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Meet Ajisha Alwin

A banner image of ecologists who have benefitted from Opportunity Fund donations in 2020

My name is Ajisha Alwin and I work as a researcher with the Karst Lab at the University of Florida College of Medicine studying the host immune responses and the pathogenesis of the norovirus. Currently applying for Ph.D. programs, my career goal is to become a research academic in the biomedical field to contribute toward treatment methods for diseases and mentor students to become scientists and leaders in my field.

ESA student member Ajisha Alwin at the 2019 Annual MeetingI am also the Marketing/Outreach Director of the ESA Student Section Governing Board and I lead our marketing/outreach team, develop, and maintain our website. My goal has been to encourage DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) among the students of the scientific community and to provide resources for students from diverse backgrounds to help them succeed in their careers. This year’s meeting helped me do this through workshops and events I hosted at and during the meeting to engage students and highlight their science.

While my field is not ecology, I came to realize the significance of attending ESA meetings and the impact it would have on my career. My study analyzes skills learned from undergraduate field research experiences and compares them to the skills employers expect for entry-level positions in field ecology/biology. At the 2020 Annual Meeting, I connected with scientists in fields closely related to my own who helped me identify my career interests, i.e., research and academia. The people I met also helped me identify my current lab and mentored me through the process. I was also able to develop my science communication skills, which are pivotal for any scientist.

As a student affected by the pandemic, the registration grant was my only way to attend this year’s meeting. I am thankful for this opportunity especially as a student from a diverse background. I have witnessed firsthand how the grants and ESA Annual Meetings help students benefit from such a large platform of scientists and resources. Please consider donating to this fundraiser to sustain support for students like me to engage and grow in the scientific community.

Help us support the participation of diverse people in ecology and meet the $20K in 2020 Past Presidents Challenge—contribute to the Opportunity Fund today!

A diverse science is a rich science. In the past two years, ESA has used the Opportunity Fund to support registration grants and travel for more than 300 ecologists who lack institutional support to participate in the ESA Annual Meeting. Help us to realize our goal of being the inclusive professional home for all ecologists.

You can also contribute to other funds that help us to extend professional opportunities to diverse ecologists. You can contribute directly to SEEDS or the Les Real and Jim Brown Student Travel Fund on our main donation page, or to any of our various other awards when you renew your membership.