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Donate to Support GEM Students

Any donation amount is welcome and will help a talented marginalized or disadvantaged student reach their potential

All donations are tax deductible (501c3)


CSUN GEMS Program Mission: This program provides community building, academic and research support to encourage and improve the geological experience of disadvantaged and underrepresented marginalized (URM) students, such as Hispanic American, Latinx, Black, and Native American students at CSUN in the Department of Geological Sciences. The CSUN GEMS program seeks to advance marginalized and disadvantaged students to successfully complete their education. We provide research and hands-on lab and field experience for improved job and graduate school success.

VIDEO: Hear from GEM students

Many GEM students work at least 1 or more part time jobs outside of school to address real housing and food insecurities (not covered by student financial aid) for themselves and family members often living in impoverished neighborhoods. These students, frequently work over the university recommended 20 hrs/week, may have excellent comprehension and potential for brilliance but will show poor grade performance in school due to lack of time to study, excessive life stress, and lack of coping skills or a supportive environment to focus. Low grades severely limit student chances in future jobs and graduate schools. Many GEM students are the first in their family to college, are unfamiliar with the academic environment, don't feel like they "belong", and can't easily invision themselves in an academic or a highly skilled job when surrounded by a lack of diversity and an overwhelming financial burden where education seems like an extravagance. The CSUN GEMS program seeks to address these problems by providing extra guidance (see below), peer support groups, and research experience to successfully navigate the university.


GEMS 3 Level Support Structure (Annual Support Needed)

I. Peer Team Mentorship (Need: $18,000)

Creates support network for marginalized students who often feel isolated or they don't belong in traditional academic science environment. (Funds requested to support mentors and activities)

  • Coffee hour monthly
  • Team support to combat systemic racism
  • Build a resume
  • Write a personal statement
  • Fieldtrip Guide in GEOL 101 classes
  • Lead outreach activites with local highschools
  • Graduate and senior students serve as mentors

II. Academic Support (Need: $3,000)

Provide tutoring and tips to improve grades and scholastic performance. (Financial support for workshop lunches and speaker series)

  • Tutoring in Math and Chemistry (provided by CSUN)
  • Monthly Workshops
  • Discussions and GEMS Speaker Series: Solutions to Systemic Racism
  • School / life balance and time management
  • How to succeed in a large class
  • Finding peer support in classes

III. Student Research Support (Need: $360,000)

Encourage GEM undergraduate students to partcipate in undergraduate research. Research supports $10,000 for each GEM student to work fulltime in Summer and Winter breaks and 5 hrs/week during school year. Support allows students to quit part time jobs and focus 100% on school academics and research which are mutually relevant and often interactive. This level of support has been shown (see below) to increase GPA significantly, job prospects, and graduate school success. Research support is independent from financial aid. Funds support 10 faculty research advisors at ½ monthly summer salary.

  • 40+ weeks annual hands-on experience in labs, with analytical equipment, computer software, and field work for future job and graduate careers
  • Research shown to improve GPA and future success in jobs, graduate schools (e.g. Fechheimer et al., 2011; Eagen et al., 2013).
  • GEMS encourages Sophomores, Juniors, & Seniors to get involved in research
  • Named Scholarship: 1 GEM Master's Student (Tuition + Research Stipend at $30,000/yr)

Named Endowment to provide total support for CSUN GEMS Program for 30 marginalized or disadvantaged students per year in perpetuity ($9,000,000)

Total GEMS program funds: 92% of funds for GEM students support, and 8% of funds for Department of Geological Sciences faculty research training time investment. CSUN GEMS Director, Dr. Dayanthie Weeraratne, donates her time for program organization, workshops, and mentorship, as a passionate CSUN faculty member.


History and demonstrated success of the CSUN GEMS Program

  • 2010. CSUN GEMS program began in 2010 as one of two parts of an NSF CAREER grant to Dr. Dayanthie Weeraratne to do research and educational outreach with URM geophysics and geology CSUN students. Partial support also contributed to GEM students by Penn State (NSF OEDG grant) and energy companies.
    • B.S. Graduates (30 + 12 in progress)
    • Advanced to graduate schools M.S. or Ph.D. after GEMS (15)
    • Hired to industry jobs after GEMS (15)
  • 2017. NSF CAREER grant ended
  • 2019. Penn State NSF OEDG grant ended
  • 2020-present CSUN GEMS program currently running with no funding. Most GEMS students work 1-2 part times jobs. Student grades and advancement suffers without time for research or financial support to reduce work hours outside of school.
  • Dr. Dayanthie Weeraratne, the GEMS director, is person of color, raised by a single mother, first generation resident, and 2nd generation to college, who has risen out of poverty through her education and research which she loves passionately (Dr. Weeraratne's website:

The goal of the GEM program is to support the high percentage (see Table below) of underrepresented marginalized students (URM) at the undergraduate level in order to give them a better chance at advancing to the graduate student and faculty levels where the URM populations are low nationally. We seek to improve diversity at the highest levels to improve equal representation and also to improve diversity of scientific ideas, perspective, and more innovative discoveries as suggested in recent studies (e.g. Hofstra et al., 2020).

Geological Sciences 
  • Faculty (2021)
    • URM: 8%
    • White: 77%
  • Graduate Students (2021)
    • URM: 25%
    • White: 75%
  • Undergraduate Students (2021)
    • URM: 62%
    • White: 27%


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