Hearts of GOLD Project


The goal of Hearts of GOLD is to help leaders in geosciences become champions for diversity. Many of the most established geoscientists have histories of promoting and mentoring colleagues and students from underrepresented groups, but they rarely are outspoken about this practice because their expertise and experiences are not related to diversity. This project will bring together those giants in the field in an effort to teach them the tools and skills needed to become champions for diversity in the greater interest of the geosciences.

Hearts of GOLD website


Project Staff


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P. Grady Dixon

co-PI of the Hearts of GOLD Project

Fort Hays State University

Grady Dixon is a physical geographer and meteorologist (Ph.D. Arizona State University; M.S. University of Georgia; B.S. Mississippi State University) who studies interactions between humans and weather. This includes weather hazards like tornadoes, but also biometeorology topics such as weather-suicide associations, weather effects on wildlife, and temperature effects on human mortality. He has a history of mentoring students and faculty from underrepresented groups, but GOLD is his first project devoted specifically to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

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Kathy Quardokus Fisher

co-PI of the Hearts of GOLD Project

Florida International University

Kathy Quardokus Fisher is an assistant professor of Discipline-based education research in Atmospheric Science at Florida International University in the Department of Earth & Environment and the STEM Transformation Institute. Her research interests include the teaching and learning of atmospheric science, including issues of diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as organizational change in higher education.

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Eric K. Kaufman

co-PI of the Hearts of GOLD Project

Virginia Tech

Eric K. Kaufman is an associate professor and Extension specialist in Virginia Tech’s Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education, where he coordinates a graduate certificate program in Collaborative Community Leadership and supports an undergraduate minor Leadership and Social Change. Eric’s research interests center around shared leadership in community and volunteer settings.

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LaToya Myles

co-PI of the Hearts of GOLD Project

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Dr. LaToya Myles coordinates and supports research and development programs as deputy director of the NOAA Air Resources Laboratory Atmospheric Turbulence and Diffusion Division in Oak Ridge, TN. She also conducts scientific studies to improve understanding of the emission, transformation, transport, and fate of atmospheric nitrogen and identify potential environment impacts. The Mississippi native is a magna cum laude graduate of Alcorn State University with a B.S. in chemistry and a B.S. in biology and has a Ph.D. in environmental sciences from Florida A&M University. She is a former fellow of the NOAA Educational Partnership Program Graduate Sciences Program and the U.S. EPA Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Program. Through numerous professional and community organizations, she advocates for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education and mentors students who represent the next generation of scientists.

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Denise R. Simmons

co-PI of the Hearts of GOLD Project

Virginia Tech

Denise R. Simmons, Ph.D., PE, LEED-AP, is an assistant professor in the Myers-Lawson School of Construction and in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, and an affiliate faculty of the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. She holds a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in civil engineering and a graduate certificate in engineering education – all from Clemson University. She has over 14 years of experience working for energy companies and as a project management consultant. Her research contributes to the advancement of labor and personnel issues in engineering broadly and specifically in the construction industry through two research areas: untangling the complex relationship between activities people become involved in — operationalized as engagement — and the technical and professional outcomes gained — operationalized as competencies. The broader impact of this work lies in achieving and sustaining productive, diverse and inclusive project organizations composed of engaged, competent people. Dr. Simmons’ research is supported by awards from NSF, including a CAREER award. She oversees the Simmons Research Lab, which is home to a dynamic, interdisciplinary mix of undergraduate and graduate students and a post-doctoral researcher from various colleges and departments at Virginia Tech who work together to explore engineering and construction human centered issues with an emphasis on understanding difference and disparity.

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Carolyn Brinkworth

co-PI of the FIELD 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 17 Nov 2017 - 12:09pm