Back Together Again: ELCA Activities Foster Connections in 2022

After a summer of virtual meetings, SCEC’s Director of Experiential Learning and Career Advancement and SOURCES Program Manager, Dr. Gaby Noriega and 2022 SOURCES Cohort meet in person for the first time! Photo by Gaby Noriega (SCEC).

SCEC’s Experiential Learning and Career Advancement (ELCA) Programs provided junior members of the SCEC community with resources and mentoring as we overcame the challenges left by a pandemic and its lingering impacts. Over the last two years, opportunities for making professional connections and summer research opportunities were limited. To help sustain careers in geoscience and other STEM fields, SCEC provided research opportunities for undergraduates interested in earthquake science, coordinated events for in-person networking, and supported in-person research promotion via Travel Awards and Lightning Talks.  

Faces of 2022 SOURCES Interns while participating in a meeting on ZoomSOURCES 2022 Cohort meets virtually during the summer to discuss progress, professional development training, and participate in Career Talks. Screenshot of the SOURCES Cohort during Career Talks presentation with UseIT Alumnus Resherle Verna (‘17) and Karlee Rivera (‘22) sharing advice and lessons learned as they transitioned into their graduate programs.

The SCEC SOURCES Internship offers remote summer and academic year undergraduate research opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds and institutions across the nation regardless of their ability to travel, geographic location, or access to local researchers and/or facilities. SOURCES incorporates key professional skills development with geoscience and systems thinking and problem-solving. The summer and year-round internships components include interdisciplinary research opportunities, professional development training, and mentoring.

In 2022, SCEC awarded nine SOURCES internships to students from Pasadena City College, California Lutheran U., San Diego State , Cal State University Dominguez Hills, Santa Monica College, University of Southern California, and UC San Diego. SCEC Interns worked on projects that ranged from Communicating and Educating the Public on Earthquake Hazards Through Geovisualization Platforms and exploring how to Expand SCEC Engagement with stakeholders, to conducting Site Characterization Using Seismic Velocity Testing, developing a Semi-automated MATLAB algorithm to measure throw from high-resolution lidar topography, and enabling Performance Portability in Wave Propagation Simulation on Future Supercomputers via Kokkos.

SOURCES Interns (Rena Wu, Vanessa Herrera, Sebastian Silva, and Jessica Ledesma) and SCEC Scholar (George Pharris) at Sophia White’s poster presentation.

While the cohort met virtually during the summer, interns finally met at the SCEC Annual Meeting in person, where they presented their research poster to the community. Participation in SCEC2022 offered additional opportunities to connect and network in person. Information on the SCEC SOURCES Program can be found on the SCEC Internships page: https://www.scec.org/internships.

In 2022, SCEC offered the SCEC Scholars Program to support students transitioning to graduate programs in earthquake science by providing bridge funding and a range of training and networking opportunities. Students who have applied to or have accepted an offer to a graduate program will benefit from access to the SCEC network of peers, mentors, and advisers, and get a head start in their research training. SCEC’s 2022 Scholar transitioned to New Mexico Tech.

The Transitions Breakfast Club meets yearly during the SCEC Annual Meeting to share advice and lessons between senior and early career researchers and students.

The 6th Annual Transitions Breakfast Club meetup took place poolside and in person! After two consecutive virtual meetups, over forty student and early career participants connected with peers and mentors for the purpose of sharing experiences and strategies to navigate challenging career transitions such as Navigating Post-Pandemic Networking. In addition to the Breakfast Club Meetup, SCEC is co-coordinated the AGU2022 Seismology, Geodesy, Tectonophysics, and Near-Surface Geophysics Joint Early Career/Student Networking Luncheon with the theme Considering transitions and challenges in career paths in academia, industry, and government.

The Transitions Lightning Talks provide an opportunity for participants to promote their research and promote their poster.

SCEC2022 also returned to in-person Transitions Lightning Talks. A favorite of the SCEC community, this year showcased 40 presentations over two days. Lightning Talks increase visibility of student and early career participants, and offer opportunities to promote research and improve science communication skills. 

With reduced travel restrictions, SCEC is once again offering Research Travel Awards with six travel awards so far this year. Research travel Awards support students and early career researchers to attend conferences that might otherwise be out of their financial reach, to build their professional profile and network. To learn more and apply visit www.scec.org/elca/awards.

We want to hear from you! Launched in 2022, the SCEC Community Survey will help gauge overall participation in, and satisfaction with, SCEC programs, with a focus on students and early career researchers. Survey results will guide future activities, and will help us to understand what drives community participation and how effectively we have applied SCEC resources, research, and technology for this purpose. To complement the survey, earlier this year we met with stakeholder focus groups (group 1- early career researchers; group 2- underrepresented groups) to add and deepen the knowledge gained from the Community survey and include a more detailed assessment of SCEC programs and their contents to determine how well they are addressing the stakeholder needs. If you have not completed the 2022 survey, you will receive an email in the coming days with a request to do so. Please take a few minutes to tell us about your experiences with SCEC!

About the Author

Gabriela Noriega is the Director of Experiential Learning and Career Advancement at SCEC, where she leads education and career development initiatives to provide early-career scientists and students with resources and mentoring across key career transitions. Dr. Noriega also supports the coordination of public-private partnerships that work together to improve earthquake preparedness, mitigation, and resilience.