Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego welcomes three new Community Engagement Fellows to join three returning fellows to support Scripps’ efforts to engage the Scripps community around equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). The Community Engagement Fellows, which are paid positions held by UC San Diego students, build important relationships through mentoring and being representatives of community, awareness, and equality to their peers.
The Fellows work closely with the Director of Diversity Initiatives for Scripps Oceanography, Keiara Auzenne, to create diversity workshops, trainings, and plan events. This program helps build community within Scripps to improve cultural awareness and education by working together with students, staff, faculty, and alumni.
"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. “I’m thrilled to have a group of new and returning Fellows to help us work towards our goals of creating a more inclusive community.”
Thanks to the efforts of the Community Engagement Fellows and the Scripps EDI team, the last cohort of Fellows successfully hosted over 100 community meetups for groups at Scripps including for the Asian Pacific Islander Middle Eastern Desi American (APIDMEDA), Black@Scripps, First Gen, International, Latinx/Chicanx, Multicultural, and Queer@Scripps communities.
These students were also instrumental in organizing and promoting a variety of events designed to educate and bring the Scripps community together during a turbulent and difficult year. These events included weekly Anti-Racism Reboot sessions tailored for the Scripps community to assist in furthering awareness, compassion, understanding, and engagement towards anti-racism. The Fellows led Community Conversations on issues including the BIPOC movement, First Amendment, and EDI Strategic Planning; planned and promoted DEEP Connections lectures (Developing Engagement through Existing Pipeline Connections), a series of lectures designed to explore the intersections of diversity and science by highlighting the endeavors of scientists who are underrepresented and marginalized scholars who are advocates and participants of EDI; and organized Black History Month programming, including showcasing a virtual timeline of Black contributions to Scripps.
The group also started publishing the monthly CARES Newsletter (Community, Awareness, Resources, Engagement, and Support) to engage the Scripps community and increase awareness for resources available. Additionally, Fellows aid with recruitment of prospective graduate students. Last year they hosted a series of Chat with a Scripps Scientist workshops on “How to Apply to Graduate School” for over 120 prospective students. These efforts are designed to recruit and welcome diverse students to apply at Scripps by demystifying the application and admissions processes.
The Fellows will be offering many of the programs stated above again this upcoming year, including DEEP Connections lectures, continuing to support the community meet-ups for various affinity groups, offering training on how to recognize and respond to microaggressions, and expanding the Chat with a Scripps Scientist programming focused on new student recruitment. Thanks to funding from the Heising-Simons Foundation, Scripps Tectonorockphysics Lab Manager and Research Data Analyst Carlene Burton will aid the EDI team and oversee the Fellows’ efforts to ramp up Chat with a Scripps Scientist programming.
The Fellows will also participate in new activities, including supporting the URGE pod at Scripps. Unlearning Racism in Geoscience, or URGE, is a National Science Foundation-supported program founded by new Scripps faculty member Vashan Wright. URGE is designed to deepen the knowledge of the effects of racism on the participation of people of color in geoscience and to develop and implement anti-racist policies on the institutional level that affect real change. In 2021, the URGE pod at Scripps comprised of approximately 50 students, staff, postdoctoral researchers and faculty, reviewed policies in place and made preliminary recommendations for improvements in the areas of racism complaints, demographics data, collaboration, admissions and hiring, safety and code of conduct, and the development of a resource map. In the coming year, the Scripps Pod aims to refine these recommendations with the support of EDI Fellows, working alongside institutional leaders on action and formally updating policies.
Meet the students selected as 2021 Community Engagement Fellows in the profiles below.
Noreen Garcia is a third-year marine chemistry and geochemistry PhD student. The focus of her research is to study isotopes that reveal a snapshot of ocean chemistry. The information gathered from the isotope data is used to understand and depict past chemical, physical, and biological cycles. Garcia is currently studying carbon-13, oxygen-18, and carbon-14 signatures from planktonic and benthic foraminifera that are preserved in sediment layers through time. The isotope signatures will hopefully give a better picture of the ocean circulation during the Last Glacial Maximum which will then help us understand future changes to our ocean today.
Prior to starting her career at Scripps Oceanography, Garcia obtained a bachelor's degree in chemistry and Earth system science at the University of California, Irvine. Her journey as a first-generation Salvadorian-American has led her to pursue work that would help students who identify as BIPOC reach similar goals. She grew up in inner city Los Angeles where the resources were very limited and had an abundance of obstacles, but with the help of organizations and individuals she was able to push her way through her time as an undergraduate and is currently pushing through graduate school. Garcia said that throughout the majority of her time in STEM, especially in geosciences, she has been the only person of color. Because of her background and struggles she has felt as if she was put in a box with people telling her she is incapable of achieving her dreams. Garcia wants to work towards building a more sustainable and long-term source of resources for BIPOC students who haven’t had many opportunities to explore oceanography. She hopes to become a professor of paleoceanography so she can open doors for BIPOC students who come from low-income areas and give them opportunities that they would not otherwise have. Garcia’s experiences growing up in low-income L.A. have instilled a drive in her to pursue work in equity, diversity, and inclusion. During her free time she loves to go on hikes, do arts and crafts, and go on long walks on the beach while listening to a great podcast.
Adeline Liem is a second-year undergraduate student at UC San Diego. She was born in Berkeley, Calif., before moving to San Diego to study cognitive science with a specialization in design and interaction. Inspired by individuals with a diverse collection of interests, cultural backgrounds, and perspectives, Liem pursued her passion for social justice with the guidance of mentors in both high school and college.
As she furthered her academic career, Liem recognized critical disparities in the classroom regarding cultural representation, especially in the STEM field. The conversation surrounding racial justice has become inseparable from environmentalism, highlighting the need for adequate cultural representation in the scientific world. In becoming a Community Engagement Fellow, Liem seeks to actively cultivate her own understanding of the intersections of racism and the environment while also amplifying BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and other underrepresented communities' voices. She is excited to continue pursuing her studies and incorporate her interest in sustainability with her career goals in web and product design. In her free time, you can find Liem engrossed in a book, discovering new music, and spending time with her friends.
Elizabeth Thanh Tam Nguyen
Elizabeth Thanh Tam Nguyen is a third-year undergraduate student majoring in marine biology. Growing up in San Diego, Calif., she has always been just a 20 minute drive away from the beach, and tried to go as often as she could. In high school, she volunteered at the Birch Aquarium at Scripps which introduced her to marine biology and science communication. Since then, she became interested in the intersection between marine science and community engagement, motivating her to engage more with the Scripps community and San Diego County. As a Community Engagement Fellow, she hopes to help create a safe environment for and reassure there is space for all Scripps community members, especially those who are impacted by some form of oppression (BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, etc.). In her free time, she enjoys taking images for photography projects, hanging out at the beach, and going to thrift shops.
Danielle McHaskell is a third-year marine biology PhD student and is a second-year Community Engagement Fellow. She studies invasion ecology and community ecology with a particular focus on seaweeds and how they may impact the native community within our local temperate ecosystems. She started her academic journey at Mt. San Antonio before transferring to California State Polytechnic University, Pomona to complete an undergraduate degree in biology with a zoology option and a master’s degree in biology.
With four years of teaching experience, McHaskell has solidified her career goals in academia where she hopes to provide support to marginalized people in STEM and share her enthusiasm for marine ecology as a professor. There were many instances in which she has faced systemic barriers, microaggressions, and discrimination as a first-generation, low-income, Black-biracial woman while pursuing both of her degrees. Unfortunately, she continues to face these challenges at Scripps along with fellow students, staff, and faculty members who may experience different forms of oppressions (e.g., racism, transphobia, ableism). Last year, she found the community meet-ups to be the most fulfilling. She has learned that having access to community and safe spaces in the place she works is important to her emotional well-being which increases her productivity. The faculty, staff, and fellow students she has connected with give space to process current events, offer requested advice, and share her joy. When she is able to make time for fun, McHaskell’s long-term hobbies include snorkeling, taking dance classes, tidepooling, reading, and pressing seaweed though she has recently picked up skating and surfing. She also spends time with her furry best friend, Tiramisu the Gerbarian Shepsky, who frequently is spotted at Scripps.
Anaí Novoa is a sixth-year PhD candidate in the marine biology program and a second-year Community Engagement Fellow. For her dissertation research, she 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. Novoa received her bachelor’s degree in biology from the 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. Her dedication to equity, diversity, and inclusion is grounded within her intersectional identity as a neurodivergent woman of color belonging to an immigrant working-class community. Novoa fully embodies sustained commitment to build a more equitable and inclusive climate for all minoritized groups in higher education and the biological sciences.
She was raised in City Heights, a San Diego community known for its ethnic diversity. Novoa’s experiences as a first-generation Mexican-American and first-generation college student have shaped the kind of scientist and aspiring professor she is working on becoming. She is deeply committed to fostering minority student participation with opportunities and exposure in academia, and is excited about the direct application of the work she will be doing as a fellow. During her free time, Novoa loves to spend time with her family (cooking Mexican dishes and laughing), playing with her pitbull Kylo Renaldo Novoa-Rosales, mentoring students from her community (as part of Ocean Discovery Institute’s programming), and practicing martial arts.
Nilusha Wanniappa is a fourth-year environmental systems undergraduate student 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 deeply interested in making science and the ocean accessible to everyone with the help of the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Fellowship leading her to success. She spends most of her free time in the ocean 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 https://scripps.ucsd.edu/diversity.
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 ucsd.edu.