The Geology Discipline at Morris strongly advocates undergraduate research. Students are actively involved in research programs conducted by the faculty and are invited to create their own projects. The Discipline has abundant laboratory and field equipment (petrographic microscopes, Brunton compasses, hand-held GPS units); a research-grade Nikon petrographic microscope with digital imaging capability; a complete rock-cutting and thin-sectioning lab; mineral separation equipment including a jaw crusher, pulverizer, and Frantz magnetic separator; and a Trimble LS4600 Differential (survey grade) GPS unit. An in-house map and graphics laboratory features both Mac and PC computers supporting the latest graphics, analytical, and GIS software, along with large–format scanners and printers. The Discipline is currently pursuing the acquisition of a new Rigaku Multiflex X–ray diffraction unit for mineral analysis. All equipment is available for student use in their projects.
Morris Geology majors have completed an impressive array of independent research projects ranging from laboratory investigations to computer modeling to field studies. With the encouragement of the faculty and financial support from the Division of Science and Mathematics, geology students have presented their findings at regional, national, and international meetings, including the Geological Society of America (GSA), American Geophysical Union (AGU), International Glaciological Society (IGS), Institute for Lake Superior Geology, National Council of Undergraduate Research, and Minnesota Academy of Sciences (MAS). Moreover, a number of students are co-authors of papers published in professional journals.
Recent research projects undertaken by UMM geology students include:
- Age, kinematic evolution, and tectonic significance of the Grizzly Creek shear zone, western Colorado
- Improvement of an empirical model of snow and ice melt on Rabots Glaciar, Sweden
- In search of the Younger Dryas cooling interval using weathering rind thicknesses, Sawatch Range, Colorado
- Rock glaciers in southwestern Colorado as indicators of late Holocene climate change: A lichenometric study
Financial support for student research is available through several venues. University funding opportunities are consolidated by the Academic Center for Enrichment (ACE). One example is the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP), a University-wide program which provides academically talented students the opportunity to earn up to $1,400 assisting faculty with scholarly and creative projects. Another, the Morris Academic Partners program (MAP), is unique to the Morris campus and provides paid research partnerships to academically talented, qualified third-year students. The standard stipend is $2,000. The Multi-Ethnic Mentorship Program (MMP) affords students of color the opportunity to receive a $2,000 stipend for working with faculty or staff on year-long projects.
Student work at Morris has also been funded by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) and the Community Assistance Program (CAP). Faculty research funding obtained independently via grants or from other awards may also create paid positions for students to assist in research projects.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) funding interface provides a wealth of grant possibilities to help undergraduate students pursue independent research, or to assist with ongoing research projects as an intern or paid assistant. The Keck Geology Consortium Summer Research Program and the Institute for Lake Superior Geology Student Research Fund also fund student research.