Scientists & Mentors

About Our Scientists

The scientists that volunteer their time to work with Earth Explorers students are the cornerstone of our program and organization. The program simply wouldn’t be possible without their efforts and generous donations of their time, energy, and enthusiasm.

Earth Explorers is always on the lookout for scientists who love outreach! We often work with graduate students and early-career scientists, and we aim to recruit scientists that are as diverse as possible to reflect our diverse student body. We love working with all scientific disciplines – if you have a research project that is easy to film/visually interesting, are excited to work with our students, and can work with our schedule – we want to talk! 

About Our Mentors

Earth Explorers Mentors play a critical role in the success of our students each semester. These mentors are typically undergraduate college students from a wide range of majors that support student teams with a variety of tasks and challenges. For many of our students, much of what they’ll learn during a semester in an Earth Explorers program is new territory. Having a mentor to help to navigate that process is invaluable. Mentors give feedback on scripts, make suggestions on camera positions, and help teams work through interpersonal disputes. Beyond their direct support, Earth Explorers Mentors serve as a role model and sounding board for our students. For many, the idea of going to college is new and unknown territory. Our mentors often answer as many questions about dining halls and college life as they do about cameras and scripts.

Scientist Spotlight

“The human endeavor of science is rooted not only in research but also in how we present our findings from research. One thing I loved about the Earth Explorers program is that the students were learning about scientific topics while also exploring creative ways to share the science with their peers and families.

“Being kidnapped by aliens and taken to the planetarium for interrogation, trying to evade the government agents who want to know more about our findings in astrobiology, or having a spill of sulfurous material from a moon of Jupiter – the students in the Earth Explorers program came up with some really fun and creative ways to present a fictional storyline around an interview with me on my research and the quest to understand whether or not we’re alone in the cosmos.”
– Graham Lau, Earth Explorers Scientist

Graham Lau served as an Earth Explorers Scientist for quite a few semesters, making an impression every time. Students had never met a scientist with a mohawk before, certainly not one who was as excited to talk to them about aliens and astrobiology as Graham was! Graham excitedly showed students around his lab, played along with all of their unique film ideas, and shared his enthusiasm for science with each student.

Mentor Spotlight

“My favorite part of the program was watching students troubleshoot and work together to make their ideas a reality. It was very rewarding to watch all their efforts come together to form the final project.” – Shannon O’Neil, Earth Explorers Mentor

Shannon O’Neil is a pretty special mentor. Back in 2012, she was an Earth Explorers student. In 2019, she came back to serve as an Earth Explorers Mentor. Shannon attended field trips to guide her team through the filming process and helped give feedback during the editing process. Shannon is currently an aerospace engineering student and the team she was assigned to was working on a film about an aerospace engineering professor at CU Boulder. This connection allowed Shannon a chance to not only help her team in a more detailed and nuanced way, but also allowed Shannon to network within the larger aerospace engineering community in Boulder.

Partnerships Make it Possible

Past Earth Explorers Scientists have come from a wide range of labs and research institutions. Working with such a diverse range of research institutions ensures that our students, who come with their own diverse range of interests, can connect to a researcher in a field that interests and engages them. 

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