Geoscience is one of the least diverse disciplines in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). This program will apply scientifically ratified best practices to Provide Educational Access to Research & Learning in geocienceS (PEARLS) for non-traditional geoscience majors, women, under-served, and underrepresented minorities (URM). The work will increase the awareness and access to the geosciences and will develop a diverse, globally competitive STEM workforce. The project will engage students in the geosciences through extracurricular experiences and training. The project provides a geoscience learning ecosystem with integrated experiences at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) to help undergraduate upperclassmen from non-traditional geoscience majors and master's degree-seeking students transition into geosciences and engage in geoscience studies. The experiences will help students matriculate more successfully in geoscience graduate programs and the geoscience workplace. 


Testudo Pearls

AGNR 320: Introduction to Geoscience
Instructors: Akua Asa-Awuku and Candice Duncan
When: Fridays 11:00am - 12:15pm


PEARLS Cohort Application


This project will create catalytic experiences for students to engage in interdisciplinary geoscience work.

Contact: nsf_pearls@umd.edu

Project Faculty

Dr. Candice Duncan

Dr. Candice Duncan

Dr. Candice Duncan is an Assistant Professor with the University of Maryland’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. She earned her Ph.D. in Environmental Science from the University of Arizona in 2014. Her main areas of geoscience research are Environmental/Soil Science and hydrology.  Dr. Duncan's work focuses on the transport and characterization of organic and inorganic contaminants in the subsurface. 

Dr. Ebony Terrell Shockley

Ebony Terrell Shockley

Dr. Ebony Terrell Shockley, executive director of Teacher Education and associate clinical professor with the University of Maryland’s College of Education. She earned her Ph.D. in Minority and Urban Education from the University of Maryland College Park in 2012. Her main area of research is in the academic experiences of under-represented groups in STEM fields. Most of her work lies in seeking and investigating equitable experiences and outcomes in science communities for marginalized students.

Dr. Akua Asa-Awuku

Dr. Akua Asa-Awuku

Dr. Akua Asa-Awuku is a chemical engineering professor with the University of Maryland’s A. James Clark School of Engineering. Dr. Asa-Awuka earned her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2008. Her main areas of geoscience research are in atmospheric chemistry and air quality.  A considerable focus of her work has investigated aerosol emissions from the combustion of biomass, gasoline, diesel and alternative fuels sources.

Learning Objectives

This project will create catalytic experiences for students to engage in interdisciplinary geoscience work. The learning design is composed of three critical objectives. The PIs will i) create a mentorship program that includes a life-long learning enrichment program culminating in nationally recognized certification and/or apprenticeship with academics, as well as with and the state and local governments. ii) design and test bridge programs to help post-undergraduate students from non-geoscience fields transition into geoscience graduate programs and iii) foster career-aligned collaborations between academia and the local private sector or state/local government sector that facilitate transitions between undergraduate/graduate programs and the geoscience workforce. The proposed learning ecosystem model offers three distinct pathways to enhance technical expertise and knowledge of non-traditional geoscience majors in virtual and in-person platforms. The technical knowledge and promotion of growth is supported by a vertically tiered mentor network.


PEARLS flyer

Participating Agencies

US Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park campus (USEPA RTP)
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Department of Energy's Office of Science, Brookhaven National Laboratory (DOE BNL)
US Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Services (USDA/ARS)