The Institute endeavors to work with departments to hire faculty in growing areas of mutual interest and also develops initiatives or centers that focus on compelling scientific, social, and engineering issues and problems that require the expertise of more than a single research discipline. The expertise and strengths of academic departments in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences generally provide the foundation for these interdisciplinary initiatives and centers. The resources of the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute are designed to create added opportunities for faculty and students and to act as a catalyst for innovative, collaborative research.
The Institute provides high-quality support services through its budget and grant specialist personnel, graduate student recruiting through its Environmental Scholars program, and outreach through two of its centers, the Center for Environmental Informatics and the Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research. Proposal development, team and center coordination, publicity for science, social networking, workshop or conference support, and general management assistance are available to Institute faculty as well. The EESI suite of offices and meeting rooms are also available to EESI associates for development of projects, initiatives, conferences, or similar activities. Associates can contact Micki Bower to sign up. EESI faculty are also encouraged to run seminar series as part of EESI’s EarthTalks.
EarthTalks is the premier seminar series run by EESI for EMS faculty and students. The series runs on an occasional basis, varying from a few seminars per semester to a complete semester of speakers. Talks are Monday at 4 p.m. in 112 Walker Building, and all talks are recorded and archived on the web. Each set of EarthTalks is built around a theme of interest to EESI faculty. Any EESI associate can propose an EarthTalks seminar series and upon approval can use up to $10,000 to run the series. Each proposal must include a title, a committee of organizers, a list of proposed invitees with tentative titles, and a proposed budget.
Through its projects, ongoing activities, and collaborative linkages, the Institute supports students interested in Earth science and environmental research. Students gain valuable experience working as research assistants on Institute projects; often, the research performed for a funded project is part of their thesis or dissertation project and results in co-authored publications. The Institute also offers funding for interdisciplinary research through the Marilyn L. Fogel Student Research Fund in Biogeosciences. Funding is awarded on a competitive basis by nomination. Through their work on Institute projects, students also have opportunities to network, or make professional contacts that guide them as they make career decisions and look for employment. The Institute contributes to the College of Earth and Mineral Science’s broader educational mission by sponsoring speakers, seminar series, and other events in cooperation with other Penn State units. Each year EESI also works with EESI faculty associates to recruit new students to join graduate programs in EMS as EESI Environmental Scholars. These scholars receive a recruitment bonus and are invited to all EESI functions.