Summer research program boosts confidence, shapes careers

CZO REUs and RETs in the field

CZO interns dive right into field work during program orientation

“Hydrosphere! Lithosphere! Atmosphere! Biosphere!” students and teachers shouted during orientation for this summer’s Critical Zone Observatory (CZO) Research Experience for Undergraduates and Teachers (REU/RET). As a means to understand each day’s lessons, interns were asked to connect each of Earth’s four spheres to understand what the Critical Zone is all about.

The Critical Zone, loosely described as where rock meets life, extends from the tops of trees into the depths of groundwater.

A Nine-Week Journey

For nine weeks, 12 undergraduates and four teachers from across the United States embarked on a journey to study the Critical Zone and immerse themselves in science and research at the Christina River basin CZO site with Stroud Water Research Center and at the Susquehanna Shale Hills CZO site with Penn State University.

“We had an incredible group of very motivated and enthusiastic students and teachers this year,” said Tara Muenz, education programs manager for Stroud Center and the REU/RET program coordinator.