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Monday, October 21, 2019

Geography and Atmospheric Science Doctoral Student Mentors HERS Students

Katie Grote
     Katie Grote thoroughly enjoyed her role as a 2018 and 2019 Haskell Environmental Research Studies (HERS) Institute mentor. She views the HERS program as "a wonderful opportunity for undergraduate Indigenous students because it provides an underrepresented population a chance to strengthen their passion for research while also allowing them the prospect of helping their communities." The HERS Institute is a workforce development and education initiative supported by the Kansas NSF EPSCoR RII Track-1 Award OIA-1656006: Microbiomes of Aquatic, Plant, and Soil Systems across Kansas (MAPS) and is directed by Dr. Jay Johnson, Professor and Associate Chair of Geography & Atmospheric Science, the Director of The Center for Indigenous Research, Science, and Technology (C-FIRST) at the University of Kansas (KU), and member of the MAPS workforce development and education team. The institute is an 8-week paid summer internship program where undergraduate student interns spend 6 weeks on the Haskell Indian Nations University campus during June and July. As part of the program, students learn about climate change and develop individual research projects.
Katie assists a HERS student with her research
     Katie's responsibilities as a HERS mentor were to “aid the interns in their research projects. This included brainstorming topics, helping them find scholarly articles, making sure that their research goals were realistic and manageable, helping with poster design, giving advice about graduate school, and providing any other support they may need.” She said her favorite part of the experience was working with the students on their projects and learning "so much about different cultures and the issues that many communities face." Plus, she added, "I was repeatedly inspired by their passion to do good.”
     Currently, Katie is a first-year doctoral student in Geography and Atmospheric Science at KU, and Dr. Johnson is her adviser. When asked why she was interested in geography, she explained “Contrary to what most people believe, geography is about more than memorizing capitals. Cultural geography combines history, language, religion, and environment of cultures, although it is ultimately rooted in place.” She added, “I became interested in geography because it allowed me to explore new worlds and celebrate diversity.”
     Katie is from Aberdeen, South Dakota, and after graduating Magna Cum Laude in 2016 from Northern State University (NSU) in Aberdeen with a double major in history and English as well as minors in geography and professional writing, she decided to pursue a master’s degree in Geography and Atmospheric Science at KU. Her master's thesis was titled Pipelines, Protectors, and a Sense of Place: Media Representations of the Dakota Access Pipeline Protest. Katie described her master's research as follows, “I conducted a content and textual analysis of news reports of the recent Dakota Access Pipeline protests in North Dakota.” As for her doctoral research, she continued, “I am focusing on environmental regulation and policy in the United States and how it considers Indigenous populations as well as how environmental impact assessments for development projects consider, include, and impact Indigenous populations in the United States. Through comparative case studies, I will identify patterns of success and inadequacy in environmental assessments regarding Indigenous populations. I aim to provide preliminary guidance for more adequate representation and a greater understanding of Indigenous cultures and world views by incorporating Indigenous methodologies.”
    As an undergraduate at NSU, Katie was very involved with the honors program and completed an honors thesis. She also had the opportunity to attend the 2015 National Collegiate Honors Conference. In addition, Katie worked as a tutor, a library reference assistant and was the editor of the university news publication, The Exponent. During her senior year, she received the NSU Student Employee of the Year award. As a graduate student at KU, she has worked as a teaching assistant for introductory physical, world regional, and human geography courses. Katie is also involved with GIS Day at KU and is a member of the Geography and Atmospheric Science (G/AS) Graduate Student Organization. Furthermore, the Geography and Atmospheric Science faculty awarded her a Graduate Fellowship for the 2019-2020 academic year. Katie will continue working for the HERS program in the summer of 2020 as the HERS Curriculum Coordinator.
      When asked about her future plans, Katie said, “After I receive my doctorate, I plan to pursue a career in academia, so I can continue my research and teach at the collegiate level. I also hope to work with Indigenous students in support of their educational, professional, and personal goals.”

Workforce Development, Education and Outreach funding for the HERS Institute is provided by the Kansas NSF EPSCoR RII Track-1 Award OIA-1656006 titled: Microbiomes of Aquatic, Plant, and Soil Systems across Kansas. The grant's workforce development and educational objectives are designed to enhance STEM education in Kansas by supporting activities that will lead to an expanded STEM workforce or prepare a new generation for STEM careers in the areas of aquatic, plant and soil microbiome environments and ecological systems.