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Advancing Diversity in Marine Sciences

Nov 24, 2021 | Jacques Cousteau, New Jersey, Reserves

Written in collaboration with Amy Plantarich.

The inspiration for a new internship program at New Jersey’s Jacques Cousteau Reserve was simple: diversity in science is better for everybody. Not only is creating equal access important for advancing equality, science is stronger when everybody contributes.

In that spirit, the Reserve welcomed six undergraduates to pursue their own research last summer. Their experience was made possible through a partnership between the Jacques Cousteau Reserve and two programs from Rutgers University: the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) and the Idea, Design and Entrepreneurship Academy (i.d.e.a.).

The path to a career in the sciences is long and challenging. The goal of this partnership was to create opportunities for students from racial and ethnic minorities to explore the fields of marine and coastal science, education, and resource management, connect with mentors, and identify career development opportunities.

“This internship gave me a better understanding of the field of marine and coastal science, as well as relevant career opportunities.” says Austin Crawley, one of the interns from Rutgers University.

“The research that I dove into taught me a lot regarding computer automation’s role in advanced projects and the potential for it to help even more with future innovation.” says Jake Stocki, another intern from Rutgers University. “The program as a whole has inspired me tremendously in my studies, and I will forever be grateful for the opportunity and support.”

In addition to their own research, the interns were able to take advantage of field-based projects currently underway at the Jacques Cousteau Reserve and the New Jersey Aquaculture Innovation Center (NJAIC) and take part in professional development training. 

“This was my first opportunity to work in a research environment,” says Stocki. “It not only taught me a great deal about the topic I was working on but it also gave me a great respect for the work that is done at these facilities all over the country and the world.”

On August 13th, program partners and interns celebrated their experience with presentations of the students’ research projects. This prepared them to participate in the upcoming GS-LSAMP symposium on February 25th, 2022, when more than 200 New Jersey undergraduates are expected to present research.

“This internship made me more comfortable with presenting my work in a professional setting. I was able to network with undergraduate and graduate students all interested in various topics in marine and environmental science,” says Intern Jordan Tarleton. “I was able to gain mentors who have been helping me with professional development and finding new research opportunities to be a part of.”

Staff at all the participating institutions were grateful for the opportunity to work with these students and have already begun preparations for the next cohort of interns next summer. Anyone interested in learning more about last summer’s program or the plans for next year, please contact Amy Plantarich at plantarich@marine.rutgers.edu.

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ReservesJacques Cousteau, New JerseyAdvancing Diversity in Marine Sciences