JUNE 17, 2020


Diversity Efforts and TOS­—My Perspective

This month, I’d like to give all of you, as Student Members of TOS, a little view into the Society’s inner workings, via the Council and committees. So that you know where I’m coming from­—I personally stand in solidarity with protestors and the Black Lives Matter movement, and I strive to use my positions to promote diversity efforts and to amplify Black voices. This applies to my positions as a PhD student at WHOI, the president of the Society for Women in Marine Science (SWMS), and as Student Rep to the TOS Council. I want you to tell me when I make a mistake, and I want you to tell me how to advocate on your behalf to the TOS Council.

We had a Council meeting a couple of weeks ago. Among other things, we discussed new positions to be added to the TOS Council, changes that we need to make to bylaws, how to move forward with the strategic plan, and how the COVID-19 pandemic is feeding into gender-biased publication rates. After that call, I was disappointed with myself that I hadn’t brought up how TOS planned to respond to calls for increased equity for Black people in academia. So, when the statement from the three TOS Presidents (President-Elect Andone Lavery, Current President Martin Visbeck, and Past President Alan Mix) came out, I was surprised but heartened. My experience at WHOI is that our leadership does not take it upon themselves to speak up about race and identity issues without being prompted by younger or less powerful members of the community.

In the 18 months that I’ve been the TOS Student Rep, I have seen the Council take an inclusive approach to many tasks. The Council considered it imperative that the Ethics Committee have non-white members. We have overhauled our awards process to make it less biased and more inclusive. As often as possible, we issue open calls to the membership for nominations, input, and leadership roles.

As of Tuesday, June 16, 2020, an ad hoc committee has begun to craft a plan for examining The Oceanography Society through a lens of “JEDI,” or justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. We will draft a charge for a formal TOS committee and make that available for comment to all members.

Student members make up a huge proportion of TOS membership—your voice matters and you have power. Please get in touch with me if you want to get involved. You can join a committee, submit comments, suggest content or formatting changes for this newsletter, help with social media content, or even help me plan virtual events for TOS students. TOS is a small and nimble organization, and the leadership responds to comments from members.

— Chrissy

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CHRISTINE LEARY. Though my path to ocean science has been a winding one, along the way it has been academically and professionally rewarding to learn at the nexus of ocean/geoscience and policymaking. I carved a path forward by participating in a National Science Foundation-funded undergraduate summer research program in the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University. This experience helped me understand the value-enhancing contributions ocean observing systems make in documenting our changing ocean. More recently, with rapid de-globalization occurring as a result of the pandemic, I have explored the ways in which the shipping industry is improving emissions standards of marine energy systems and the expansion of clean energy renewables such as offshore wind farms in the northeastern United States. I have assessed the forecast of novel electric vehicle technology availability and, importantly, gained insights into the critical evolution of the US transportation sector. Many industrial practices impact the quality of our ocean. As citizens, our responsibility must be to advocate on behalf of vulnerable marine habitats. The time has come to enact climate policies in the form of mandated regulatory frameworks for holistic development. I am convinced that if we work together, my generation will leave this planet better than we found it.

Some data on our
Student Highlights

In the past 16 issues of Student News, we have highlighted:

» 10 women
» 6 men
» 4 international students
» At least 9 people from racial/​ethnic groups underrepresented in geoscience
» 5 undergraduates
» 1 master’s student
» 10 PhD students
» 15 universities represented

If you’d like to be highlighted, or can recommend someone, please email me at [email protected]!

Seen in Oceanography

Strategies for Increasing Diversity in the Ocean Science Workforce Through Mentoring
By Ashanti Johnson et al.
> Read the full article

The Ocean Science Social Diversity Challenge
By Matt Gilligan and Sue Ebanks
> Read the full article

Recommended reading

Race and Racism in the Geosciences
In a 2019 article in Nature Geoscience, Kuheli Dutt writes that “Progress towards diversification can only come with a concerted shift in mindsets and a deeper understanding of the complexities of race.”
> Read the full article

Summer reading LIST

Some suggestions for fun summer reading!

» The Broken Earth Trilogy By N.K. Jemisin

» In Cold Pursuit By Sarah Andrews

» To Be Taught, If Fortunate – By Becky Chambers

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