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GETUP Faculty & Staff

WSU Faculty Leaders


Elizabeth (Liz) Balgord

Earth and Environmental Science Assistant Professor
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Liz Balgord is a field geologist who uses the sedimentary rock record to better understand mountain building. She has extensive experience with field applications, project-based classes, and international collaborations (including active research in Argentina and Peru). Although she has only been at Weber State a few years, she already mentored over a dozen undergraduate research projects, with multiple students presenting their research at professional meetings. She is the program director for this grant and helped lead a pilot project funded by the Utah System of Higher Education Grant, which included initial development of a concurrent enrollment course and Summer Bridge program during the 2016-2017 academic year. For this project, she will coordinate expansion of the concurrent enrollment course to more high schools and help develop additional project-based learning exercises, coordinate the summer bridge program, and help with the summer research program and mentoring of focused undergraduate research projects.


Carie Frantz

Earth and Environmental Science Assistant Professor
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Carie Frantz is a geomicrobiologist and geochemist who does research in the Great Salt Lake, the Arctic, and anywhere that microbes build rocks. She is interested in how the structures that microbes help build can record past climate change events. She is passionate about involving young students from disadvantaged backgrounds in scientific research projects because of the confidence and scientific thinking it builds. She developed a STEM outreach program at the University of Southern California called the Young Researchers Program that has involved nearly a hundred students from inner-city Los Angeles in science and engineering discovery. She has also taught immersive, research-oriented summer courses on geobiology and environmental microbiology for the Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies, Agouron Institute, and the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole. She has mentored dozens of undergraduate and high school students in research projects. Dr. Frantz will be helping with the summer bridge program, running the summer research program, and directs the Great Salt Lake Observatory.


Marek Matyjasik

Earth and Environmental Science Professor
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Marek brings expertise in hydrogeology and has extensive experience with active learning pedagogies, collaborative projects with industry and government agencies (including projects with the USDA Forest Service that address climate change effects on alpine environments), and mentoring student research. Over the last 5 years, he has mentored 20 undergraduate students on research projects, with 11 students co-authored publications and abstracts. For this project, he will help with the concurrent enrollment class in high schools (GEO 1110), help with the summer bridge and summer research programs, help faculty incorporate active learning strategies into courses, and teach a community-engaged learning (CEL) class (GEO 1060- Environmental Geosciences).


WSU Support Faculty and Staff


Gary Davis
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Gary Davis is a teacher at Weber Innovation High School in Ogden, UT. Gary graduated from the Weber  State University Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and then, a few years later, received a Masters from Mississippi State University. Gary has been teaching in the Ogden since 2003. He currently teaches Physics, Aerospace Engineering, and Physical Geology. He will be teaching the Concurrent Enrollment GEO 1110 course at Weber Innovation during this project and helping teach the summer bridge program. Outside of work, Gary is also very active in the outdoors with rock climbing, canyoneering, skiing, scrambling, and trail running (including multiple marathons and ultra marathons).



Richard (Rick) Ford

Earth and Environmental Science Department Chair
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Rick Ford brings expertise in geomorphology and has extensive experience with curriculum development (including membership on the writing group for Utah's 9th-grade Earth Science course), and is the advisor for the Earth Science Teaching major. For this project, he will coordinate departmental student advising, contribute to the sophomore-level careers/skills course (GEO 3000), and act as a liaison between alumni and undergraduate students.




Adolph Yonkee

Geoscience Professor
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Adolph Yonkee is a structural geologist who studies the origins of mountain belts, from the Andes of Argentina to the Rocky Mountains of Wyoming. He uses a variety of tools, such as field studies of fold-thrust belts, microscopic examination of fault rocks, and chemical analysis of volcanic rocks, to understand tectonic evolution of Earth’s crust. Adolph has mentored numerous undergraduate students on research projects, has established collaborations with multiple universities and international colleagues, and has ties with local government agencies, including mapping projects with the Utah Geological Survey. For this project, Dr. Yonkee will help with the summer research program, teach the new sophomore-level Geoscience Careers and Methods course, and help with teaching the Physical Geology course and lab.


Michael Hernandez

Earth and Environmental Science Professor
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Michael Hernandez brings expertise in geospatial applications, has extensive experience with curriculum development (including a current NSF ATE grant to develop a postsecondary geospatial education program) and coordinating multi-disciplinary GIS applications across campus. He has numerous ties with government agencies (city/county/state GIS departments, USDA Forest Service) and hopes to use the department’s new drones to support partnerships in research and education with these agencies as well as other community groups. Over the last 5 years, he has mentored 20 undergraduate students on research projects and internships, with the publication of 10 student co-authored abstracts. For this project, he will contribute to the sophomore-level careers/skills course (GEO 3000), and help mentor internships and undergraduate research projects.


Jennifer Claesgens

Center for Science and Mathematics Director

Jennifer Claesgens, Ph.D., is the Director of the Center for Science and Math Education (CSME) at Weber State University and will serve as project evaluator. Her work for the CSME has been to support K-16 science and math education in the community. The evaluation plan is to compare the success of students who enter the GETUP early during high school and/or through the summer bridge (and thus have better pre-college preparation) with students who follow a traditional college-path to a geoscience degree.

Let's Connect!



GETUP Program Director

Elizabeth Balgord
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 (NSF EAR 1801760 )

Mailing address

Weber State University
College of Science
1415 Edvalson St., Dept. 2507
Ogden, UT 84408-2507

Building location

Tracy Hall Science Center (TY 338)

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