Scripps Welcomes Eight New Community Engagement Fellows

Community Engagement Fellows dedicate their efforts to developing equity, diversity, and inclusion for the Scripps Institution of Oceanography community

Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego will welcome eight new Community Engagement Fellows to support Scripps’ efforts to develop and engage the Scripps community around equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). The role of the Community Engagement Fellows is to educate their peers on current issues, and serve as catalysts for creating impactful change as mentors of empathy and representatives that advocate for community, awareness, and equality.

Funding for the expansion of the Fellows program is made possible through a one-time grant from the Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at UC San Diego and ongoing support from the Director's Office and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography Education Department. 

The fellows are key in assisting Scripps’ Director of Diversity Initiatives Keiara Auzenne in organizing diversity workshops and training, and planning of various events and programs including Black Excellence at Scripps during the Winter Quarter, Scripps Day in the Spring, and annual cultural celebrations. These programs are designed to foster community building and collaboration, improve campus climate, build professional skills and networks, and enhance cultural awareness and education by engaging Scripps students, staff, faculty and alumni in a variety of activities and events.  

"Fellows have been instrumental in fostering and rebuilding trust amongst the graduate student population, as well as supporting the implementation of key EDI programming for the Scripps community, such as Implicit Bias training and Community Conversations," said Auzenne, who has served as the head of equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives at Scripps since 2016.

Some of the most successful events have been workshops that confront issues faced by people of color in academia and society, and regularly scheduled town hall meetings to address issues of importance to the entire Scripps Oceanography community. Community Engagement Fellows are also available to meet one-on-one with Scripps community members to hear input and suggestions on how to strengthen and further engagement and support.

Each year, fellows gain valuable leadership, community-building and project management skills while giving back to the Scripps and UC San Diego community, all of which works to create and foster a positive and welcoming climate where we value, include, and support all at Scripps. Doing so enables the fellows to make conscious and well-informed decisions that benefit and foster the Scripps community. 

The eight students selected as 2020 Community Engagement Fellows are as follows:


Graduate Students: 


Julia Chavarry

Julia Chavarry is a second-year PhD student in biological oeanography with an interest in how human impacts and environmental change affect marine food webs. She primarily grew up in New Jersey before moving to Baltimore to start her undergraduate degree at Johns Hopkins University, where she double majored in earth & planetary sciences and behavioral biology. As a student, she began to recognize the interwoven and complex relationships between humans and the ocean. During her undergraduate research experiences, she developed an interest in the intersection between marine science and policy. 

Developing a science-based policy to manage ocean resources and ecosystems is complicated: this process necessitates the collaboration of diverse researchers, policymakers, and community members, each with their own unique and valuable experiences and perspectives. She was drawn to the EDI Fellowship because she recognized the need for increasing the number of people from different backgrounds and cultures in the scientific process, and specifically in oceanography to accomplish the goals of marine conservation in an ethical and just manner. She hopes to focus a significant portion of her time as an EDI fellow engaging with underrepresented San Diegan students in STEM through the DEEP connections initiative to increase student access to science and research opportunities. During her free time, she loves to scuba dive in kelp forests, snuggle her cat, Sebastian, and play the ukulele.


Erica Ferrer

Erica Ferrer is a fourth-year PhD student in marine biology where she studies small-scale fisheries ecology in Baja California, Mexico. She is interested in various interdisciplinary topics related to marine conservation, climate change, and social-ecological wellbeing. She sees them as inextricably linked to systemic issues of advancements in equity, diversity, and inclusion--within academia and society at large. 

Prior to beginning at Scripps, she completed a B.S. in marine biology and a minor in chemistry at the University of California Santa Cruz, where she participated in a STEM diversity program known as ACE—which provided her with a solid group of friends and connected her to a community of diverse scholars whose research interests ran the gamut. Furthermore, she learned how important it is to have mentors who can help guide one’s path into professional STEM. What’s more, she felt very lucky to participate in undergraduate research. Eventually, she learned how to scuba dive for science, something she also does for fun. Now at Scripps, she is excited to contribute to the EDI team as a Community Engagement Fellow, and one project she’s particularly jazzed about is DIVERsity: a program designed to increase access to professional dive training for Scripps students from diverse backgrounds.


Danielle McHaskell

Danielle McHaskell is a second-year PhD student in marine biology studying how invasive seaweeds species may impact the native community within our local temperate ecosystems. She started her academic journey at Mt. San Antonio College (Mt. SAC) before transferring to California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (CPP) to complete an undergraduate degree in biology with a zoology option. At Mt. SAC, a foundational biology course sparked her interest leading her to pursue undergraduate research during a REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) and an independent undergraduate research project at CPP that later developed into her master’s thesis. Successfully earning her master’s and bachelor’s degrees can largely be attributed to the multiple forms of support from the RISE-MBRS-NIH fellowship

Her experience in RISE as well as her four years of teaching experience at CPP and Mt. SAC solidified her career goal in academia where she hopes to provide support to underrepresented groups in STEM and share her enthusiasm for marine ecology as a professor. There were many instances in which she faced systemic barriers, microaggressions, and discrimination as a first generation, low-income, Black-biracial woman pursuing a STEM degree so as an EDI fellow, she hopes to work towards removing these barriers and helping create an inclusive environment. When she is able to make time for rest and fun, Danielle enjoys snorkeling, taking dance classes, tidepooling, reading, pressing seaweed, and wrestling her Gerberian Shepsky, Tiramisu (aka Cake-Dog).


Ivan Moreno 

Ivan Moreno is a third-year PhD student in marine biology studying the microbiology of thermophilic environments. More specifically, he looks at the temperature and ecological constraints of life in microbial mats found in terrestrial hot springs. Other scientific interests of his include astrobiology, geobiology and genomics of microbes. 

He finished his B.S. in cellular and molecular biology at California State University, Dominguez Hills in 2018, where he did research in Dr. Karin Kram’s lab and was attending Long Beach City College prior to that. His hometown is Long Beach, California, and he grew up in North Long Beach. Being raised in North Long Beach meant attending predominantly minority filled home schools. Afterward, attending Long Beach City College and CSU Dominguez Hills felt like an extension of an environment he was already very familiar with. 

While he was aware of these demographics not being the norm at more wealthy institutions, the urgency to participate and become an advocate in this space for those with similar stories to his came out of his participation in the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program at Scripps back in 2017. Becoming an EDI fellow is one of the ways that he plans on creating a space for underrepresented students and faculty in STEM. When he’s not focused on science or EDI related issues, he enjoys playing with his dog, Lava.   

Anaí Novoa

Anaí Novoa is a third-year PhD student in marine biology who received her bachelor’s degree in biology from UC Santa Barbara and a master’s degree in marine science from the University of San Diego, where she conducted a spatial and temporal assessment of bivalve community changes in southern California and northern Baja California estuaries. For her dissertation research, Anaí is investigating the interplay between parasitism and host biogeography. She is particularly interested in understanding how parasites are distributed throughout the geographical ranges of their hosts.

Anaí was raised in City Heights, a San Diego community known for its ethnic diversity. Her experiences as a first-generation Mexican-American and first-generation college student has shaped the kind of scientist and aspiring professor she is working on becoming. She is deeply committed to fostering the participation of minority student participation with opportunities and exposure in academia and is excited about the direct application of the work she will be doing as an EDI fellow. During her free time, Anaí loves to spend time with her family (cooking Mexican dishes and laughing), playing with her fur baby (Kylo Renaldo Novoa-Rosales, her adorable pitbull), mentoring students from her community (as part of Ocean Discovery Institute’s programming), and practicing martial arts. 


Undergraduate Students:


Lily Jorrick

Lily Jorrick is a fourth-year undergraduate student in marine biology with an interest in fisheries and sustainability. She is originally from Northern California and attended community colleges in both Northern and Southern California before transferring to UC San Diego. As an undergraduate, she participated in research in fish physiology and benthic ecology. After completing her B.S., she hopes to pursue a doctoral degree focusing on the impacts of climate change on fisheries, and the implications that climate issues have for environmental and social justice. The Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Fellowship is meaningful to Lily because it enables her to examine and change the accessibility of science education and research to all demographics at Scripps, and she is incredibly excited to develop the initiatives involved with this fellowship. In her free time, she enjoys reading, swimming in the ocean, and hiking with her dog. 


Carmen Lopez

Carmen Lopez is a fourth-year undergraduate student in environmental systems and Policy from the San Francisco Bay Area. During her time as an undergrad, she participated in community engagement related to sustainability initiatives at UC San Diego, as well as having hosted weekly discussions about different social justice-related issues. She is passionate about intersectional environmentalism which is about advocating for both the planet and the people who live on it. She believes that a better understanding of how systems of oppression have shaped our society can help create a more just and effective policy. Her dream is to do work related to international environmental policy, but she is still exploring different career interests. She is thrilled to be a Scripps Community Engagement, Diversity, and Inclusion Fellow because the intersection between environmental science and social justice is crucial in helping combat the climate crisis effectively. Her goal during this fellowship is to share her passion for environmental justice through community engagement with the students, staff, and faculty at Scripps. In her free time, she likes to play the guitar, practice Spanish, write, and hike. 


Nilusha Wanniappa

Nilusha Wanniappa is a third-year undergraduate student in environmental systems with an interest in the interactions between coastal communities and marine ecosystems. She grew up exploring the beaches of Southern California and is happy to pursue a career learning about and protecting the ocean and its inhabitants. She plans to continue her studies in marine biology, environmental justice, and the effects of climate change on highly impacted communities after attaining her undergraduate degree. During her time at Scripps, she learned a lot about the intersection between social equality and the environment, and different barriers to STEM. She is incredibly interested in helping to make science and the ocean accessible to everyone, and the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Fellowship is a brilliant way to work on this at Scripps Oceanography. She spends most of her free time in the ocean, where you can find her surfing, scuba diving, or swimming! 


To learn more about becoming a Community Engagement Fellow and equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, visit

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