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Incorporating undergraduate research in the curriculum; using local stratigraphy as a resource for a project-based undergraduate sedimentology/ stratigraphy laboratory



Incorporating undergraduate research in the curriculum; using local stratigraphy as a resource for a project-based undergraduate sedimentology/ stratigraphy laboratory



Abstracts with Programs - Geological Society of America 37(6): 38



Southern Utah University is ideally situated to utilize classic southwestern United States stratigraphic sequences because it is located in the Colorado Plateaus to Basin and Range transition zone. Using nearby field exposures, project-based activities have become an integral portion of our curriculum. To take full advantage of our location and the opportunities available, we require all junior/senior level sedimentology/stratigraphy students to complete an independent research project as part of the laboratory accompanying the course. Each student must select a local rock unit and conduct an in-depth stratigraphic/sedimentological study under the guidance of the professor, who typically will visit the field site two or three times. The study includes gathering basic stratigraphic/sedimentological information in the field, preparing the data for analysis and presentation, and interpreting the sedimentological environment of the study section. The results of these independent research projects are initially presented to peers and department faculty members in a presenter-friendly environment within the department. The next level of presentation is a campus-wide student and faculty scholarship venue that is more rigorous. The best projects are typically presented at the state academy of science or regional professional meetings. These independent projects, utilizing local stratigraphic units located within a few miles of our campus, have provided a direct application of the sedimentology/stratigraphy curriculum to real problems, a first research experience, and excellent preparation of upper level students for future field studies. They have also provided our students with a direct link to the required capstone field camp and senior thesis projects.

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