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News Release, Kansas Geological Survey, January 23, 2023

KGS associate researcher receives KU research achievement award

LAWRENCE — Blair Schneider, associate researcher and science outreach manager at the Kansas Geological Survey, is this year's recipient of the KU Research Staff Achievement Award.

The annual award recognizes outstanding unclassified professional staff whose research has significantly influenced their fields and expanded intellectual or societal insights.

Schneider will be recognized at a ceremony this spring along with recipients of other major KU research awards.

Blair Schneider
Blair Schneider

The KU Research Staff Achievement Award was established in 2018, with honorees receiving $5,000 for approved research or professional development activities.

Schneider's contributions both to research and to ensuring her field is diverse and equitable are noteworthy.

Schneider heads the Forensic & Archaeological Subsurface Targets (FAST) geophysics program. There she uses ground-penetrating radar and historical records to identify unmarked graves in potter's fields, which are burial grounds for the unknown or those excluded from traditional cemeteries.

Additionally, she is the co-investigator on a 2016 National Science Foundation ADVANCE Award to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in geology. Her team, known as ADVANCEGeo, sent surveys to multiple professional organizations in earth and space sciences to identify issues scientists in underrepresented communities face in the workplace. They then developed training for bystanders and colleagues to address the issues identified in those surveys. She is also co-investigator on a second ADVANCE Award announced in 2022 to further expand this work.

Schneider's DEI work also occurs at the undergraduate level. She is starting a new program in spring 2023 to mentor Pell Grant-eligible junior and senior students. This project involves a partnership between the Kansas Biological Survey & Center for Ecological Research and the Center for Undergraduate Research and was funded by a five-year, $1 million NSF Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) grant.

Schneider earned a bachelor's degree in geology with a minor in historical archaeology from James Madison University and a doctorate in geology from KU.