PVCC Faculty Member Aboard STEMSEAS Program Inaugural Expedition for Community Colleges

Charlottesville, Va. – November 9, 2023 – Piedmont Virginia Community College (PVCC) is proud to announce the participation of Associate Professor of Geology Callan Bentley in the inaugural expedition for the STEMSEAS program designed expressly for community college faculty.

The expedition, on board the R/V Thomas G. Thompson, operated by the University of Washington and owned by the Office of Naval Research (ONR), set sail from Seattle, Washington November 2, for Honolulu, Hawaii by November 11. The leadership team includes faculty from five colleges, ONR’s Research Facilities Program Manager Robert Sparrock and SpaceX astronaut Sian Proctor.

PVCC President Dr. Jean Runyon shared, “Our talented faculty, like Associate Professor Bentley, deeply care about their students and their discipline. Bentley’s STEMSEAS adventure will provide PVCC students with a rich classroom learning experience. He daily inspires students to pursue research opportunities and careers in the sciences.”

Since 2016, STEMSEAS has aimed to provide ship-based, six- to 10-day exploratory experiences for undergraduates from diverse backgrounds aboard National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded research vessels. Students sail with experienced faculty and graduate student near-peer mentors, and engage in geoscience and oceanography activities to inspire them by cutting-edge science and expose them to the wide variety of scientific and career options available to them.

The current expedition’s goals include partnering with one of higher education’s most undervalued resources, community college faculty, to:

  • help community college faculty feel prepared to serve as future STEMSEAS expedition mentors;
  • expose faculty to the STEMSEAS experience so they can authentically encourage their students to take advantage of these opportunities, and;
  • provide an exciting, unique and potentially transformative professional development opportunity for community college faculty.

Selected in a highly competitive application process, the participants represent nine states and 13 different colleges. These participants bring a wide range of experiences, background and ideas to the group. During the expedition, they will engage in oceanography and geoscience activities, explore marine careers and brainstorm together about future expedition-related opportunities for their students.

This expedition, and the STEMSEAS program overall, is funded by the National Science Foundation through a grant to Columbia University and Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), and is supported by a partnership with the University National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) and the Office of Naval Research.

To learn more about the STEMSEAS program and participants, and read expedition blog entries, visit https://stemseas.wordpress.com/cruise-participants/.

About Piedmont Virginia Community College
Established in 1972, Piedmont Virginia Community College is a nonresidential two-year institution of higher education that serves Central Virginia – principally, residents of the City of Charlottesville and the counties of Albemarle, Buckingham, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, and Nelson. PVCC is one of 23 community colleges in Virginia that comprise the Virginia Community College System. PVCC is committed to providing access to a college education for all who can benefit, an opportunity for each student to reach her/his potential and excellence in all programs and services. Visit pvcc.edu.


Susian Brooks                                                                                   
Director | Marketing and Media Relations                             
434.961.6574 | sbrooks@pvcc.edu


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