Education and Diversity Programs

ESA develops strategic programs to increase diversity within ecology-related professions and to improve the quality of ecology education at all levels. Ecology is a diverse science for diverse people. Broadening participation strengthens our science and its impact. ESA welcomes and encourages all people to fully participate in the science of ecology.

Enhancing Ecological Knowledge

More than 100 educators, scientists, and program specialists from 27 states and Canada attended the 3rd Life Discovery – Doing Science Biology Education Conference, held in Baltimore, MD from March 18-19, 2016. The theme of the conference was Creating Connections: Biology in Action.

At the Annual Meeting, ESA organized the ever popular Resources for Ecology Education – Fair and Share workshop, now in its eighth year, with 11 presentations on effective active teaching approaches.

ESA launched an incubator project with the Society of Conservation Biology to seed a new network that will support workforce development for college graduate career progression into environmental biology. Next Generation Careers – Innovation in Environmental Biology (NGC) is funded by the National Science Foundation.

A task force established by the Committee on Diversity and Education has developed a preliminary four-dimensional ecology education (4DEE) framework that offers instructors a novel way to organize and update the study of ecology. The 4DEE framework, developed by ESA members, aligns key ecological topics along four dimensions: ecological concepts, human dimensions, cross-cutting themes, and skills.

Deepening the Experience of Ecology


The SEEDS programThe Presidential Award-winning SEEDS program – Strategies for Ecology Education, Diversity and Sustainability – celebrated its 20th anniversary this year. Over 20 years, we have reached more than 800 students, welcomed 95 campus ecology chapters, distributed more than $385K in chapter grant awards, organized 35 field trips, 17 cohorts at the ESA annual meetings, 12 leadership meetings, and 9 fellowship classes. In a 2013 survey, 48% of SEEDS participants reported that they are either pursuing or have completed a Master’s degree in ecology or a related field, and 22% reported that they are pursuing or have completed a doctorate in ecology or a related field.

SEEDS Partnerships for Undergraduate Research (SPUR) Fellows

The SPUR Fellowship program, with funding from the National Science Foundation and our partners, supports undergraduate students in conducting an independent ecological investigation with guidance from a mentor scientist. As part of the Fellowship program, students participate in SEEDS Leadership Meetings and will present their research at the 2018 ESA Annual Meeting in New Orleans, LA.

Kathryn Bloodsworth (Eastern University)
Partnership Site: W.K. Kellogg Biological Station, Michigan
Mentor: Dr. William West
Mentor Institution: Michigan State University
Project Title: Understanding the effects of the bioaccessability of carbon on denitrification and microbial community structures, specifically on the NorB and NosZ genes

Nikita Kowal (Arizona State University)
Partnership Site: Central Arizona/Phoenix – LTER, Arizona
Mentor: Dr. Becky Ball
Mentor Institution: Arizona State University
Project Title: The Effects of Nitrogen Deposition on Microbial Communities in Desert Soils

Rebekah Sanchez (University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez)
Partnership Site: W.K. Kellogg Biological Station, Michigan
Mentor: Dr. Kate Glanville
Mentor Institution: Michigan State University
Project Title: Nitrous Oxide fluxes in altered precipitation patterns varying landscape positions

Chelsea Hazlett (University of Florida)
Partnership Site: Cedar Creek Ecosystems Science Reserve – LTER, Minnesota
Mentor: Dr. Kimberly La Pierre
Mentor Institution: University of California, Berkeley
Project Title: Mutualisms alter biodiversity-ecosystem function relationships under global change

Michelle Poletti (Florida International University)
Partnership Site: Central Arizona/Phoenix – LTER, Arizona
Mentor: Dr. Ariane Middel
Mentor Institution: Arizona State University
Project Title: Impact of interior temperatures of shaded and unshaded vehicles on children’s health- A case study in Phoenix, AZ

Maggie Yarnold (Loyola University Chicago)
Partnership Site: Llano River Field Station
Mentor: Dr. Tom Arsuffi
Mentor Institution: Texas Tech University
Project Title: Ungulate Foraging Pressures on Riparian Zones along the South Llano River

SEEDS Field Trips

Ecology field trips are the cornerstone for freshman and sophomore students to learn about ecology first-hand. Students spend four to seven days at an ecologically significant site, such as a field station, research laboratory, or national park, learning about the science of ecology, exploring career options, and seeing the practical applications of ecology. Students find out more about what ecologists do through hands-on experiences with professionals, receive training in specific areas, and build networks with students and professionals.

H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest – Blue River, Oregon, National Field Trip
October 1-4, 2015

Sixteen students from fifteen institutions across the US attended the 2015 SEEDS National Field Trip to H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest in Blue River, Oregon. Students explored old growth forests and learned about their importance, hiked to the top of Carpenter Mountain (5,500 ft.) and developed three small research projects investigating forest restoration, hydrology, and stream ecology. This trip was made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Archbold Biological Station – Venus, Florida, Regional Field Trip
November 12-15, 2015

Participants were nestled amidst a preserve of globally imperiled Florida scrub habitat to encounter rare species of native plants, reptiles, and scrub bugs and to enjoy a swamp buggy tour of Archbold’s working cattle ranch. Students also participated in a new Archbold research project addressing the factors affecting the production of acorns and oak galls in scrub oaks. To top it all off, a panel of professionals across various sectors discussed career possibilities with the participants around a campfire at Lake Annie. Partial support for this field trip came from The Curtis & Edith Munson Foundation.

Mark Twain National Forest – Rolla, Missouri, National Field Trip
May 19-22, 2016

This national field trip at the Mark Twain National Forest (MTNF) was hosted in part by the US Forest Service. With help from Marla Collins, SEEDS Alumna and Tribal Relations Specialist for the USDA Forest Service at the MTNF and Natalia Lopez, SEEDS Alumna and graduate student at Hampton University, we hosted 18 undergraduate students from all over the United States to explore the amazing ecology of the Ozarks. Students experienced many careers related to managing over 1.5 million acres of land, from professions specializing in caves to forestry science. Participants conducted herpetology surveys, learned about cave ecology and bat conservation, visited a stream restoration project, and even got to conduct their own forestry data collection comparing short leaf pine growth between different forestry practices. It was an unforgettable weekend for all of our students. Funds for this trip came from the National Science Foundation.

SEEDS at the ESA Annual Meeting

Fort Lauderdale, Florida
August 7-12, 2016

In 2016, the 20th Anniversary of the SEEDS Program, we once again partnered with the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program (DDCSP) to bring 41 undergraduate students to the ESA Annual Meeting. We are very proud to have a diverse group of students this year:

  • 30 female and 11 male students
  • 14 Hispanic/Latino, 10 Black, 6 White, 6 Asian, 2 Native Hawaiian, 2 Mixed Race, and 1 Native American
  • Students from 18 states and 18 different institutions
  • 92% of students presented their research at ESA

A huge thank you to all of the ESA members that served as SEEDS Student Mentors and our six SEEDS Alumni Graduate Award Recipients for taking the time to mentor our students. We also thank the universities and programs that participated in this year’s Diversity in Ecology, Grad School and Careers Fair at the Diversity Luncheon. During the Diversity Luncheon, SEEDS staff facilitated the recognition of the 2015-2016 SEEDS SPUR Fellows: Coral Aviles, Brandon Hoenig and Kyle Reid. They received their certificates from ESA President Monica Turner, Vice President Nalini Nadkarni, Executive Director Katherine McCarter, and Education and Diversity Program Director Teresa Mourad.

SEEDS Leadership Meeting

Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory
11th Leadership Meeting April 13-17, 2016

In 2016, the SEEDS program hosted its 11th Leadership Meeting. This year’s theme was Diversity for Healthy Forests: The Connection Between Forestry Science and Society. We sponsored 19 students from all over the US to join us in Otto, North Carolina for a weekend full of science and leadership skills. With funding from the USDA Forest Service and our hosts at the Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory, we were able to learn about forestry and hydrology sciences in an amazing location. We had workshops about science communication and policy, hosted a career panel, and were honored by the participation of ESA President Dr. Monica Turner. Students also developed a Forestry Toolkit for outreach opportunities.


Education & Diversity Programs Office Staff
(August 2015 – August 2016)

Director: Teresa Mourad

Diversity Programs Coordinator: Fred Abbott

Committee for Diversity and Education
(August 2015 – August 2016)

Nalini Nadkarni: Vice President of Education and Human Resources

Brenda Bergman
Kim Bjorgo-Thorne
Carmen Cid
Ken Klemow
Frank Lake
Aurora MacRae-Crerar
George Middendorf
Charles H. Nilon
Bob Pohlad
Josh Scholl
Carolyn Thomas