News & Events

Please visit this page regularly for fund updates and to find out about new fund efforts.

Laura Serpa, retired Professor of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Texas at El Paso, encourages everyone to get involved in making the world a better place.

How did you first get involved in GSA?

I first got involved in GSA as a graduate student about 40 years ago. I regularly attended GSA meetings—particularly sectional meetings, but also some of the annual meetings—and read articles in GSA journals, so it was logical to join. Also, it was one of the most affordable professional organizations for students at that time. Over the years, I have served on committees and presented talks at GSA meetings, so it became a great place to see old friends and catch up on the latest geoscience.

What inspired you to give to GSA CARES?

I strongly support student involvement in GSA and think students should be encouraged to stay in school and earn degrees in geoscience. I would not have any college degree if it were not for financial help along the way.

What would you like to say to students affected by COVID-19?

Try to avoid getting sick yourselves and stay in school, if possible, even if it is online. This is a great time to go hiking and camping in the wilderness, where rocks may be one of the best things to look at.

What would you like to say to others who want to help during this time?

There are a lot of bad things going on in the world right now, and that is not going to change unless we all try to help. Donations, mentoring, and voting for change are only a few of the things that everyone should be doing now to make things better.

 

Cal and Melanie Barnes, longtime GSA members, encourage students not to give up and remind others that the next generation of scientists needs all the help we can provide.

How did you first get involved in GSA?

Cal joined GSA in 1975 thanks to encouragement from faculty and low student dues. Melanie joined in 1976. Cal joined the GSA South-Central (SC) Section Meeting management board in about 1996 and was the SC chair from 2000–2001. Since then, his activities have been mainly in the Cordilleran Section. Melanie was on the Geology and Public Policy Committee as the SC representative for about 6 years.

What inspired you to give to GSA CARES?

Both of us work in the academic world, so we have a front-row seat concerning the disruption students have to deal with in the transition to the virtual classroom.

What would you like to say to students affected by COVID-19?

  1. Be flexible. We know that each teacher has a ‘style’ in the classroom. It’s also true when teaching virtually.
  2. Don’t slack off. Getting behind is a bad idea no matter what the classroom looks like.
  3. Explore the wide range of professional opportunities in the earth sciences.
  4. Don’t give up. When we emerge from the coronavirus we will still need enthusiastic earth scientists.

What would you like to say to others who want to help during this time?

The costs of education will continue to increase, and with federal and state budgets under strain, the next generation of scientists needs all the help we can provide.

 

Camala GarzioneCamala Garzione, Professor and Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs at Rochester Institute of Technology, wants students to know that she is pulling for them and feels an urgent need to help as they struggle with the disruption to their livelihood and education.

How did you first get involved in GSA?

My first experience with GSA was attending a GSA Section Meeting as a master’s student. I presented my first research talk. The community was warm and welcoming and provided great feedback on my master’s research.

What inspired you to give to GSA CARES?

I’ve seen the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the education and financial stability of our students at Rochester Institute of Technology. Every bit of support has helped to keep students connected and progressing in their educational goals. We discussed this opportunity to support students in the geosciences at the spring GSA Council meeting. Many Council members and I felt an urgency to help get this support out to students who were struggling with the disruption in their livelihood and education. We stepped up to help define a process for applying, make donations, and support the processing of applications.

What would you like to say to students affected by COVID-19?

We are all pulling for you. I know it is a very difficult time, but things will get better. Please stay connected with the GSA community, and don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice from our community members. Like all crises, this will pass, and you will be stronger and more resilient from having gone through this.

What would you like to say to others who want to help during this time?

Think back to your time as a student, whether it was an easy time or full of challenges. Imagine what it would be like to go through that time under the current circumstances. Donating to student support efforts will help ensure that the next generation can reach their educational goals and succeed. Their future is GSA’s future as an organization.

 

photo of Jeff RubinJeff Rubin, GSA Councilor, semi-retired emergency manager, and consultant, shares how it was a relief to be able to provide tangible assistance to students he knows are struggling and offers a reminder to dig in for the long haul.

How did you first get involved in GSA?

I joined after starting grad school (Early Holocene) to get more involved in the profession. I retained my membership even long after I stopped working as a practicing geologist. I was able to apply my geology background to public safety, valued GSA as a way to maintain a link, and I was always able to find a place in the organization. I started to get involved in GSA service in field safety and science policy, which fit segments of my career path. It stuck.

What inspired you to give to GSA CARES?

I’ve been working on our state’s COVID-19 response for a few months; although Oregon had somewhat of a glancing blow at first, the overall effects across the U.S. and the world have been brutal, and it’s not going away soon. Being able to jump into something offering tangible assistance was almost a relief. I was fortunate to have people take an interest in me during and after grad school, and I’ve tried to do the same with students over the years, so it wasn’t even a question for me.

What would you like to say to students affected by COVID-19?

I’ll skip the “hang in there,” #__Strong, and other platitudes. It’s hard enough being a student or recent graduate without a pandemic, relying on an internship, summer job, or TA position just to make ends meet, much less carry on research. I don’t think anyone could read the applications for assistance and not be affected—even for those who don’t get sick this is clearly an existential event. GSA CARES is a lifeline, not a lifeboat, but it’s a tangible demonstration of how important this is to the Foundation, GSA, and its members. We went way beyond what we projected in donations and thus what we were able to provide to student members—that matters.

What would you like to say to others who want to help during this time?

Do what you can: time, money, and just not adding to the problem. Limit your gatherings, wear a mask when you’re out among others, and dig in for the long haul. Look out for your students, support staff, and everyone else.

 

close-up of Joan Fryxell boating

Dr. Joan E. Fryxell, Professor of Geology, California State University, San Bernardino, shares how her students are tough and dedicated, but with the added burden of COVID-19 she knew it was her duty to help them.

How did you first get involved in GSA?

I joined GSA in 1977, when I graduated from college, to keep in contact with the geological community while I pursued a master’s degree in another field, and because it seemed like the professional thing to do. I got involved with GSA through the Cordilleran Section, as a local organizing committee member, and from there GSA started asking me to participate in other activities.

What inspired you to give to GSA CARES?

I teach at a regional comprehensive university whose students are overwhelmingly first-generation students working their way through college. I see their struggles to accomplish their goal of a college degree when the economy is “good” or at least the way it has been, juggling school, work, and home commitments, and I applaud the lengths they go to. Adding quarantine is a serious burden, and anything I can do to help is my duty to them.

What would you like to say to students affected by COVID-19?

Wash your hands. Wear a mask. We all need to get used to this mode until an effective vaccine is widely available, so hang in there. I am looking forward to the day when I can hug my students at a commencement ceremony!

What would you like to say to others who want to help during this time?

I am fortunate to be able to work at home, so my income is stable. If you are in a similar position, please consider contributing to a program that supports students. Our students are tough and dedicated, but they need our support.

photo of Steve WellsWhy I Give: GSA CARES

During an unprecedented time, the GSA Foundation Board of Trustees and the GSA Council undertook an unprecedented measure: the conception of GSA CARES, the GSA COVID-19 Assistance and Relief Effort for Students.

In response, GSA members and donors rallied together in the true sense of community that is GSA and showed our students how much we care about them and their wellbeing, their futures, and their vital role as our next generation of geoscientists.

Over the next few weeks, we will share testimonials from some of the many donors who were inspired to give of their resources to help students negatively impacted by COVID-19.

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Steve Wells, GSA Foundation Trustee and President of New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, shares how his lifelong work with students inspired him to suggest the idea for GSA CARES.

What inspired you to suggest the idea for GSA CARES?

The idea for GSA CARES came from a fundraising effort developed at our university, New Mexico Tech, by our Office for Advancement and Alumni Relations. It was established as our university was witnessing an increase in giving to help people during this crisis.

As an academician for 40 years and a GSA member for more than 40 years, I care for students in our profession, I want to see them succeed, and I want our Society to support students as much as possible. Knowing that the students at our university were negatively impacted by the pandemic, it was obvious that the students in our Society were feeling the same pressures and challenges. As a Society and a profession, these students are our future.

What would you like to say to students affected by COVID-19?

As fellow geologists, time is so important in all we consider. Given this unique point in time that appears to have so much uncertainty, I think I would offer a view of time through the words of Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor and philosopher:

Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away.

This pandemic will be swept away, primarily through the implementation of science, medicine, and working collaboratively as a global community. This pandemic challenge will pass, and all of you will be stronger and more resilient because you have endured the challenge.

What would you like to say to others who want to help during this time?

The opportunity that each of us has during this crisis is not only to show we care for the future but we are willing to step up and invest in the future. Our future is our students.

 

 

All of us at the GSA Foundation sincerely hope that you and your families remain healthy and well during this unprecedented time. In awareness of the current and evolving situation, we also wish to sustain the hope of days ahead and the promise of developing careers and livelihoods, including those in the ever-vital geosciences. During this time, we would like to help our geoscience community continue to prepare geoscientists of the future, and we offer a positive way to invest in the future of our field.

We have a meaningful opportunity to double the impact of your support. A longtime GSA Foundation donor is issuing a matching gift challenge. Between now and 30 June, the donor will match 1:1 gifts made to GSA’s diversity initiative, On To the Future (OTF), for a total of up to $11,000.

The goal of OTF is to help students from traditionally underrepresented groups become part of the geoscientists of the future. Recipients of OTF scholarships are provided a year’s membership to GSA along with full meeting registration and travel support to attend their first GSA Annual Meeting.* They are also paired with a mentor who helps them navigate the meeting, make decisions about future education opportunities, and prepare for their future geoscience careers.

Click the “DONATE” button above and make a gift today to On To the Future and double your impact on the geoscientists of the future.

*Keeping in mind the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, gifts made to the OTF fund at this time will be applied to the OTF Program based on the status of GSA programming over the coming months. Your gift may help provide registration and mentorship for in-person or virtual GSA meetings, or expand the fund so that future student participants can be supported at a greater level.

OTF group at GSA 2020

 

The GSA Foundation has selected Dr. Christopher Grant Maples, as the next GSAF President. He replaces Dr. John W. (Jack) Hess, who has been the President of The Foundation since January 2015.

Dr. Maples earned his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees at Indiana University and his B.S. at West Georgia College. He has held senior leadership positions at both geoscience centers (Department Chair, Geological Sciences, Indiana University; executive vice president for research, Desert Research Institute) and technology-focused universities (president, Oregon Institute of Technology; interim chancellor, Missouri University of Science and Technology). Currently, he is the interim president at the Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA). He also has served at the National Science Foundation and the Kansas Geological Survey. In addition, he has some 16 years of continual advanced leadership training at several prestigious institutions. He is a GSA Fellow and a Fellow of the Paleontological Society.

The Foundation Board feels that he has excellent skills as both a manager and fundraiser and will help us expand our ranks of friends and donors to the Society.

Dr. Maples will join GSAF in July of this year. The Foundation gives its most sincere thanks to Jack Hess for many years of thoughtful, bold, and very successful leadership and we welcome Chris Maples into our family.

Richard Burns, Celina A. Suarez, and Yasuko Smith at GSA 2019Left to right: Richard Burns, professor of geology, College of the Desert, California (Yasuko’s college adviser); Celina A. Suarez, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Geosciences, University of Arkansas (Yasuko’s OTF mentor); Yasuko Smith.

Yasuko Susana Smith (Yasuko Hirata), College of the Desert, Palm Desert, California; founder and current club president of the Geology Club on campus; and volunteer with Friends of the Desert—a non-profit organization that manages the Sand to Snow National Monument creating work/field experience opportunities for students to gain while volunteering—shares how her mentor helped make sense of the overwhelming number of options available to her at GSA 2019, helping Yasuko make the most of her freshman experience.

Pre–GSA 2019 Questions

What are your expectations for the annual meeting and OTF (On To the Future)?

I hope to meet others who share similar interests, and to expand my knowledge and experience in my field and to network with others in the geoscience education community.

What do you want to get out of the program?

I want to make myself a more well-rounded student and to further advance my interests in my academic and career goals. I would love to learn about undergraduate research opportunities, internships related to geoscience education and the National Parks department, and any related scholarships.

What are you most looking forward to?

I am really looking forward to discovering more about the role geoscience education plays in the parks department and what role I can play in the future. I am very excited to view all the exhibits and see what research topics are currently being explored.

What would you like your mentor to help with during the meeting?

To help me focus and define my goals. Being a non-traditional student, I’m anxious to earn my degree and begin applying it toward my professional goals. Being focused and having well-defined goals will help me to achieve these goals more efficiently.

 How do you see OTF helping you in the future?

The experiences and knowledge gained will help me in assisting others. I have a deep interest in geoscience and the parks department, rivaled only by my passion in educating people about these topics. I hope to be able to bring these two personal interests together and not stop with educating students, but ignite a passion in them toward appreciation and volunteerism.

Post–GSA 2019 Questions

Did OTF meet your expectations?

Attending the 2019 GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix was an incredibly rewarding experience. As a first-time attendee, I was initially overwhelmed by the vast amounts of information. Part of the OTF program includes a mentorship opportunity, which I found to be extremely beneficial. The knowledge shared was invaluable and will help me in my future endeavors. Honestly, I attended the meeting not knowing what to expect, but was in no way disappointed.

What was the most impactful aspect of your OTF experience?

The poster hall afforded me a glimpse of what will be expected from me in the future, and provided me with an abundance of examples and ideas as to how research posters are presented. The opportunity to meet all the research students and professionals currently working in the field provided me with insight, which I have yet to experience in my academic path. This was very impactful and has motivated me to make it a personal goal to work on a project that I can present at a future GSA conference.

What do you remember most from the annual meeting?

The On To the Future morning sessions were incredibly beneficial as they offered an opportunity for new attendees to be introduced to various key figures in the geo-community, and we were presented with a number of scholarship opportunities, internships, and other programs that would further our personal geo-goals.

What was your mentorship experience like? Would you consider returning to serve as a mentor?

Meeting my mentor was incredibly beneficial to me as she was able to provide invaluable insight into how the various meetings ran and which of the different events were best to choose to optimize my freshman experience. I would definitely consider becoming a mentor in the future to share what others have shared with me.

After your OTF experience, how do you see OTF influencing or impacting your future?

In the near future, I plan to continue my education at a four-year university and pursue a graduate degree in the field of geology or environmental education. Specifically, I’m looking to becoming a community college professor in geology and/or to working for the parks department, creating environmental conservancy programs for interpretive educational tours and lectures. I feel that every experience and every opportunity that cross my path are tools I can use to further my educational goals and to mentor others; to help others as others have helped me. As a homeschooling parent and a volunteer at my local conservancy, continuing my education not only benefits me, but my children and others like me interested in preserving our world. We cannot simply wait for global problems to resolve themselves. We have to be active participants in finding solutions in order to preserve our children’s future. It was a privilege to receive assistance to attend the GSA 2019 Annual Meeting, which assisted me in learning new ways to connect to the community and the environment.

Brian Swilley, graduate, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, currently enrolled in an M.S. in construction management at Arizona State University, shares how much value the On To the Future (OTF) program added to his GSA 2019 experience.

Pre–GSA 2019 Questions

What are your expectations for the annual meeting and OTF?

To gain a better understanding of the workings of the GSA and the way they keep providing their members with quality events such as this meeting.

What do you want to get out of the program?

To network with other members of the GSA community and see what opportunities are available to a recent graduate in both academic and professional fields.

What are you most looking forward to?

The chance to see the different perspectives of the presenters in their various presentations and engaging with the information they are offering.

How do you see OTF helping you in the future?

OTF will allow for me to receive guidance directly from those in the geological field about such things as employment, furthering my education, and learning about the many projects being conducted in this field.

Post–GSA 2019 Questions

Did OTF meet your expectations?

GSA and OTF more than exceeded my expectations! The networking at the OTF morning meeting was a great start to our day and the mentoring and résumé workshops were extremely valuable. The meet-and-greet made the whole trip worthwhile.

What was the most impactful aspect of your OTF experience?

I gained a lot from the industry people who were willing to give insight into the professional aspects of work after graduation and to offer tips on how to make the best impression on future employers.

What do you remember most from the annual meeting?

Getting accepted into a master’s program at ASU! I also enjoyed a talk on Wednesday pertaining to sand migration in Lake Superior. I have reached out to the presenter to get more information on that topic.

What was your mentorship experience like?  Would you consider returning to serve as a mentor?

I did not have a mentor for this event, but I spoke with many of the mentors who were there. I would be honored to be a mentor at a future event. I learned by watching and listening how helpful mentors could be, and I regret not getting a mentor and would strongly advise all who are first-time attendees to participate in that offered service.

After your OTF experience, how do you see OTF influencing or impacting your future?

The experience and knowledge I gained from my involvement with OTF and GSA will allow me to better educate others on the lack of diversity in the geological environment, and to help bring more awareness not only to the lack of diversity in our field, but throughout much of academia.

 

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