Scripps Receives $350,000 Grant to Support Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Three-year Heising-Simons Foundation grant will bolster outreach and recruitment of underrepresented minority students

Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego has received a $350,000 grant  from the Heising-Simons Foundation to support equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) programs on campus. 

The three-year grant will provide funding to a comprehensive outreach and recruitment program to foster a diverse student pipeline in geosciences, cultivate a sense of belonging among underrepresented minority students, and help Scripps Oceanography build meaningful relationships with students from backgrounds that have traditionally been underrepresented in STEM, and especially in geosciences.

“Having the support from the Heising-Simons Foundation is going to allow us to deepen our work, increase our impact and reach a broader audience of folks,” said Keiara Auzenne, director of Diversity Initiatives at Scripps Oceanography.

The field of geoscience is the least diverse discipline in all of STEM fields both at the student and scholarly levels. The geosciences have the lowest number of doctorate recipients from underrepresented students in all of the sciences. Thanks to the new funding, the EDI team at Scripps aims to create a more inclusive environment on campus, which is the long-term goal of their mission. 

This funding will increase the number of people recruited to attend Scripps through various outreach approaches, which include “Chat with a Scripps Scientist,” “Peers Offering Community (POC) Day,” the Community Engagement Fellows program and funding for support staff. The “Chat with a Scripps Scientist” program targets students applying to graduate school through a series of workshops to orient them to the application process, then connecting students with potential faculty advisors. Some of the students who participated in the workshops last year are now first-year graduate students at Scripps. “POC Day” would invite diverse students to spend an extra day on the Scripps campus during the Open House event, giving them the opportunity to connect with other diverse graduate students while exploring the cultural diversity of the broader San Diego community. 

The grant will support the staffing efforts needed to accomplish the goal for inclusivity. The three-year funding will support Carlene Burton, Scripps’ Tectonorockphysics Lab Manager and Research Data Analyst who is focused on new student recruitment to aid the EDI team. She will oversee the efforts to ramp up this program with support from two part-time Community Engagement Fellows.

The Heising-Simons Foundation describes itself as a family foundation with a focus on advancing sustainable solutions in climate and clean energy, groundbreaking research in science, enhancing the education of young learners, and supporting human rights for all people. 

Thanks to funding from the grant, “Chat with a Scripps Scientist” will be able to expand the outreach to younger students such as university freshmen and sophomores who may never have thought about careers in oceanography. These workshops are designed to engage students from minority-serving institutions (MSIs) such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs). Program leaders will connect students with crucial skill-building and networking opportunities such as summer research internships like Scripps Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF)

Danielle McHaskell, a third-year marine biology PhD student and second-year Community Engagement Fellow who is very involved in the “Chat with a Scripps Scientist” program, said she is relieved and excited about the Heising-Simons Foundation grant. 

“It feels good because there is going to be this financial support to help us continue to help students and give back to our communities,” said McHaskell. 

Grants like this from the Heising-Simons Foundation contribute to the Campaign for UC San Diego—a university-wide comprehensive fundraising effort concluding June 30, 2022. In addition to the Heising-Simons Foundation grant, the American Geophysical Union (AGU) recently awarded Scripps status as a partner in the AGU Bridge program. This program also aims to increase diversity within university geosciences departments by enabling Scripps to connect with underrepresented applicants who may not have otherwise applied. 

The goal for these programs is to recruit more underrepresented minority students to Scripps graduate programs, create deeper personal connections with students interested in geoscience and navigate them to academic success by addressing key barriers to participation and demystifying the graduate school experience.

To learn more about Equity, Diversity and Inclusion efforts at Scripps, please visit

About Scripps Oceanography

Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego is one of the world’s most important centers for global earth science research and education. In its second century of discovery, Scripps scientists work to understand and protect the planet, and investigate our oceans, Earth, and atmosphere to find solutions to our greatest environmental challenges. Scripps offers unparalleled education and training for the next generation of scientific and environmental leaders through its undergraduate, master’s and doctoral programs. The institution also operates a fleet of four oceanographic research vessels, and is home to Birch Aquarium at Scripps, the public exploration center that welcomes 500,000 visitors each year.

About UC San Diego

At the University of California San Diego, we embrace a culture of exploration and experimentation. Established in 1960, UC San Diego has been shaped by exceptional scholars who aren’t afraid to look deeper, challenge expectations and redefine conventional wisdom. As one of the top 15 research universities in the world, we are driving innovation and change to advance society, propel economic growth and make our world a better place. Learn more at

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