Research Experiences for Undergraduates (NSF-REU)


Chief Joseph Dike Swarm

Apply to the four-week summer research program and join us in producing valuable insights into Earth processes. Applications are currently being accepted until January 15, 2024.


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How do Flood Basalts form?

A Crystal Size Distribution Approach

The Chief Joseph Dike Swarm project is accepting applications for five (5) students to participate in a paid, field-based summer research experience in Oregon, and Idaho for 18 days. Selected student participants will receive a $2,000 stipend with all food, lodging, and travel expenses to the field area and back covered by the program. Additionally, students will present their research in National conferences (all travel expenses are covered). 


This hands-on research experience is expected to operate in-person from approximately end of June to mid of July. More precise dates will be added here soon. Students will receive continued training, mentoring, and support for a period of one (1) year towards the completion of their research project and some participants will have the option to return for a second field season to mentor other students. 

Project Goals

The goal of this project is to understand the general nature of thick feeder dikes at the Chief Joseph Dike Swarm (CJDS), including emplacement, growth mechanisms, and structural influences that contribute to flow volumes and how often these flow events occur.

Selected candidates will work in the field for eighteen (18) days, followed by a six month mentoring period, to investigate how divergent rift settings can accommodate for hundreds to thousands of dikes with considerable average thicknesses.

The student participant research project results in a student-authored poster publication that will be presented at a regional/national scientific conference. Students will also be part of any peer-reviewed publications that the PIs will produce as part of this project.

Miocene volcanism in the northwestern region of the U.S. occurred approximately 17-6 Ma (Morriss et al., 2020) and is a result of extensive fissure systems that produced enormous flows of lava. (Figure by Victor et al. 2017). Evidence of these flows can be observed in large sets of dikes that propagate with a primary geometry. The map figure above (Victor et al., 2017) depicts the location and extent of five main dike swarms across Oregon, Washington, and Idaho.

The Chief Joseph dike swarm (CJDS) is the most widespread and voluminous swarm within the Columbia River flood-basalt province and is the focus of this project. The CJDS is responsible for approximately 84% of the flow output by volume (~175,000 cubic km) (Victor et al., 2017) towards the formation of the Columbia River flood-basalt province.

Participants will have first-hand experience collecting rock specimens from exposed dikes with the aid of field sampling tools, such as a coring drill. Upon return from the field, students will prepare and process the samples by employing the following methodologies: textural analyses, dike morphology mapping, polarized light microscopy, mathematical modeling, and statistical analyses.

High-Impact Components

Students who actively engage in collaborative research and are closely supported by relatable mentors commonly demonstrate substantial gains in critical thinking and research skills, report more satisfaction with their overall educational experience, and are more likely to pursue graduate studies. The initiatives of this project will undoubtedly contribute to a high-impact student learning experience and foster intercultural effectiveness to produce the next generation of empowered, independent thinkers. Students can look forward to the following:

Develop highly coveted field skills using a combination of traditional field tools and the latest digital technologies while connecting to cultural landscapes

Access to state-of-the-art research laboratories, field equipment, and applications (e.g., EBSD scanning electron microscope, LA-ICP-MS, Electron Microprobe)

Personal, one-on-one mentoring and expertise training from program instructors and supporting staff and peers through the entirety of the project

Present results at a conference setting, network with some of the top researchers in the industry, build a professional internet presence as a geoscientist through various online platforms (such as podcasting, blogs, vlogs)


Our activities are designed to involve personalized mentoring and academic and social support that has been proven effective in supporting the retention of students, especially underrepresented minorities (URM), in STEM disciplines. Highlights of our mentorship program are as follows:

  • Pre- and post- participant interviews where each student can share their expectations and desired benefits, preferred mentoring style, concerns, and project satisfaction/success
  • Training modules that cover the theoretical background behind the research idea as well as the geologic and historical setting of the study area
  • Field methods workshops emphasizing (1) skills building such as field safety, map navigation, and first aid, (2) maintaining mental wellness, motivation, and effective coping strategies for prolonged fieldwork, and (3) panel discussion with current/former students speaking on their personal research experiences and challenges that women and underrepresented minorities face during fieldwork
  • Real-time, intensive mentoring and support by program instructors and experienced peers in the field, lab, and beyond. Motivation and wellness check-ins.
  • Communicating science workshops detailing topics such as (1) how to prepare for a poster or oral presentation for academic conferences, (2) increasing sense of belonging and confidence and reducing imposter syndrome, and (3) how to address microaggressions and navigating majority-white spaces.

This research program is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The activities and framework planned will strengthen students’ knowledge of geosciences, teach them life skills that will prepare them for a successful future in academia or industry, and enhance their academic performance, confidence and sense of belonging through mentorship and social support. The CJDS project is designed to recruit and retain undergraduate and graduate level students, particularly from underrepresented populations, in various areas of the Geosciences field.


The safety of participants and our local community is paramount.
We are continuing to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and will revise formatting, if needed.

Frequently Asked


Who should apply?

Students must meet certain qualifications:

  • Is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Currently enrolled as an undergraduate at a four-year college/university with an expected date of graduation no earlier than December 2022.
  • Students with no or limited research experience in the field are welcome to apply.
  • We strongly encourage students from historically underserved populations to apply. Such backgrounds include students with disabilities, first-generation college students, non-traditional students, students who are Black or African American, American Indian or Native Pacific Islanders, Hispanic or Latinos, and many more.
  • Students interested in learning more about a graduate-level career in the field of geosciences or related pathways.
Are there prerequisite course requirements to participate in these projects?
  • Completion or enrollment in a course in mineralogy, petrology, or Earth materials is preferred.
  • Coursework in structural geology and/or field geology or field methods is useful but not necessary.
  • Experience using MATLAB, ArcGIS, Python is highly desired but not necessary.
Is this experience for me?

The overarching goal of this funding is to broaden and retain diversity in the geosciences workforce. You will find yourself in the center of the most relevant and high-quality research in the science field. Gain hands-on experience while working with top researchers and equally aspiring peers. You’ll develop an understanding of what it is like to be immersed in a research environment, versus what you think it may be like, in order to inform your future career choices. If this sounds like something you would be interested in pursuing, then we encourage you to submit an application. Do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions! Contact information is listed in the section below.

What skills can I expect to develop?
  • Experience with field and laboratory procedures/protocols
  • Intellectual skills such as inquiry and data analysis, reading and understanding research literature
  • Collaboration and teamwork building skills
  • How to effectively present research findings (orally and written) in both academic and non-academic avenues.

Program Leaders

Dr. Paulo Hidalgo

Principal Investigator

About Dr. Hidalgo

Dr. Hidalgo has 15+ years of experience evaluating magma transfer from crust to the surface and 8+ years of mentoring students in the field with yearly data collection experiences in Western Montana, Costa Rica, and Ecuador. Dr. Hidalgo leads one of the most diverse Field Methods courses in the nation, with up to 45% of URM students participating in any given year. Dr. Hidalgo has mentored over 8 graduate and 12 undergraduate students in their research projects. All of these projects had strong field components using a great variety of field and geochemical methods.

Dr. Ryan Currier

Principal Investigator

About Dr. Currier

Dr. Currier has extensive experience with textural analyses of igneous rocks. He has served as an advisor on 2 graduate student projects that utilized the method of crystal size distributions and recently published the first quantitative textural analyses of rapakivi granites (Currier et al., 2019). Dr. Currier has begun to utilize electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) as a means of textural analysis and has collected several preliminary datasets from the Dais Intrusion of Antarctica and the Orestes Melt Zone of Antarctica, and is comfortable with MATLAB and the MTEX toolkit required for analyzing EBSD data. Dr. Currier is excited to take lessons learned from laboratory-based experiments on magma intrusion dynamics (Currier et al., 2017; Currier and Marsh, 2015), and applying them to field-based investigations, such as the emplacement style of dikes.

Anjelica Guerrier

Field Assistant

About Anjelica

Anjelica has a Masters degree in Geology and currently is working on her Doctorate degree at University of California Davis. Her passions are to study the emplacement of igneous body at depth, geoscience education and a more inclusive and diverse geosciences.

Jada Nimblett

Field Assistant

About Jada

Jada is working towards a Masters degree in Geology at Georgia State University. Her passions are to study the movement of magma through the crust, hydrothermal systems, carbon sequestration, and geoscience education. She has research projects in Eastern Oregon and NW Costa Rica.