Research Experience For Undergraduates (REU)

Field and Laboratory Research on Glacial Sedimentology in Brazil & Surficial Geology of West Central Minnesota for Native American Women.



The University of Minnesota, Morris REU is an undergraduate research program for Native American women geology majors. The program, designed to encourage Native American women to continue on in Geology, is part of a comparative research effort to determine: the origin and history of surficial deposits in west central Minnesota and the late Paleozoic glacial units of Brazil (the Itarare subgroup). The Morris REU program includes 14 days of field research in Brazil. Research activities will be founded upon a long-running REU program based at Morris and a long-established collaborative research effort by Morris and Universidade de Sao Paulo (USP) faculty and students.


The goal of the Morris REU program is to develop time-constrained models for two very different proposed paleo-ice streams. REU participants will study glacial deposits of the Late Paleozoic Paraná lobe of Brazil and Late Pleistocene age Des Moines lobe of Minnesota. Detailed mapping of landforms, sediment analysis and the analysis of subglacial bedforms will provide a greater understanding of the movement and the causes of rapid ice stream flow. The role of ice streams in the mass balance of ice sheets is of critical importance (approximately 90% of all discharge of the Antarctic ice sheet is by ice streams), yet a great deal is unknown. This research will focus on: the influence of climate on ice stream movement, the significance of marine interaction and ice sheet grounding, and the nature of ice stream flow (sliding vs. deformation). Uniquely, participants have an opportunity to research ice streams in two very different geologic contexts: in Minnesota they will study surficial geology and unconsolidated sands and gravels while in Brazil they will study stratigraphy and sedimentary rocks.

The Morris REU program will also nurture the development of 16 Native American women geology majors over two summers in both an international setting and in an environment where women and Native Americans are in the majority. Native American women are extremely underrepresented in the Geosciences. The Morris REU program has components designed specifically to remedy this situation by providing peer support, developing participant confidence and introducing participants to supportive role models. Morris REU students will participate in a seminar component of the program where they will examine pathways to “thinking like a geologist,” issues in scientific ethics, meet professional women geoscientists, and begin planning future academic and scientific careers. Participants will give a professional talk and lead a field trip. This program will build confidence and aid in the maturation of these Native American women as scientists and individuals.

The Morris REU program is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundations Research Experience for Undergraduates Program (NSF-EAR-1262945).