Dr. Hamidreza Norouzi, Director of Undergraduate Research and Professor in the Department of Construction Management and Civil Engineering, and Dr. Reginald Blake, Interim Associate Provost and Dean of Curriculum and Research, at the New York City College of Technology (CityTech) were part of an over $7.3M NSF grant in collaboration with Columbia University with more than $1M received by CityTech. The Columbia PIs are Dr. Vicki Ferrini, Dr. Robin E. Bell, and Dr. Valerie Purdie Greenaway.

Project Description:
The Implementation Grant: Implementing Novel Solutions for Promoting Cultural Change In Geoscience Research & Education (INSPIRE) program is designed to deliver a multi-faceted solution for transforming culture, shifting power, and authentically engaging underserved communities. INSPIRE will foster a just, equitable, and inclusive geoscience research community that reflects the diversity of the nation and is committed to developing a diverse workforce with skills and knowledge about Earth system science. Central to INSPIRE’s approach for geoscience cultural change is a power structure inversion. This seismic power shift is based on cultivating genuine URM leadership at MSIs supported by authentic partnerships with research institutions and with underserved communities, in contrast to the model of large research institutions seeking to diversify through poaching. INSPIRE will prioritize empowering rising generations of URM students and researchers to become leaders in geoscience/climate research and solutions. Co-design that includes populations in impacted, but often underserved communities, will be at the forefront of this new paradigm to foster multi-directional listening and knowledge transfer. INSPIRE brings together two institutions committed to change in geoscience culture. New York City College of Technology (City Tech), an Hispanic-Serving Institution, and the designated senior college of technology within the 25 campus City University of New York (CUNY), has rich connections with underserved communities in New York. Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) of Columbia University, central to the newly formed Columbia Climate School (CCS), has a long history of geoscience research excellence and successful diversity initiatives. The program will ensure the emerging CCS is founded on a modern, diverse, equitable, and accessible research education ecosystem that promotes geoscience and serves the needs of all communities. INSPIRE will directly engage and support two cohort populations of future geoscience leaders at the transition points where they are often lost: prior to graduate school and prior to tenure. INSPIRE will empower 14 Visiting Fellows (early career faculty/researchers at MSIs) to co-develop and lead community-focused geoscience research and initiatives through their home institutions with collaborative support from – and partnerships with – Columbia University scientists. INSPIRE will support and train 16 Bridge Scholars (post-baccalaureates) through a climate-focused Bridge to PhD program that will include participation in research co-design and the launch of an evidence-based self-affirmation component called the Armor Project. Through mentoring, professional development, and leadership of co-design efforts, these two cohorts, together with their mentors and host/collaborators, will become agents of change, and will propagate aspects of this new paradigm into multiple institutions. INSPIRE’s research education ecosystem will provide opportunities and inspiration for URM students to pursue graduate school and/or careers in the geosciences, and will align their training with the co-design of community-based geoscience research projects led by INSPIRE Visiting Fellows. The LDEO geoscience community will engage in coordinated action of mentoring and collaboration in support of these targeted cohorts, contributing their research expertise to driving cultural change that will strengthen the geosciences.

City Tech Involvement:
City Tech team will be responsible for implementation of the community engagement activities including recruiting and overseeing a community liaison, pedagogical consultant activities, summer program with high school teachers and students, and organizing professional development activities for high school teachers during academic year and summer. Dr. Norouzi will co-lead the Bridge Scholars cohort, and Dr. Blake will co-lead the Visiting Fellows cohort in coordination with the lead PI at Columbia University, Dr. Ferrini.