Meet Ivan Carabajal, PhD candidate in geoscience education

"My name is Ivan Carabajal and I am a PhD candidate and National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow at the University of Cincinnati where I focus on accessibility and inclusion in geoscience education.

I started taking geology classes at Pasadena City College before transferring to UC Davis where I earned a B.S. in Geology in 2013. Being an earth scientist has provided me with unforgettable experiences, lifelong friendships, and the immense joy that comes from learning more about the earth around and underneath us. After over a decade since my first earth science class, I am still completely enamored with the geosciences. For almost ten years, it has been my personal mission to share to the world of geology and earth science to as many people as I can. Whether I’m identifying rocks and minerals during hikes with friends or leading geology labs for undergraduate students, I have always wanted to help students find themselves pursuing an education in the geosciences – I wanted others to experience the same sense of fulfillment that I had.

I became more involved in earth science education after a National Park Service internship through the Geological Society of America’s (GSA) Mosaics in Science Program. After the internship, I started looking more into the field of geoscience education research and was exposed to research by Dr. Chris Atchison at the University of Cincinnati. His work, which focuses on accessible earth science teaching, seemed revolutionary to me as I had only been taught geology the “old-fashioned” way. His work was undoubtedly groundbreaking and I knew I had to work with him. So, I did. Dr. Atchison was my graduate research advisor for my Master’s degree (2013) and is still my primary advisor in my doctoral program.

Since I began working with Dr. Atchison, I have seen my role change as a geologist to an activist/ally. Instead of trying to modify current field courses to be accessible, I was now recognizing how my actions – the way I presented myself, how I taught students, how I talked – were rooted in ableist cultural aspects inherent to the geosciences. As a Latinx geoscientist, I have experienced racism in my career sure, but these experiences with racism are subdued. In geoscience culture, exclusion is so boldly apparent you often have to wonder if it is done on purpose. Today, my research focuses on using Critical Disability Theory to investigate and (hopefully) dismantle the sociocultural norms that promote exclusion in the geosciences. I also work with the International Association for Geoscience Diversity (The IAGD: @accessiblegeo) to advocate for a more inclusive earth science community."

- Ivan Carabajal (he/him)

Instagram: @officialskylinecholo

Research Gate: Ivan Carabajal