Adriana E. Martinez, PhD, associate professor in the College of Arts and Science rafting near Mexican Hat. Photo by Sarah Praskievicz.

EDWARDSVILLE – Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Adriana E. Martinez, PhD, associate professor in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Departments of Geography and Geographic Information Sciences and Environmental Sciences, participated in the River-based ImmersiVe Education & Research (RIVER) Field Studies Network river rendezvous this summer along the San Juan River in southern Utah.

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“The RIVER Rendezvous was a great opportunity to further develop my skills regarding field education,” Martinez said. “I developed and tested a field lesson on how logjams influence channel dynamics and macroinvertebrate habitat and learned the workings behind organizing a river trip focused on inclusion.”

The RIVER Field Studies Network is designed to strengthen undergraduate education in and around rivers by creating a network of educators who develop field lessons throughout the year, practice those lessons in the field with students, and participate in a multi-day river trip to learn how to logistically organize similar trips at their home institutions.

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The trip included a trip to Flagstaff and the University of Northern Arizona where River Scholars gathered and then headed north to southern Utah where they participated on a five-day raft trip down the upper portion of the San Juan River. River scholars learned how to pack equipment and food, river safety, and various opportunities for education on similar trips. The scholars then visited Oak Creek, Ariz., where they tested a variety of field lessons ranging from fish surveys to sediment sampling. The lessons will ultimately be available on QUBES, a virtual space that houses a variety of open access STEM lessons.

Through this program, Martinez plans to bring back lessons and opportunities for field experiences for SIUE students.

“Studies show that field experiences play a huge role in a student’s sense of identity in science, the geosciences, and STEM disciplines overall,” continued Martinez. “SIUE has a great opportunity to develop more field experiences for students, especially in geography and environmental sciences. I hope to advocate for more student opportunities through grants and courses so that SIUE gives students the same opportunities as bigger universities.”

The RIVER Field Studies Network is a National Science Foundation funded grant through the Directorate for Biological Sciences, Division of Biological Infrastructure, and the Directorate for Education and Human Resources, Division of Undergraduate Education.

Central to SIUE’s exceptional and comprehensive education, the College of Arts and Sciences offers degree programs in the natural sciences, humanities, arts, social sciences and communications. The College touches the lives of all SIUE students, helping them explore diverse ideas and experiences, while learning to think and live as fulfilled, productive members of the global community. Study abroad, service-learning, internships and other experiential learning opportunities better prepare SIUE students not only to succeed in our region’s workplaces, but also to become valuable leaders who make important contributions to our communities.

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