Can Community Laboratory Facilities Increase Access and Inclusivity in Geoscience?

Lee B. Corbett, Paul R. Bierman, Steven Semken, Joseph A. Whittaker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Geochronology and geochemistry are critical tools in geoscience research and research training, but students and faculty at many institutions have little or no access to the specialized and expensive facilities needed for sample preparation and analysis. Here, we explore whether a community laboratory, dedicated to hosting and training visitors, can help address this inequity by increasing access to specialized geochemical techniques and the resulting data. We report the first three years of outcomes from the Community Cosmogenic Facility, the goal of which is to improve access by making an increasingly important analytic technique more widely available. Although the facility we describe here focuses on cosmogenic nuclide sample preparation, the model we present is viable across the geosciences. Three years of development, assessment, and refinement demonstrate that the community laboratory model increased technique access to undergraduate and graduate students. Women were represented in first-authored, peer-reviewed papers at a rate nearly twice that of the broader community. In contrast, the participation of under-represented groups did not increase over geoscience norms. Our data clearly illustrate that challenges to fostering a diverse geoscience community persist. Proactive interaction with faculty and students at Minority Serving Institutions, cohort-focused training models, and financial support to visit community laboratories may be future steps toward further diversifying users of community facilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2021EA002028
JournalEarth and Space Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022


  • access
  • diversity
  • education
  • equity
  • mentoring
  • training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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