SAGE 2YC > Change Agent Teams > D.C. Metro Area

D.C. Metro Area Change Agent Team

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Callan Bentley, Northern Virginia Community College
Caitlin Chazen, Northern Virginia Community College
Marla Morales, Northern Virginia Community College

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Description of Program Work

Our goal is to boost the efficacy and engagement of the NOVA geoscience program. We seek not only to increase student awareness of the geoscience courses that we offer and to establish a system allowing for more interaction and communication between current and former geoscience students, geoscience staff, and college administrators. A critical part of this initiative is aimed at increasing student involvement and participation, particularly from underrepresented groups. We feel the best way to increase involvement is to create a better geoscience community on our campus. To accomplish this each of the members of our SAGE2YC group are working on different aspects of student, administration and faculty interaction. For example, one member is working with our career center and academic advisors to increase the awareness of geoscience courses. Additionally, we will partner with student multicultural groups to broaden geoscience exposure on campus. Another member is working to (re)build the internal geoscience faculty communication including extracurricular field trip opportunities and a shareable database of fieldtrip resources. And, another member is working to increase awareness among students and student groups about potential careers in the geosciences. Additional action items that we are working on will include establishing joint field trips with other 2YCs, putting together a geology Facebook page, creating a network of NOVA geology alums, and creating a faculty introduction board to be posted in our hallways to introduce faculty to students.

Team Activities

Fall Workshops

Spring 2019 Workshop

Spring Follow-on Activities


Team Members

Callan Bentley

Callan writes the geology blog Mountain Beltway, which is hosted by AGU. He was recently elected a fellow of the Geological Society of America and is a contributing editor at EARTH magazine. He is a PI on the GEODE project. Callan developed the Carbon, Climate, and Energy Resources module for InTeGrate and describes his teaching, field work and blogging in an essay Quality, fieldwork, & blogging: My recipe for success.


Callan teaches Physical Geology and Historical Geology, including an online Physical Geology course he describes in his essay from the Teaching About the Earth Online workshop. He also describes his field course Geology of the Billy Goat Trail in the Geo2YC collection.

Caitlin Chazen

Caitlin's scientific research has concentrated on understanding changes in high-frequency climate patterns, including the El Nino Southern Oscillation. She served as a research scientist on board a Woods Hole oceanographic vessel during a coring expedition in the Tropical Pacific and was a two-time research fellow in the National Science Foundation-funded GK-12 program. The GK-12 program places scientists in underserved public school districts to teach science and provide support for teachers. Caitlin continues her commitment to public education, frequently partnering with D.C. public schools to help teachers expand science learning.


Caitlin teaches Physical Geology, Historical Geology and Introduction to Environmental Science at Northern Virginia Community College in addition to Oceanography at George Washington University.

Marla Morales

Marla is Senior Research Scientist at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI). SwRI is an applied research not-for-profit where scientists and engineers study, design and implement new technologies for the chemical, biological, nuclear, transportation and space science fields. Ms. Morales started her career as an infield geophysicist living and working in the Middle East. She spent the next year working offshore in the North Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and South American coast. At SwRI Ms. Morales specializes in environmental analysis for nuclear facilities and mining of nuclear source material.


Marla Morales teaches Physical and Historical Geology.


Northern Virginia Community College

Institution: Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) is the second largest community college in the United States, serving over 75,000 students from six campuses. NOVA is also one of the most internationally diverse colleges in the United States, with students representing 180 different countries. Sixteen percent of NOVA students are black, and 21% are hispanic/latino.

Geoscience program: The geoscience program at NVCC includes courses in Physical Geology, Historical Geology, Oceanography, Mineralogy, and a number of 1, 2 and 4 credit field courses exploring local, regional, national, and international locations. In addition, environmental science is available through the Biology program, geospatial analysis courses are taught through a separate certificate program, and astronomy and meteorology are taught through the Physics program.

The students who enroll in geoscience courses mirror the demographics of the institution. Across all NOVA campuses, geoscience program courses reach approximately 3,000 students each year. Most of the students are non-science majors that are filling their lab-science requirement. However, at any given time, there are about 25 students planning to transfer and major in the geosciences. There is a robust undergraduate research program.

Across all NOVA campuses there are 8 full-time geoscience faculty and approximately 15 adjunct geoscience faculty. One campus maintains a full-time Geology Program Assistant while at other campuses that function is shared between disciplines.

The Geology program is part of the larger Physical Science program in the Math, Science and Engineering Division on the Annandale campus of Northern Virginia Community College. This arrangement is similar on the other NOVA campuses.

Institutional demographic data is from IPEDS the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, U.S. Department of Education, typically for the 2014-15 year as available.

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