Editor’s note: In 2021, the ARM User Executive Committee (UEC) created four subgroups to continue previous work and start new efforts to broaden community outreach. Over the next four months, each subgroup chair will introduce their subgroup, share their subgroup’s ideas and recommendations to ARM, and ways in which the ARM community can engage with subgroup members. In this blog post, Scott Collis introduces the Undergraduate Engagement with a Focus on Diversity (UEFD) subgroup.
Workforce development is a focus of the U.S. Department of Energy. DOE has always taken a long view on science. ARM is, after all, over 30 years old, and some of our users and staff were not born when our first measurements were taken. Inspiring, mentoring, and training is the duty of all of us at a national lab or university.
Recent events have sharpened our awareness that not everyone, as they say in Australia, has a “fair go.” While actions and policies can partially ameliorate this issue, an effective action we can all take is to focus on inspiring, mentoring, and training a diverse pool of undergraduate students. To this end, the UEC formed the Undergraduate Engagement with a Focus on Diversity (UEFD) subgroup.
Ideas and Recommendations to the ARM Facility
Our subgroup has met once via Zoom, and we have had great conversations using Slack and email. Some very early conclusions from the group are:
- We should coordinate undergraduate interns across the DOE labs involved in ARM. This includes advertising opportunities such as Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internships (SULI) to university programs and expand outreach to a broad range of institutions. The goal is to make sure students who would benefit from an internship and would, in turn, benefit the facility hear about the SULI opportunity.
- When we have interns at the labs, we should coordinate seminars and activities to expose students to the wider ARM facility. This could involve ARM leadership and even DOE.
- We should look at how we can package ARM data, tools, and products into teachable modules for use by the academic community. This would open up new ways for students to gain exposure to ARM data and to learn about—and become excited by—the facility, thus seeding the idea of working for ARM in their minds.
- We should continue to engage professional societies (e.g., the American Geophysical Union and American Meteorological Society) and their constituent committees.
In the area of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), the group had the following thoughts:
- The DOE Office of Science is starting to collect demographic data on investigators submitting research applications to DOE. When this data is collected over a long enough period, it could provide some insight as to demographic trends. ARM has not collected demographic data on users or staff in the past. The subgroup thinks collecting demographic data would be useful, but we acknowledge the challenges in the collection and analysis of this data.
- Scientists within DOE’s earth science programs are experts in doing earth science; we are not experts in social science. ARM should look to engage with professionals in crafting DEI initiatives. Furthermore, ARM should engage with, and leverage, DOE programs focused on DEI.
- One way we can deliver on the President’s Justice40 Initiative is to ensure that those underrepresented communities most affected by climate change can participate in the research of the science underlying it. To this end, we suggest working with historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and minority-serving institutions (MSIs), specifically on engagements with students and faculty. This can be helped by identifying institutions with earth science programs, even if nascent or not perfectly aligned. This will allow targeting of the suggestions above to a diverse community. DOE is working on this and has some specific programs in its Office of Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists that ARM should leverage.
- We cannot build a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace without tackling issues with harassment. ARM has made efforts here and has a code of conduct. However, individual investigators may not have access to resources to support them in their efforts to create an inclusive environment during fieldwork. The subgroup sees opportunities here by leveraging work done during the RELAMPAGO (and other) field campaigns as detailed in Fischer et al. 2021 as well as the ADVANCEGeo initiative. The subgroup suggests ARM continues to highlight the code of conduct and stamp out harassment where it sees it. We also call attention to the DOE Office of Science’s DEI commitment statement.
- While we acknowledge that the UEC is an advisory committee to the ARM facility and not ASR, we believe it would be productive to have an invited speaker talk about DEI at the next ARM/ASR joint meeting. This speaker should be a trained professional from outside our community. This would send a message to our community that DEI is important to ARM.
Engage With the UEFD Subgroup
We have started some actions around the SULI intern class of summer 2022. Unfortunately, our efforts started too late to be particularly effective at influencing the intake of SULIs as applications closed January 12 (before the publication of this blog post). However, if you are associated with ARM, have interns, and are interested in engaging, we want to hear from you. Also, if you have connections to programs that we can leverage to give underrepresented undergraduates opportunities to be mentored, we want to hear from you, particularly HBCUs and MSIs.
As folks may know, I lead the forecasting efforts for the TRacking Aerosol Convection interactions ExpeRiment (TRACER) field campaign. We would love to increase the diversity of our forecast roster. Our goal with TRACER is to make the forecast experience as welcoming as possible. If you know undergraduates who want to forecast or learn forecasting, please reach out to me.
Finally, as a white dude who has known nothing but privilege, I want to sincerely thank my subgroup members and those who have given us insight. We have a lot to learn, and we do not presume to fully know all the issues facing those who are underrepresented.
Fischer EV, B Bloodhart, K Rasmussen, IB Pollack, MG Hastings, E Marin-Spiotta, AR Desai, JP Schwarz, S Nesbitt, and D Hence. 2021. “Leveraging Field-Campaign Networks to Identify Sexual Harassment in Atmospheric Science and Pilot Promising Interventions.” Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 102(11):E2137-E2150, https://doi.org/10.1175/BAMS-D-19-0341.1.