Over 100 members of the S.C. coastal science and management communities came together at the Consortium’s inaugural Research Symposium on May 11-12 to share knowledge and explore the vital intersection of science and diversity, equity, and inclusion. The theme of the symposium, Science + Inclusion = Solutions, was interspersed throughout the program, co-hosted by The Citadel’s James B. Near Center for Climate Studies. The keynote speaker was Claudia Benitez-Nelson, associate dean for Instruction, Community Engagement, and Research at University of South Carolina, who addressed “Bridging Research and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Coastal Marine Ecosystems.” A mixture of round-table discussions and presentations by researchers allowed participants to network in person after a long period of remote connections. Students and professionals delivered poster presentations at an evening reception, with a special address from Rick DeVoe, the Consortium’s former executive director, on the importance of student research and mentoring.
The symposium also highlighted needs and opportunities to enhance diversity in coastal- and marine-science fields. An engaging panel discussion focused on the “Intentional Intersection of DEI and Research for Impactful Outcomes.” Panel members were Alli Crandell, interim director of the Joyner Institute for Gullah and African Diaspora Studies at Coastal Carolina University; Marilyn Hemmingway, president and CEO of the Gullah Geechee Chamber of Commerce; Charissa Owens, director of Diversity Education and Training at the College of Charleston; and Atiya Stokes-Brown, vice president for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Coastal Carolina University.
An immersive training, “Incorporating DEI in Collaborative Research,” was facilitated by Latesha Murray with University of South Carolina’s S.C. Collaborative on Race, after which working groups convened to reflect on insights gained from the panel discussion and training session.
The closing reception featured the “M. Richard DeVoe Student Poster Award,” which went to Shannon Bley, a graduate student in marine biology at College of Charleston, for her poster titled, “Stormwater Detention Ponds as a Pathway for Downstream Microplastic and Tire Wear Particle Transport.”
The Consortium will continue its work to promote Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at all levels of research and engagement, which was further enhanced by information gained through this symposium. Based on enthusiastic reviews, the Consortium intends to host a symposium for the S.C. research community annually. For more information, contact Brita Jessen, Interdisciplinary Research and Partnerships lead, via email or by phone at (843) 953-6417.
Special thanks to Brita Jessen for writing this article and to Emmi Palenbaum, graduate assistant, for providing photos.