ESA journal collection provides perspectives on recruiting and retaining future ecologists of color

June 22, 2021
For Immediate Release

Contact: Heidi Swanson, (202) 833-8773 ext. 211, gro.asenull@idieh

The impacts of global environmental change are disproportionately affecting communities of color – but many of the institutions and workplaces that are poised to address these impacts continue to uphold practices that are incompatible with broader participation of minority students, faculty and and practitioners. Today, in the Ecological Society of America’s journal Ecological Applications, researchers present perspectives on the structural and cultural problems within institutions, mentorship practices, professional development programs and research experiences that have caused and perpetuated the low representation of African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans and Pacific Islanders in the environmental workforce and in academia.

“There is no topic more important to ecology and ecological applications than diversity, inclusion and attendant issues of environmental justice,” said David Schimel, a senior research scientist at the California Institute of Technology’s Jet Propulsion Lab and a co-corresponding editor for the collection of papers. “These pieces speak eloquently to the experience in the discipline, ways to change the culture and the impacts that will have by including a broader range of perspectives to solve challenging ecological issues,” said Schimel.

The eight papers in the collection emphasize the need for building cultural competency, shifting invisible service loads away from people of excluded identities, and implementing interventions to better support a “scientist identity” and sense of belonging among minority ecologists.   

“This Forum is especially timely because it takes advantage of a national reckoning of how Euro-American culture has dominated society,” said Jill Baron, a senior scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey and co-corresponding editor for the collection. “Ecology and environmental sciences have not been exempt. Our biggest challenge is to transform the science of ecology and practice of environmental sciences into professions that are welcoming to under-represented minorities, and then to make our disciplines attractive enough to keep them.”


Diversity Forum articles:

A more representative community of ecologists
David S. Schimel, Jill S. Baron

Developing the ecological scientist mindset among underrepresented students in ecology fields
Gillian Bowser, Carmen R. Cid

Broadening the ecological mindset
Aaron M. Ellison, Audrey A. Barker Plotkin, Manisha V. Patel, Sydne Record

Addressing bias in faculty retention
Sparkle L. Malone, Sydne Record

The identity crisis of ecological diversity
Maria N. Miriti

The (un)discovering of ecology by Alaska Native ecologists
Wendy F. Smythe, Sarah Peele

Diverse values, philosophies and ideas beget innovation and resilience in ecology and for our world
Deb L. Morrison, Heidi Steltzer

Underrepresented youth experience barriers prior to field experiences
Susan Bonfield, Dalia Dorta, Jorge Vargas-Barriga



The Ecological Society of America, founded in 1915, is the world’s largest community of professional ecologists and a trusted source of ecological knowledge, committed to advancing the understanding of life on Earth. The 9,000 member Society publishes five journals and a membership bulletin and broadly shares ecological information through policy, media outreach, and education initiatives. The Society’s Annual Meeting attracts 4,000 attendees and features the most recent advances in ecological science. Visit the ESA website at 

ESA is offering complimentary registration at the 106th Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America for press and institutional public information officers (see credential policy). The meeting will feature live plenaries, panels and Q&A sessions from August 2–6, 2021. To apply for press registration, please contact ESA Public Information Manager Heidi Swanson at gro.asenull@idieh.