NOAA Seeks Minority Involvement in Oceanic Research

By Stewart, Pearl | Diverse Issues in Higher Education, December 4, 2014 | Go to article overview

NOAA Seeks Minority Involvement in Oceanic Research


Stewart, Pearl, Diverse Issues in Higher Education


When Dr. Larry Alade is out on the ocean dressed in a baseball cap, hoodie and fisherman's overalls, he looks nothing like a Ph.D. biologist with an impressive research portfolio. Dr. Lonnie Gonsalves appears to be a proud angler hoisting his latest catch in a recent photo, instead of a scientist studying the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem.

Gonsalves and Alade are researchers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Both earned their doctorate degrees at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore through NOAA's Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center. They recently returned to their alma mater to serve as mentors and advisers for students attending a conference as part of its Educational Partnership Program (EPP), which pairs the agency with universities serving underrepresented minorities.

Gonsalves grew up in a military family in eastern North Carolina "where there were plenty of woods and creeks and natural habitats to explore. For me, it wasn't until I got introduced to this program that I found out I could use [those] interests and mold them into a successful career."

Alade, who conducts research at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, says the EPP program "was the gateway to the career opportunity I have today as a stock assessment scientist."

Both scientists say they agreed to participate in the biennial conference in October because they wanted to encourage undergraduate students to pursue careers in oceanic research and to share the experiences they had earning their degrees while doing research for NOAA.

Alade moderated a session on preparing effective CVs and Gonsalves spoke on building collaborative professional relationships.

Since its funding began in 2000, the EPP program with minority-serving institutions has produced 1,600 graduates in NOAA-mission fields from the nation's colleges and universities, including 173 doctorates earned in fields that NOAA describes as its "mission disciplines," according to Jacqueline Rousseau, EPP supervisory program manager.

"NOAA is looking to have a pipeline of graduates from which to select when looking for its future workforce," Rousseau explains. "There is no guarantee of a position--but we're looking for a pool of qualified candidates eligible to apply for NOAA positions." She says NOAA is interested in a broad range of STEM disciplines in the physical sciences as well as some social science disciplines. …

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