because the mentors choose the student, they are more invested in the student. Students and mentors are encouraged to interact before the program starts, both through discussions and assigned background reading. During these discussions, research projects are often modified to better-fit students interests and skill levels. During the program, we facilitate student-mentor interaction by conducting three research-focusing sessions with small groups of students. Students give 20-minute long oral presentations on the progress of their research and answer questions about their project. Mentors prepare the students for these sessions, thereby increasing student knowledge about their research project. Mid-way through the summer, students write a 3-page proposal about their research as part of a special seminar on scientific writing. The students also participate in a final poster session that is attended by the LDEO community. We maximize student engagement by giving students a choice of research projects that are specifically selected for their suitability for and interest among undergraduates. The track record of mentors is also considered. Mentors must be in residence at LDEO during most of the intern program and arrange a suitable co-mentor during any absences. Mentors must be individuals who are able to encourage the students while giving them constructive input on the progress of their research project. We also encourage students to present their research results at a national scientific meeting. Students and mentors are given a schedule at the start of the summer that includes the abstract deadlines for major national meetings. When it is possible, we fund each student’s attendance of a national meeting. Enthusiastic students who wish to attend a second meeting are given information on how to apply for funding to support attendance.