News & Events

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

Mikelia Heberer sitting on a stone fenceMikelia Heberer is a first-generation college student and was very thankful to be a part of OTF during GSA Connects and have a mentor guide them through their first conference.

What was the most impactful aspect of your OTF experience?

The most impactful aspect of my OTF experience was meeting new people at the conference and at the OTF-hosted dinner. Being a part of OTF meant I was matched with a mentor. My mentor gave me valuable advice and offered words of wisdom regarding the navigation of conferences, which I greatly appreciated. My second impactful aspect of meeting new people occurred during the OTF dinner at the hotel. While at the dinner, I had the opportunity to listen to words of wisdom from speakers that told stories of their own perseverance and resilience. Their stories were very inspiring and eye opening. I really appreciated their courage in sharing these experiences with us and inspiring the future generation of scientists.

What do you remember most from GSA 2021?

The most memorable experience that I have from GSA 2021 is the moment after I gave my first professional presentation and received a round of applause from the audience. I enjoyed the experience of answering questions after my presentation and having the opportunity to enhance my presenter skills.

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

When looking for a mentor, I wanted someone who had taken a similar career path to what I am currently on. I was paired with a mentor who I enjoyed. She was very supportive and offered valuable advice on navigating the science world. Because of my positive experience with my OTF mentor, I would consider returning as a mentor in the future.

How do you see OTF influencing or impacting your future?

Having such a positive, first experience at a conference, partly because of OTF, has really boosted my confidence in attending professional meetings. Being super nervous when I first got to the meeting, scheduled meetings with my mentor helped me balance my time and thoughts. I believe my mentor did a great job in giving me advice and sharing her wisdom of her career path. I hope to be a mentor for OTF in the future.

What would you like to say to donors thinking about supporting programs like OTF?

OTF is a great program that opens the door for people who usually don’t have the opportunity to go to conferences like GSA. Being a first-generation college student myself, I was very thankful to be a part of OTF during GSA and have a mentor that guided me through my first conference. As a result, my opinion of professional conferences is very high, just because my experience with OTF during GSA went so well.

 

Anahi Carrera in the fieldAnahi Carrera’s passion for geoscience was reignited after attending and presenting at GSA Connects 2021 as an OTF scholar. 

What was your OTF experience?

Thanks to support from On To the Future, I attended and presented for the first time at a GSA national conference as a graduate student. My presentation was titled “First-Generation College Students Underrepresented in US Geoscience Programs.” I have been interested in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion outreach and education since I was an undergraduate student. As a low-income, first-generation Latina pursuing higher education, I have faced many obstacles during my academic career. As an undergraduate student, I quickly realized that my geosciences classes were less diverse than most other classes and there was virtually no representation of non-White professors. I found DEI efforts to be extremely necessary and fulfilling, but as I was thinking about graduate school, I believed that DEI could not form a significant part of my work if I wanted to be considered a “serious graduate student.” I thought to myself, “It’s okay if I have to pause DEI work as a graduate student to make progress in my career because most professors will not care about it, and they may think it’s a ‘waste of my time’ and a harmful distraction from my research. My impact is minimal anyway, but once I, hopefully, become a faculty member, I could ramp up those efforts in a more influential way.” I think this exemplifies the effect of historically negative attitudes toward DEI work in the geosciences, the lack of incentives or recognition for this work, and perhaps why many remain completely uninvolved, especially those not from historically marginalized backgrounds.

Thankfully, I met my now Ph.D. advisor, Dr. Emily Cooperdock, who views DEI as an integral part of her work and purposely recruits students who are also interested in these efforts. She has always encouraged me to pursue DEI efforts and is a great role model and example of someone actively working to make the geosciences more inclusive and equitable while also excelling as a scientist. She taught the first-ever DEI seminar in the earth sciences department at the University of Southern California, from which I gained so much knowledge, awareness, and perspective. My final project for the seminar was complementary to the work of another student, Thom Luckie. Emily encouraged and facilitated collaboration between us, which resulted in the work I presented at GSA and we are currently working on a publication. Emily gave us the time and support to do this work since she recognizes the value in it. She motivated me to give an oral presentation at GSA, despite my fear of public speaking, and I am so glad she did.

Attending and presenting at GSA Connects 2021 as an OTF scholar was an incredible experience that has reignited my passion for the geosciences. It helped me realize that so many people are doing incredible DEI work all over the country and are genuinely interested in pivoting the field toward a more inclusive and equitable future. It was also evident to me that GSA does care and does give DEI initiatives and research the importance and respect they deserve. I also had the pleasure of meeting a Latina geoscientist faculty for the first time, Dr. Elena Miranda, who I respect and admire. Her impactful talk was titled “The Leaky Pipeline Playbook: A Critical Look at Gatekeeping Methods That Perpetuate the Disenfranchisement of Women and People of Color in the Geosciences and Some Strategies for Interrupting the Effectiveness of the Playbook Moves.” It was invigorating to witness her strength as she shared the discrimination and barriers she experienced as a graduate student and faculty member in such a raw, non-bureaucratic way. She also outlined tangible strategies to create real change at the institutional level that target the cause, not the symptoms.

At a time when the amount of progress to be done feels insurmountable and change seems to move at glacial speed, these experiences at GSA were encouraging. They gave me hope and made me realize that thanks to advocacy from people like Dr. Miranda, my advisor, and many others, I may not have to suffer as much discrimination and trauma if I pursue an academic career in the geosciences as many people from historically excluded groups before me have. I left the GSA conference feeling more empowered to become an agent of change. Thank you, GSA, OTF organizers, and everyone doing their part to create a more equitable future for the geosciences. Even if you feel like your work is undermined or undervalued in your department or organization, please do not give up!

 

Rene Castillo at GSA 2021OTF showed Rene Castillo that there is a community of scientists who are like them and are doing amazing things. They are inspired to continue their educational and scientific goals to solve the problems in the world around them with science.

What was the most impactful aspect of your OTF experience?

The most impactful aspect of my OTF experience was the OTF dinner at GSA. I got to meet everyone in person from our preconference Zoom meeting. I met the president of GSA and many other students and professors and had some really great discussions. By getting to see in person that there is a population of students like me who struggle with the same things and come from the same background, I felt like science was something I could continue to pursue. Meeting all those people, especially the professors and industry professionals showed me that there is a support network of people who want to mentor and invest in the future of geoscience. I made connections I never would have gotten if I hadn’t attended GSA’s annual meeting or been a part of OTF. It gave me hope that one day, there will be more scientists just like me.

What do you remember most from GSA 2021?

What I remember most from GSA was all the good conversations and advice I got from not just my GSA mentor but the other OTF mentors. I was so scared to go to the conference because I have been intimidated by talking to professors. But everyone I spoke with was so excited to interact with students and speak about not just the really cool science that they do, but to speak about experiences and opportunities and genuinely connect with students. My mentor for OTF wasn’t necessarily in the career field I am interested in, but she made it a point to get to know what I was interested in and then find me connections at the conference and help start a conversation with people who do the science I want to do. I will never forget the passion my mentor and the other GSA attendees, students, professionals, and academics alike had.

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

At first, I was worried about my mentor because I was intimidated by the virtual introduction through email. But after getting to meet Mrs. Amber Steele, I was inspired. She was so passionate about everything and walked me through the conference as I have never been to GSA before. She truly did want to help me succeed, whatever that looked like for me, either in a job or continuing my education, and made a point to help me find connections. I am so thankful to get to know her and have her in my network, and I hope to be a mentor like her in the future, because she refueled my passion for what I do and got me excited to go home and work towards my education goals.

How do you see OTF influencing or impacting your future?

Before OTF, I wasn’t sure I wanted to complete my Master’s or continue in geoscience in general after the pandemic and experiences I had in higher education. But after all the people I met and the hydrogeology and geophysics sessions I attended, I was reminded why I love science. OTF showed me there’s a community of scientists who are like me and who do amazing things. I am inspired to continue my educational and scientific goals to solve the problems I see in the world around me with science.

What would you like to say to donors thinking about supporting programs like OTF?

OTF is an experience that allows students who normally wouldn’t have such an opportunity to experience science in a new way. Getting to be a part of OTF can literally change students’ lives. I was going to most likely quit after one semester of graduate school, but by participating in OTF I found a community and network to support me to continue to pursue my passion for science and believe that the work I do is important. I promise that it means the world to students who are accepted as OTF participants and they are forever grateful for the opportunity and your support.

 

Kyle Merandi in the fieldKyle Merandi found a deep sense of community while attending GSA Connects thanks to OTF, which helped them immerse themselves in the broader GSA community.

What was the most impactful aspect of your OTF experience?

The most impactful aspect of my OTF experience was the sense of community that I found while attending the conference. Between the guidance provided by my mentor and the conversations with the peers I met during the various events, I feel more immersed in the GSA community and geosciences at large than I ever have. Having worked my entire way through college, I feel this experience helped make up for the networking and conference opportunities I missed out on throughout my undergraduate pursuits.

What do you remember most from GSA 2021?

The single most memorable moment from GSA 2021 was the welcome message that was read out at the LGBTQIA+ event from a member who could not attend this year. Hearing them recount events past—one year, the event consisted of two members meeting at a bar after the conference events ended for the day—and looking around at the amazing turnout at an official, sanctioned social event, gave me immense appreciation for how far we have come.

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

My mentor was an excellent resource during my time at the conference. He really took the time to hear my story, and used my goals and previous experiences to steer me in the right direction for sessions to attend and people to speak with. This being my first time attending a conference, I’d imagine I would have been slightly overwhelmed without the framework that OTF provided for the experience. I absolutely would consider returning the favor and mentoring others in the future.

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

The connections I made through the OTF program have been so rewarding. I hope to keep in contact with the friends I made and watch them grow in their careers and various pursuits. Getting the opportunity to talk with so many different people and share our experiences and knowledge is something that I hope to bring forward in the rest of my career.

What would you like to say to donors thinking about supporting programs like OTF?

Getting this opportunity was invaluable. I don’t know that I would have had a chance to attend GSA 2021 otherwise, let alone gain so much from it. If you believe our field can benefit immensely from bringing a more diverse group of people into the fold, putting your support behind programs like this is an excellent way to do so.

 

Emily True, GSA President Barb Dutrow, and Lisa Manlick at GSA Connects 2021Before OTF and GSA Connects, Lucy Manlick had impostor syndrome regarding their place in the geosciences. Since then, their confidence in geology has exponentially increased and they feel more confident in their abilities and coursework, and feel even more prepared for graduate school.

What was the most impactful aspect of your OTF experience?

There were two parts of the On To the Future program that I feel were the most impactful for me. Firstly, OTF paired me with a mentor who talked with me about my graduate school plans. She helped to advise me on my applications and potential career path, and connecting with her helped to acclimatize me to the conference. This leads me to the second most valuable part of this experience for me: attending the conference itself. Without OTF funding, I would not have been able to attend the GSA Connects 2021 conference. I had never been to a professional conference before this, and as an undergraduate senior, attending in-person had many benefits for me. The networking, résumé help, professional talks, and academic growth I gained by attending GSA Connects 2021 will go a long way in helping me on my academic journey.

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

My mentorship experience was very valuable, both through my OTF mentor and through the GeoCareers mentorship center at the conference. My OTF mentor helped me to better picture what graduate school will be like, and advised me on my personal statement and CV for applications. The mentor I connected with during the drop-in résumé workshop has also been incredibly valuable: she helped to edit my CV at the conference, and has continued to be a source of advice and support as I work on the other components of my graduate school applications.

I definitely think that I’d like to return as a mentor someday in the future. To ensure that I could have the greatest impact on my mentee, I would only volunteer after I have made more advancements on my academic and career paths. As a mentor, I’d like to be able to help my mentee network, and I’d like to help advise them on any academic goals. Because it will take time for me to gain this experience myself, I expect it will be a while before I feel prepared to volunteer as a mentor and give the best advice I can.

How do you see OTF influencing or impacting your future?

My OTF experience has had a significant impact on me, and I expect that it will continue to do so. OTF provided me with the means to attend my first professional conference: as an undergraduate student, this not only introduced me to cutting-edge scientific research, but also helped me in developing my network and my ability to develop poster presentations or presentations for my own future research. Before attending the conference, I don’t think I could have put together a research poster. After attending the conference, I feel that I could not only present a poster, but I could also give a presentation. This sort of professional development, combined with networking at the conference, will stay with me for a long time: professional skills and networking will benefit me greatly as I make my first steps into the graduate and early professional stages of my career.

The direct impact on my future is not the only influence that OTF has had on me. The significance that donors and GSA put in the time and effort to not only support me monetarily, but also with a mentorship, makes me feel welcome in the geoscience community. Before OTF and GSA Connects, I had impostor syndrome regarding my place in the geosciences. Since OTF and the conference, my confidence in geology has exponentially increased; I feel more confident in my abilities and coursework, and feel even more prepared for graduate school. This is probably the most lasting impact that OTF will have on me and my future: it made me feel like this is where I belong for my future career. This confidence and security that OTF fostered will have a lasting impact on me as I forge my way into a future in geoscience.

What would you like to say to donors thinking about supporting programs like OTF?

OTF was an invaluable experience for me to make my first steps out of my undergraduate experience into the professional environment. Without the funding and mentorship that OTF provided me, I would not have been able to attend. OTF helps students like myself to work on our professional development and prepare for the next stages in our careers: if you want to support the next generation of geoscientists, and promote GSA’s mission in diversifying the geosciences, OTF is an amazing program worth your support!

Caption: Emily True (left) and Lucy Manlick (right), OTF Scholars, with GSA President Barb Dutrow (center).

Ganiyat Shodunke at GSA ConnectsThanks to the support of donors, Ganiyat Shodunke was able to attend GSA Connects, where she had a great experience meeting and interacting with people, learning, and getting a chance to further professional and personal development. 

What was the most impactful aspect of your OTF experience? 

I would say that networking and mentorship were the most impactful aspect of my OTF experience. The people I met, including my mentor, helped me to better understand how my Ph.D. program is a great asset for me and how to pilot it to what I want it to be.

What do you remember most from GSA 2021?

I remember the “welcomingness” of people I met. I got to chat with some professors and learn more about their research and life experiences. I also met an OU alumnus with whom I had a long chat about research.

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

One of the main reasons I was drawn to apply to be a part of the OTF program was the mentoring opportunity. I got matched with an amazing mentor, Dr. Kathryn Murdock, who is a geophysicist like me and who has been through a Ph.D. program. She reviewed my résumé professionally and gave me useful feedback on things to make it better. Kathryn also gave me advice on the many opportunities that a Ph.D. program in geophysics has to offer. I was encouraged to explore other divisions of GSA, such as the Environmental and Engineering Division (EED). Before this, I had only been a member of the Geophysics Division or Energy Division. It was great to have an opportunity to sit and have a chat with a professional in a safe and encouraging space.

I would definitely sign up to be a mentor. I am willing to share my experience with fellow students, especially undergraduate and graduate students, who are currently navigating a path that I have previously taken. I am hopeful that they might find some of my experiences useful as they navigate their student career.

What would you like to say to donors thinking about supporting programs like OTF? 

I am grateful for the donors who made my first GSA annual conference possible. Without their support, the possibility of me attending would have been low. I had a great experience meeting and interacting with people, learning, and getting a chance to further professional and personal development. Donors make this possible. Although I didn’t present at the conference this year, I met a lot of other OTF scholars who gave technical talks and presented posters about their research all because of the support provided to them by the OTF program.

 

Lauren and Hannah Heerschap in the fieldBrunton is now a family-owned, geologist-owned— and, for the first time, woman-owned—Wyoming small business.

The Brunton brand is known and sold worldwide, especially in the geology community where a pocket transit of any model is simply called “a Brunton.” The Geological Society of America is eager to continue working with the company under its new ownership. In Lauren Heerschap, GSA has a true partner with deep connections: she received a GSA graduate student research grant while working on her master’s degree, and participated in a GSA Penrose Conference in Taiwan. She became a student member of GSA in 2002 and has attended, presented, and worked at many GSA annual and section meetings since then.

Read our article in GSA Today’s May edition for the full story and be sure to check out the special offer from Brunton available to all GSA members.

Caption: Brunton’s Lauren Heerschap gets help from the littlest field assistant: Hannah, Lauren and David’s daughter, is “now too heavy to carry for miles up into the mountains—she has to hike it herself!”

Jordan AllenAt GSA Connects, Jordan Allen was matched with a mid-career scientist working in academia as a mentor. This mentor helped Jordan navigate the world of science from a different perspective.

What was the most impactful aspect of your OTF experience?

This was my first time attending GSA. I really appreciated OTF for matching me with a mentor for the meeting. This process allowed me to meet a mid-career scientist working in academia. I learned so much about my mentor’s story and how to navigate the world of science from a different perspective. Dr. Suarez came to my poster to learn about my research. She also invited me to her poster. I made sure to reach out to her after the conference and we will continue to keep in touch.

What do you remember most from GSA 2021?

I will remember the new young and motivated scientists I met during the conference. We all have very different backgrounds and interests, some wanted to pursue careers in policy, academia, industry, and entrepreneurship. I think one of the things that I took away from our discussions and interactions was that we all wanted to make a difference in our field of study as well as in the world. I have no doubt that we will.

I also will remember attending the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee meeting. I thought the meeting went well and there were some great ideas. I am looking forward to the action plan set by the committee.

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

My mentorship experience was phenomenal. Please provide everyone with a mentor. We all need guidance in some way.

I would love to return and serve as a mentor.

How do you see OTF influencing or impacting your future?

This experience really gave me the confidence to continue my science journey and complete my Ph.D. I had so much fun talking about my research during the poster session and meeting new people. I also learned about other students’ research. This experience will impact my future through mentorship and networking.

What would you like to say to donors thinking about supporting programs like OTF?

We need this program. Please provide funding for more students; just give it time and you will see the success of students from OTF.

 

Courtenay Duzet in the fieldBeing a student, Courtenay Duzet sometimes feels that their lack of experience can make it difficult to integrate into the geoscience and research community, but the GSA 2021 community welcomed any and all questions they had and made their input feel wanted.

What was the most impactful aspect of your OTF experience?

Without a doubt, the most impactful aspect of my OTF experience was having a mentor and getting to meet and talk with her throughout the meeting. When I applied, the mentorship aspect was what intrigued me the most, and it did not disappoint. Being able to speak candidly with someone with years of experience in geoscience and research, I feel truly helped me through some tough situations regarding what I wanted to do with my academic career. It was truly a priceless experience and I would be honored to one day repay the favor and serve as a mentor myself.

What do you remember most from GSA 2021?

I remember how welcoming everyone in the GSA community was. Being a student, I sometimes feel that my lack of experience can make it difficult to integrate into the geoscience and research community, but the GSA 2021 community welcomed any and all questions I had, and made my input feel wanted. In return, I feel that I learned more at GSA than I have at other science conferences.

 

John AkudikeJohn Akudike wants to see more students become professional geoscientists and help resolve geoscience challenges globally. John is excited that OTF is helping make that dream a reality for more students.

What was the most impactful aspect of your OTF experience?

The most impactful aspect of my OTF experience was the opportunity GSA afforded me to connect with students and professionals alike, learning about their research and sharing mine too.

What do you remember most from GSA 2021?

I remember going all-out at GSA 2021. I felt like there were no holds barred as everyone was given equal platform to voice their opinions and each person’s opinion was considered.

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

My mentorship experience was awesome! I was matched to my mentor through OTF, and we developed a good professional relationship before finally meeting at the conference.

I look forward to returning to serve as a mentor in the coming years.

How do you see OTF influencing or impacting your future?

I’m doing my best to maintain the relationships and connections I made through OTF, as I believe together, we can all scale our impacts in the geosciences and beyond.

What would you like to say to donors thinking about supporting programs like OTF?

The OTF program afforded me the opportunity to attend my first international conference, and for that, I am immensely grateful. With your support, more students’ dreams to become professional geoscientists would be achieved and they would be able to make some impact in the world—helping to resolve geoscience challenges globally.

 

Template Information

The information below explains the type, use and design process for this template

Template Name:

Description:

Template Design:
This is an interpolated template. The design of the site will be applied to this template. There may be design revisions available, but this template will now follow an approval process.