Written by Kristen Kusek, Former Communications Director for USF CMS
A cross-departmental team from USF is one of four groups chosen nationwide to participate in a new National Science Foundation (NSF) pilot program called All-ABOARD, which stands for “Alliance-Building Offshore to Achieve Resilience and Diversity.” The goal of this two-year program hosted by Columbia University to advance justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) initiatives in STEM.
The USF team, named “A Bull’s Eye for JEDI,” includes members from the USF College of Marine Science (USF CMS), College of Education, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the College of Engineering. The All-ABOARD experience includes a series of online training webinars (kicked off last week!) and culminates in a weeklong “retreat,” half of which will take place aboard a research vessel operated by the U.S. Academic Fleet. The program’s leaders will provide continued support and consultation through the fall of 2022 to help ensure accountability amongst each team.
“This program is timely and aligns well with our strategic goals and USF’s Principles of Community,” said Tom Frazer, dean of the USF CMS. “Marine science is one of the least diverse STEM fields, and while we have a solid history of work to improve diversity in the College, there is so much more to do.”
The City of St. Petersburg recently announced it will contribute $125,000 to the University of South Florida Foundation to help enhance diversity in the ocean sciences.
The All-ABOARD program aims to build on the power of shipboard experiences and leverage successful professional development models to provide cross-generational teams of geoscience leaders with the tools they need to advance JEDI initiatives on their home campuses. Each project team includes four members representing different career levels within the institution.
The USF team’s goal is to build upon its work to date and develop new strategies to increase the number of underrepresented students in ocean science, including road maps for improving student retention.
“When scientists get on a research vessel, barriers come down,” said Brad Rosenheim, USF’s team leader and associate professor in the College of Marine Science. “Established senior scientists and neophyte oceanography students, as well as everyone in between, share shoulder-to-shoulder work experience, confined quarters, meals, and practically everything together while aboard a ship.”
The other bonus is work can get done without the usual distractions of life on land – like phones ringing and mail to be sorted. The All-ABOARD cruise won’t involve science research, but it will provide a uniquely bonding space conducive to focus and conversation.
“Students have more power to affect change than we realize,” said USF team member and anthropology graduate student Kris-An Hinds, “and collective student groups can be unstoppable forces. With the tools, support, and resources provided by All-ABOARD, I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to push forward meaningful change at USF.”
The USF team that prepared the application includes:
- Dr. Ana Arellano*, Diversity Recruiter, Instructor, Chemical Oceanographer, College of Marine Science
- April Ellis*, Graduate student, College of Marine Science
- Kris-An Hinds*, Graduate student, College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Anthropology
- Dr. Ruthmae Sears*, Associate Professor of Mathematics Education, College of Education
- Michelle Platz, Graduate student, College of Engineering
- Dr. Brad Rosenheim, Associate Professor, College of Marine Science
- Dr. David Naar, Associate Dean and Professor, College of Marine Science
- Sarah Grasty-Prueitt, Senior Biological Scientist and Education Outreach Coordinator, College of Marine Science
- Dr. Dana Thompson Dorsey, Director / Professor, College of Education / David C. Anchin Center for the Advancement of Teaching
- Dr. Robert Potter, Senior Associate Dean / Professor, College of Arts & Science (Chemistry)
- Dr. Maya Trotz, Professor, College of Engineering
- Megan Kramer, Graduate student, College of Engineering
*Indicates members of the core, four-person team who will be the main participants in the program. They will report back to the larger group and everyone will work collectively strategize meaningful JEDI initiatives at USF.
Lamont’s Sharon Cooper is leading the All-ABOARD project along with Benjamin Keisling, a postdoctoral research fellow in geochemistry.
“We’re trying to look at these offshore experiences in a new way, as an opportunity to bring people together in mutual trust and nurture every participant into the kind of leader that all geoscientists need to be,” said Keisling. “That is at the core of what we’re doing.”
The other groups chosen by the All-ABOARD project team in a competitive application process are from Coastal Carolina University, Salisbury University, and West Virginia University.