Nyblade recognized with 2017 President’s Award for academic integration

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Andrew Nyblade, professor of geosciences in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, has been awarded the 2017 President’s Award for Excellence in Academic Integration.

The award is given to a full-time faculty member who has exhibited extraordinary achievement in the integration of teaching, research or creative accomplishment and service.

Nyblade’s efforts through AfricaArray, an initiative he co-founded in 2005, has led to significant gains in opportunities to improve diversity in the geosciences field, which is the least diverse of all the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Among AfricaArray’s many contributions to improving diversity, it offers financial, research and educational opportunities to underrepresented students. Its impact has been praised by numerous organizations including the National Science Foundation, which has given more than $10 million toward the initiative.

“Nyblade has established an internationally respected research, training and outreach program that is the product of a bold initial vision, thorough planning, flawless execution, dogged determination and grit,” said a nominator. “The totality of his work in Africa has catapulted his reputation as the international authority on the geological structure and evolution of the African continent and, leveraging from that, a leader in diversifying the discipline of geology.”

In Africa, AfricaArray has installed dozens of seismometers, which are used in educational partnerships with local schools and universities.

An integral part of the program is the summer geophysics course that pairs underrepresented college students in the U.S. with students from Africa to complete research and fieldwork in Southern Africa.

A nominator said the program has had “a transformative effect on students, fostering a passion for geophysics and heightening their desire to embark on formal training in the earth sciences.” More than 50 participants have completed bachelor of science or master of science degrees in geosciences after participating in the program and another 14 completed degrees in other STEM fields.

Nyblade’s goal is to educate and mentor students so that they can become successful candidates for graduate school or the workforce. Currently, there are 25 students in the program, and the goal is to expand to more than 100 students within the next several years. A nominator said the program has become a major pipeline of highly trained minority students to work in major energy and related companies.

“AfricaArray is the epitome of academic integration because it satisfies three of Nyblade’s academic career objectives: to understand the geological history of Africa, to build capacity in earthquake hazard assessment and geological knowledge in Africa, and to boost the diversity of the U.S. geosciences workforce through education and outreach,” said a nominator.

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Last Updated April 04, 2017