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Deborah Bronk

Hello TOS members!

Over the last decade there has been greater focus on the important question of how to increase access to careers in science and how to break down barriers to gaining that access. Here I’d like to focus on how we deal with the student once we get them through the door and pose a question I have been pondering for a while.

How challenging should preparation for a career in science be?

For years I’ve been hearing students complain that school is too hard. Professors expect too much. Graduate school takes too long. Undergraduate programs require too many classes. For those of you who read the Chronicle of Higher Education, this is a problem across the US, and my non-US colleagues tell me we are not alone. Post-pandemic, mental health issues like depression and anxiety seem to have skyrocketed. As a result, we try to provide more support, modify expectations, and engineer accommodations to meet students where they are.

I am supportive of all of this in spirit. Where I struggle is with the reality that a career in science is not easy. It takes grit, determination, and the ability to pick yourself up when you get knocked down—again and again. Grants don’t get funded. Reviewers can be cruel. Industry projects get cancelled. Papers get rejected. Policies fail to pass. Experiments don’t work. This is all part of the wild ride of a science career. It is not for the faint of heart.

I worry that the preparation we provide to many students does not match the level of problem-solving and emotional resilience that will be expected of them when they are out in the world. I support providing accommodations to help students think critically, to go at a speed that is challenging but realistic for them, and that there are many ways of learning. But at the end of the day—they must learn and master these skills and I am increasingly hearing colleagues in person and in the media who make excuses for why their students do not.

I have no answers, but I think all of us involved in science education should consider how easy we make the preparation for a career that can be hard.

I’m here to serve, so please reach out to me at [email protected] if you have any concerns or ideas about how TOS can better serve its members and the work they do.



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Benjamin Glass

I grew up in the beautiful State of Michigan, where I developed a deep appreciation for the natural world and a curiosity about its delicate and complex workings. While the Great Lakes will always hold a special place in my heart, I became fascinated by coral reefs as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan thanks to coursework in oceanography and coastal ecology. This interest prompted me to pursue a PhD at the University of Pennsylvania in Katie Barott’s lab, where I investigate mechanisms of coral and sea anemone early life processes (e.g., reproduction and development) and their sensitivity to human-induced climate change. I have worked in the lab and field on a diversity of organisms, and across several states and countries to further understand how climate stressors are affecting the ability of corals and sea anemones to produce future generations and thus sustain their threatened populations. Unfortunately, my research has shown that cnidarian reproduction and development is highly sensitive to climate stressors, but one chapter of my PhD in particular gives me hope for these important organisms. While investigating the effects of heat stress on larvae of the sea anemone Nematostella vectensis, I discovered that exposure to a low intensity of heat stress could actually improve organismal fitness and endow animals with an “environmental memory” (sensu Brown and Barott, 2023, ICB) that improved their heat tolerance upon repeated exposure (Glass et al., 2023, PeerJ). While we must still limit greenhouse gas emissions to ensure the health of the global ocean and its inhabitants, this finding suggests that some species may possess the resilience required to survive in a changing world.

Scott Loranger, Acoustician and Application Scientist, Kongsberg Discover


Re-Envisioning Ocean Sciences to Increase Belonging, Access, Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion to Harness the Power of Diverse Scholars in STEM

In December 2023, Oceanography published special issue on Building Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Ocean Sciences. By compiling the collective knowledge of the ocean science community into a resource addressing the issues, the hope was that it would inspire institutions to review practices and commit to meaningful positive changes and encourage diverse scholars to become and remain ocean science professionals. This session will bring together authors and guest editors from this special issue to stimulate discussion about how we can collectively create a more diverse, welcoming, safe, accessible, and inclusive environment for diverse scholars in ocean sciences, and STEM more broadly. Please consider submitting an abstract to this session on your program, whether it was highlighted in the special issue or not. Abstract deadline: July 31, 2024.

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