Environmental concerns are a motivating factor for a lot of student researchers who study earth science.
But not all of them get to speak to Congress about it.
Dorian DeHart, Masters of Geology student at Missouri State University, had a one-of-a-kind opportunity to discuss geopolicy and environmental issues, and advocate for the importance of geoscience funding with U.S. Congress members.
“I’m very thankful to have had this opportunity to represent Missouri State, geoscience on the national level and to truly make a difference to advance science, our country and our communities,” DeHart said.
Conversations with Congress
As a member of the Geological Society of America , this trip was not a solo one – DeHart was selected along with graduate students and PhD professional scientists around the country.
He represented the states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio and Wisconsin.
“While representing our specific sections, we discussed our issues, solutions and the importance of geoscience funding, education and research for a better economical, successful and sustainable future,” DeHart said.
During a visit to the American Geophysical Union headquarters, topics of conversation included the current state of funding for the upcoming year’s appropriation bills.
But with the government officials, the biggest conversation points were artificial intelligence and critical minerals.
“Artificial intelligence has been growing exponentially in various research fields as a tool to provide better results, solve complex problems and benefit everyday life, while the importance of critical minerals has been growing due to their value as natural resources,” DeHart said.
“These two are very important frontiers, especially for geoscience because billions of dollars are dedicated toward geoscience, including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the United States Geological Survey and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.”
A stream of opportunities
While in D.C., DeHart also presented his research to the members of Congress.
“I’m using a $418,000 grant from the United States Army Corps of Engineers to conduct comprehensive research of streams and rivers to quantify their stability and erosion rates,” he said. “This uses a lot of fieldwork, computer data processing and even remote sensing methods such as drones. This research has tons of applications for many different fields of science.”
DeHart said his presentations were well received, noting many of the politicians support the advancement of geoscience.
“I’ve invited many Senate members, House representatives and their staff to visit MSU where I can give them a tour of our research labs and showcase the new innovative and current research taking place at our institution,” DeHart added. “I plan to keep in contact with them to prioritize geoscience funding to benefit research organizations, education and communication of geoscience.”