Dana Thomas

The University of Texas at Austin

I am a geoscience educator who is passionate about developing and facilitating impactful, inclusive programs that provide students from all backgrounds the learning, opportunities and support they need to pursue their goals. As a Senior Academic Program Coordinator in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin, I partner with colleagues to broaden participation in Earth, planetary and environmental science, primarily at the undergraduate level, and extending into pre-college and post-baccalaureate transition phases. Current projects include the JSG summer undergraduate Research Traineeship Experience (RTX), the Math and Science Institute for incoming college freshmen, a computational earthquake science summer school and an NSF-funded workshop series for faculty and researchers to become more inclusive mentors. I also lead the assessment and evaluation that drives iterative improvement of these programs.

I have always cherished teaching, and I am a Lecturer with the Energy and Earth Resources Graduate Program https://www.jsg.utexas.edu/eer/ at the Jackson School. I focus on and incorporate societally-relevant issues into geology courses, including within a course for interdisciplinary students that emphasizes the geologic controls on the distribution and reliance on Earth resources. With researchers at the Bureau of Economic Geology, I also co-teach a project-based course on CO2 sequestration in geologic formations. My teaching benefits from NAGT resources and colleagues.

My fondness for Earth science and education have always existed side by side. After spending a few semesters jumping from major to major, I pursued and received my Bachelor’s degree in Geology & Geophysics from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where I am from. I earned my PhD in Geological & Environmental Sciences from Stanford University, where I investigated the fluid-rock interactions between CO2-rich fluids and basaltic rocks to make better predictions about storing carbon dioxide emissions in volcanic rocks underground. During graduate school I nurtured my interests in the scholarship of teaching and learning and DEI issues in geoscience. With my peers, I developed a departmental TA training program for graduate students, participated in workshops on evidence-based pedagogy, and I also served as a Program Assistant for an undergraduate research program for two summers. NAGT served as a valuable resource in my professional development and I am proud to be a Councilor-at-Large currently.

Workshop Participant, Webinar Participant, Website Contributor

Website Content Contributions

Conference Presentations (2)

Utilizing Backwards Design to create a Blended, Multicontext learning framework in a field-based Geoscience course part of Earth Educators Rendezvous:Previous Rendezvous:Rendezvous 2021:Program:Oral Sessions:Oral Session IV
GeoFORCE is an out-of-school-time high school program that strives to increase the number of minoritized students pursuing STEM and Geoscience by exposing students to Geoscience through week-long field-based ...

Teaching our TAs: enhancing educational training for geoscience graduate students part of Earth Educators Rendezvous:Previous Rendezvous:Rendezvous 2016:Program:Poster Sessions:Thursday
As teaching assistants (TAs), graduate students are often the primary resource in a classroom and serve as the communication gateway between students and instructors. Importantly, they may later become ...