GeoDES Project

This proposal uses principles from social cognitive theory and social closure theory to provide professional development for a cohort of geoscientists to 1) increase their knowledge of prejudice and social justice issues relevant to the geosciences; 2) engage in bystander intervention techniques using interactive, mixed reality, simulations to learn how to counteract prejudice; 3) develop their leadership skills to target critical gatekeeping decisions as a strategy to transform their own home institutions; and 4) support their continued development into champions for diversity, equity, and inclusion. These goals are achieved through a number of phases, beginning with a 3-day intensive workshop that teaches and challenges participants to think critically about race, gender, sexual and gender identity, and ability, and develops leadership techniques and skills. The workshop will culminate in bystander intervention training using innovative mixed reality role-play scenarios developed in collaboration with Mursion, Inc. The institutional cohort members we recruit will continue to meet for a monthly journal club over video conferencing, where recent articles and papers that address equity, inclusion, and leadership are discussed as a group. We will also discuss how participants can apply what they have learned to their specific institutions. Measured outcomes include pre-post changes in attitudes toward diversity; content knowledge in equity, inclusion, and leadership techniques; likelihood of intervening in problematic situations; and a social network analysis to explore the participants' spread of influence.


Project Staff

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Brentt Brown

co-PI of the GeoDES Project

Mursion, Inc.

Brentt is responsible for helping Mursion expand its ground-breaking virtual reality training platform to new verticals, secure partnerships to fund R&D efforts, and help raise awareness about the power of virtual simulation for occupations that require complex interpersonal skills. Prior to joining Mursion, Brentt was the Director of Innovation at Pivot Learning Partners, a large professional learning and coaching organization in California. In this role, Brentt was responsible for leading teams of experienced subject matter experts in designing, piloting and taking to scale new professional learning programs. Brentt has a Master’s in Public Policy from the University of California Berkeley.

Brentt is leading Mursion's team to design and deliver simulations for the project that will give learners a safe place practice essential D&I skills in scenarios learners find true-to-life.

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Jason A. Chen

co-PI of the GeoDES Project

The College of William & Mary

Jason A. Chen is an Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology at the William & Mary School of Education. The questions that drive his research have to do with the variety of ways that innovative technologies can be used as a tool for learning, motivation, and engagement. Rather than assuming that technology is inherently motivating for students (it's not!), Jason is interested in understanding the types of technologies that can be used to support peoples' developing interests in science, and their confidence in being able to succeed in STEM fields. Recently, Jason has also been interested in how immersive virtual environments can also serve as motivational and teaching tools for individuals to disrupt pernicious prejudices that impede efforts to diversify our STEM classrooms and fields of study.

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Heather Houlton

co-PI of the GeoDES Project

American Geosciences Institute

Heather Houlton is a science education researcher at the American Geosciences Institute holding her Master’s degree in Geology from Purdue University.  Her research specializes in the student-to-professional transition and workforce development, including bolstering participation of underrepresented groups in the geosciences.  She has been the PI on two NSF grants; the first was hosting a PD workshop for traditionally underrepresented geoscientists pursuing academic careers. The second grant was investigating non-PhD preparatory Master’s degree programs and student preparation for non-academic careers in the geosciences. She was also the PI on an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation grant dedicated to increasing diversity within the Deep Carbon Observatory Community. In addition to these projects, she is the scholarship coordinator for AGI’s diversity scholarships.

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Jerlando F. L. Jackson

co-PI of the GeoDES Project

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Jerlando F. L. Jackson is the Vilas Distinguished Professor of Higher Education and the Director and Chief Research Scientist of Wisconsin’s Equity and Inclusion Laboratory (Wei LAB) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His central research interest is organizational science in higher education, with a special interest in hiring practices, career mobility, workforce diversity, and workplace discrimination. He also has a portfolio of research focused on interventions designed to broaden participation for underrepresented groups in the scientific workforce.

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Justin Byron Richardson

co-PI of the GeoDES Project

Cornell University

Justin Richardson recently completed a postdoc at Cornell University and has started as an Assistant Professor of Geosciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His research focuses on the biogeochemistry of inorganic elements in the Critical Zone, the region from the tree tops down to groundwater. Since his PhD work at Dartmouth College, Justin has worked on tackling diversity issues in STEM, with a particular focus on Geoscience. His role in GeoDES included connecting researching with women and underrepresented minorities across the geoscience discipline. In addition, he has created content from personal experiences and interviews of other geoscientists to explore implicit biases in the workplace and hiring environment.

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Andy Sarouhan

co-PI of the GeoDES Project

Mursion, Inc.

Andy Sarouhan is a Simulation Specialist and Trainer with Mursion. Outside the office, Andy is a professional improviser and improv coach in San Francisco. He holds a BA in Theatre from UC San Diego and MFA in Creative Writing from UC Riverside. Andy is the project manager, coordinating the conversations among professors and content experts to develop the simulation scenarios, and training Mursion actors to deliver the avatar-driven simulations.

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Brian J. Teppen

co-PI of the GeoDES Project

Michigan State University

Brian J. Teppen is a Professor of soil chemistry in the Department of Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Michigan State. His areas of expertise and interest include soil mineralogy, computational chemistry, the surface structures of environmental particles, and the speciation, sorption, bioavailability, and fate of chemicals in soils. Teppen also studies diversity as a factor in research group effectiveness and impact, and is currently supported by NSF on this GeoDES project to increase diversity in the geosciences. He actively serves at both departmental and college levels to help Michigan State become more diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

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Carolyn Brinkworth

co-PI of the GeoDES Project


Carolyn Brinkworth is the Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer for the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), based in Boulder, CO. Carolyn holds a PhD in Astrophysics and a MA in Education, is on three of the GOLD project teams, and is PI on a funded NSF INCLUDES program bringing together indigenous communities and Western scientists to conduct research projects that address issues of mutual concern around climate change and severe weather events. Carolyn serves on the AGU Task Force for Diversity and Inclusion, on the AMS Board of Women and Minorities, and on the AURA Workforce and Diversity Committee.

This page last updated 11 Dec 2017 - 3:50pm