The Women and Minorities in Science Group (WMIS) at Scripps Institution of Oceanography has been recognized as a recipient of a UC San Diego Inclusive Excellence Award. The 26th Annual Inclusive Excellence Awards recognize leadership in advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) on campus, and were awarded during a virtual ceremony on Feb. 2, 2021.
WMIS is a collection of colleagues at Scripps dedicated to promoting EDI within the Scripps community and within STEM. WMIS hosts events that are open to the entire Scripps community and aim to educate and empower Scripps graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. They also help create a supportive and welcoming community through professional development events, film and documentary screenings, multicultural potlucks, community volunteering and more. In addition, they organize EDI-focused initiatives such as the new student welcome event, open house advice solicitation, and student advocacy projects.
“I’d like to congratulate WMIS for being recognized for their work promoting inclusive excellence and diversity at Scripps,” said Scripps Director Margaret Leinen. “Not only do their events and conversations promote the university’s Principles of Community, they help empower underrepresented students at Scripps to share their experiences and take action, leading to positive change.”
One of WMIS’ most popular events is “Growing Up in Science,” a conversation series about the path to becoming and being a scientist, but that isn’t about science. At each event, a featured speaker shares their life story, with a focus on struggles, failures, doubts, detours and weaknesses on their way to pursuing a career in science. “Growing Up in Science” regularly features underrepresented students, postdocs, faculty, and alumni, creating a space to talk about the unique journeys, successes and challenges faced by a diverse group of scientists.
“WMIS Leadership is extremely proud that we as a group are being recognized for our efforts on campus,” said Ariel Pezner, a Scripps PhD candidate and co-director of WMIS. “We’re grateful for the efforts of those who came before us leading WMIS and we are looking forward to growing our community. We plan to continue offering events that foster an equitable and inclusive community at Scripps.”
Even through the pandemic, WMIS continues to provide ongoing support and community-building through virtual events and activities that foster cultural competency, encourage respect for others, and celebrate diversity. In addition to Pezner, Alaina Smith also serves as co-director, with Anela Akiona, Erica Ferrer, Allison Ho, Benjamin Klempay, Tricia Light, Danielle McHaskell, Eric Snyder, and Kayla Wilson serving on the current WMIS leadership team.
Past recipients of the Inclusive Excellence Award at Scripps include Keiara Auzenne, the director of diversity initiatives who received the award in 2020. In 2018, Professor Jennifer MacKinnon received the award in honor of her participation in the Mentoring Physical Oceanography Women to Increase Retention program and graduate student Alyssa J. Griffin received the award as well, honoring her previous leadership of WMIS and work as a community engagement fellow. Student-run and volunteer-led Rosa Parks Tutoring Program, created in 2010 by Scripps graduate students, was also honored in 2017 for providing tutoring to Rosa Parks Elementary students in City Heights.
Undergraduate student examines red blood cell activity in teleost fish