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EOAS DEI Committee

Mission and Values

The EOAS Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee grew out of student and postdoctoral researcher requests to address the discrepancy between the demographic composition of the EOAS department and our country, and as part of the greater conversation of race in America, during the summer of 2020.

The goals of the DEI Committee are to identify barriers to the retention and recruitment of diverse populations of undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and faculty, as well as literature-based solutions to improve diversity of our department. We recognize that while well-intentioned, previous efforts have yielded little improvement in diversifying the Earth Sciences, necessitating a renewed commitment to this goal using new and different tools. A long-term commitment is required to improve and sustain a department culture that supports diverse Earth Scientists.

Additionally, we seek to provide a range of resources to the community, including literature describing best practices, funding opportunities for undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and faculty. In addition to the literature below, one useful site that maintains up-to-date literature and a range of best practices is the University of Michigan’s ADVANCE Program

Committee Composition

The committee is composed of the core EOAS constituencies: graduate students, postdoctoral fellows/researchers, faculty, and staff. The committee seeks to achieve a balance of demographic representation when possible and a commitment to active participation. During the recruitment process to committee membership, preference will be given to members who will balance representation within the committee, including diversity in gender, stage in career, and department within EOAS.

Faculty Members:

Markus Huettel – To move forward, we must:

  • Embed DEI in EOAS strategic plan, bylaws, daily operations, and thinking.
  • Replace bean counting by a comprehensive approach for assessing merit, and achieve a social order that embraces DEI.
  • Make clearly visible how EOAS establishes, maintains, and secures DEI, and how everyone contributes.

    Angela Knapp – We live in an increasingly competitive, global society. To be competitive, we need to seek out the most talented staff, students, post docs and faculty members. There is no compelling reason to think one gender or race is inherently more talented than another. So, if our departmental demographics don’t reflect those of the community we serve, we are losing talent. Institutions that recruit and retain that talent will out-compete those that don’t. My goal on the DEI committee is to help the EOAS department create an environment that allows us to compete for and retain that talent.

    Sven Kranz – As member of the EOAS DEI committee I work towards a more inclusive environment within our department and facilitate the implementation of best practices to better support minorities on every level and thereby strengthen diversity and equity. As a researcher and teacher I actively raise interest in science in K-12 outreach events, in the university classroom and as an advisor in the lab. I also actively collaborate on an NSF funded project with FAMU, a HBCU and hope to strengthen this collaboration in the future. I strongly support the idea that only a diverse society, where everyone has the same chances from an early stage, can release its fullest potential. I understand that in order to get there we have to actively cultivate diversity with an inclusive approach and provide new opportunities to those who we have been left behind in the past.

    Postdoctoral Researchers:

    Derrick Vaughn – Recent events of racial inequality have led me to become invested and examine my role in improving diversity, equity, and inclusion of minoritized individuals within my work in the Earth Sciences. Through this committee, I’m continuing to learn about improving DEI while also working to change policies and practices that excluded individuals from being successful in academia. By implementing these changes, I hope our department creates an inclusive environment that will lead to better and more creative science.

    Matthew Ware – Recognizing and promoting diversity within higher education and the workforce is critical to our global society’s success. The problems we face today, and those we will face in the future, cannot be solved by a single person or from a single point of view. Every individual has the potential to contribute to the identification and resolution of these problems, and through this DEI committee, I hope to help remove existing barriers which hinder equitable and just opportunities for all individuals seeking to get involved.

    Graduate Students:

    Virginia Biede – As a graduate student at EOAS and a member of the DEI committee, I am hoping to increase equity through admissions as well as the retention of minoritized students. My current focus includes the admissions practices of the department, creating a graduate student club for minoritized students, and developing a career development course focusing on transferable programming and GIS skills.

    Christian Gfatter – I am aware of the economic challenges that graduate students face and I would like to increase the opportunities available to prospective/current EOAS graduate students. At my previous institution, there were endowed fellowships. Some of these were for multiple years, possibly for the entire length of time in the program, and others were “to be applied for” annually. I recruited undergraduate assistants and encouraged promising students to consider their graduate program in oceanography. Financial considerations are often a major barrier even with such fellowships; however, I believe improving this aspect would increase the pool of applicants. I am also willing to assist with other initiatives and might be able to bring a different perspective or new ideas. I think that oceanography and earth science are important to everyone. The more we can show that all kinds of people are involved, more will get involved. So, I would like to help EOAS in that process.