Keeping Diversity Afloat


Two scientists and two students from Scripps Institution of Oceanography were recently recognized with UC San Diego 2007 Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action and Diversity Awards.

Assistant Professor of Marine Chemistry Lihini Aluwihare, Executive Director of the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, Russell Chapman, and Scripps graduate students Serena Moseman and Elisa Maldonado were among the18 individuals and seven departments across UC San Diego that received awards this year for their contributions to diversity inside and outside the university community. All were honored at a Feb. 14 ceremony on the UCSD campus.

A review committee comprised of representatives from each UCSD vice chancellor area evaluated nominations of individuals, departments, and organizational units that demonstrated significant support of diversity, and recommended the award recipients for approval by Chancellor Marye Anne Fox.

Aluwihare was awarded for her dedication to introducing young women and underprivileged students to science at Scripps Oceanography. A National Science Foundation grant awarded to Aluwihare, which allows for the establishment of two annual high school summer internships at Scripps, is ensuring that a diverse group of high school students are given opportunities for hands-on experience in scientific research. Eight high school students have been invited to participate in her lab over the last five years, the first of whom recently graduated from UC San Diego and is now pursuing graduate study in earth sciences.

Chapman’s diversity award honors his work as Scripps’s acting diversity coordinator. A constant crusader for diversity, he established the Scripps/UC San Diego partnership with Howard University and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; both institutions with major minority-serving programs. He also initiated UCSD’s participation in the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Programs Research Conferences in 2006 and 2007. This year, Chapman visited Hampton University, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Howard University, and the University of Maryland Baltimore County to promote Scripps’s summer undergraduate research and graduate programs for underrepresented students. He also is the coordinator of the Scripps Diversity Team, actively involved in the Scripps Grassroots Diversity Action Working Group, and a mentor for undergraduate STARS students. STARS stands for Summer Training Academy for Research in the Sciences, a program that aims to increase the number of minority students with research experience and enhance their preparation for doctoral study.

Scripps graduate students Serena Moseman and Elisa Maldonado were the joint honorees from the vice chancellor area of marine sciences for helping to promote outreach to underrepresented students and for making the environment at Scripps welcoming and supportive for students from diverse backgrounds.

“I am happy to receive the diversity award in my last year of graduate studies at Scripps,” said Moseman. “To me, the award signifies a final appreciation from the university for my constant efforts to improve the accessibility of Scripps to our broader community.”

Both Moseman and Maldonado have served as graduate student advocates for undergraduate students participating in the STARS summer research program. They have also helped maintain contact with former STARS students and facilitated their involvement in Scripps outreach activities.

“I personally benefited from great mentors through programs similar to STARS, and I felt that it was my time to pay it forward,” said Maldonado. “I hope that this award inspires my students to continue paying it forward, and other people at Scripps to become involved.”

Moseman and Maldonado have also helped recruit STARS students and potential Scripps graduates at various venues, including the annual conference of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, and at the annual meeting of the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography.

“The awards received this year by four of us from Scripps highlight the fact that there is a lot of very exciting, very positive diversity awareness and outreach going on here,” said Chapman. “We four, and the many others at Scripps who are also very much involved in diversity matters, look forward to more progress and positive change, both at Scripps and UCSD.”

--Shannon Casey

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