June 20, 2013 by Dr. G
Today I traveled to Orange, California, for the start of the CUR Business Meeting, and then will stay here at Chapman University for the CUR Windows of Opportunity Undergraduate Research Program Directors Meeting. OK, was that too much to put in one sentence? I was not able to get a pre-trip post up for these back-to-back meetings, so I’ll start with this “travel day” post, then add another post about the actual meeting activities which start in just a couple of hours.
Let’s back up and define CUR. CUR stands for the Council on Undergraduate Research, a national organization whose mission it is “to support and promote high-quality undergraduate student-faculty collaborative research and scholarship.” CUR began with science faculty divided by discipline but now includes divisions such as the Social Sciences and Arts and Humanities. Guess which division I am a part of? Yes, it is the Geosciences, an amazing group of faculty that I was first introduced to when I was in graduate school. The GeoCUR Division holds workshops at national conferences of other organizations, such as the Geological Society of America and American Geophysical Union. I enrolled in two of GeoCUR’s workshops while I was still a graduate student because I knew I wanted to supervise undergraduate students in research projects, and I wanted to be as prepared as I could be before I started my first faculty position.
That is the amazing part of CUR – it is faculty-mentoring-faculty, all to improve the undergraduate research process and experience for faculty and students. CUR frequently refers to itself as a grassroots organization. I know students will typically think of something being a “grassroots” effort being connected to social justice issues or the environment. But the concept applies here – CUR is a group of volunteers engaged in advancing a mission, helping other faculty engage in the best mentoring practices with their own students. Notice I used the term “volunteer”? That was intentional – we do not get paid to attend CUR conferences or to do this work, we do this because we want to.
I started as a CUR member in graduate school, became an elected councilor in the Geoscience Division 2003 (a position I still hold today), served as Chair of the Division from 2008-2010, and I assist CUR in helping lead workshops for faculty and co-chair the GeoCUR Undergraduate Research Mentor Award Committee. Why do I do this work? I have learned so much from CUR since I first joined, and the organization and its members have helped me develop and grow as a faculty member and research mentor. GeoCUR people have played a significant role in my professional development, and now, I want to give back and do the same for others. Hands-down, CUR is probably one of the most, if not THE most, important professional network I am a part of.
Each year, CUR holds a Business Meeting in June where all of the elected councilors come together to do – you guessed it – the business of the organization. The GeoCUR Division is currently led by Patricia Manley, a professor of geology at Middlebury College, and an excellent colleague and friend. The Business Meeting is always held on a college campus, where most of us councilors stay in the dorms and meet in campus classrooms and auditoriums. This year’s Business Meeting is at Chapman University in Orange, California. I’ll certainly be reporting more over the next couple of days what we’ll be doing, so stay tuned!
Chapman University is beautiful! I arrived at LAX this morning and took Super Shuttle down to Orange, after the shuttle dropped several people off at hotels at Disneyland (so close, but no Space Mountain for me – this time!). I’ve had a little time to walk around, connect with other councilors in small conversations, and I grabbed THE BEST late lunch at a restaurant called Bruxie, where everything is served on a waffle! This place needs to be featured on The Food Network, if it hasn’t been already.
I know my big roles and contributions at this meeting is to lead a discussion on the GeoCUR Mentoring Award, and to discuss the GeoCUR website which I maintain but is in desperate need of some upgrading. So… let the meeting begin!