Skip to main content

Diversity Forum

Please Note

Due to the virtual nature of the 2021 ESA Annual Meeting – the Diversity Forum has been cancelled for this years meeting.

2nd Diversity Forum
ESA Annual Meeting 2019
Louisville, Kentucky
Wednesday August 14, 2019
6:30 – 8:00 PM

Stories of Belonging

The ESA Office of Education and Diversity Programs and the ESA SEEDS program is proud to host the second Diversity Forum to empower ESA members to become more involved in creating a more inclusive society and discipline.  The event was co-organized with leaders from the Inclusive Ecology section and SEEDS alumnus.

The 2nd ESA Diversity Forum included a panel discussion featuring Dr. Steward Pickett and Natalia Lopez and a facilitated reflection. Participants were invited to share their stories on one of four dimensions in a group setting:

  • Stories of Belonging
  • Cool Mentors
  • Challenges
  • Meaningful Connections

Participants were invited to jot their reflections on note cards and then attach them to yarn that stretched around the room.  These stories were then posted in the Exhibit Hall the next day.

The event also included a Diversity Graduate Programs and Opportunities Fair. Thank you to all our Sponsors for this event!

Planning and Support Team:

  • Aramati Casper, Colorado State University; ESA Inclusive Ecology section
  • Kennedy “Ned” Rubert-Nason, University of Maine at Fort Kent; ESA Inclusive Ecology section
    Zakiya Leggett, North Carolina State University; ESA SEEDS alumna

ESA Staff

  • Teresa Mourad
  • Fred Abbott
  • Ajisha Alwin (Intern)
  • Yostina Geleta (Intern)


Diversity Forum Panel

Steward T.A. Pickett is a Distinguished Senior Scientist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, in Millbrook, New York.  His research focuses on the ecological structure of urban areas and the temporal dynamics of vegetation, including primary forests, post-agricultural oldfields in the Eastern U.S., and woodlands along seasonal rivers in South Africa.

He is Director Emeritus of the Baltimore Ecosystem Study Long-Term Ecological Research program, which he led from 1997 to 2016.  Current research projects focus on the environmental equity of green infrastructure, urban-rural connections in China, and the ecology of segregation.

Dr. Pickett served as President of the Ecological Society of America in 2011-2012.  His concern with the health the community of practice in ecology, coupled with his personal experience, have led him to be deeply committed to diversification in the field.

Natalia was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She earned a bachelor’s in natural sciences with a major in coastal marine biology from the university of Puerto Rico at Humacao (UPRH).  She was the leader of her UPRH SEEDS Chapter for 4 years.  She has worked in government agencies such as U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). From isotope hydrology to sea turtle maternal DNA, from zooplankton ecology to aquatic virology she has an interdisciplinary approach to ecology.

Natalia obtained a Master of Science degree in Biology and Environmental Science from Hampton University funded by the NOAA Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center (LMRCSC) Education Partnership Program.

Currently, she is pursuing a Ph.D. in Marine Science at the University of South Florida studying aquatic viruses from the Florida springs to the ocean.

Natalia is very passionate about mentoring students in professional development and advocating for underrepresented minorities in science.


Thank you to our Sponsors 

We are grateful to our sponsors whose support helped defray the costs of the event:

Cornell University

Graduate School and Diversity Preview Weekend

Cornell Graduate School
With 5200 graduate and professional students in nearly 100 fields of study, the Cornell University Graduate School offers the broadest range of programs in the Ivy League.  Our world-renowned faculty and world-class research facilities combined with our interdisciplinary approach to graduate education and research make us unique.  Please stop by our table and talk with one of our representatives to learn more about our graduate programs, fellowships, summer research internships for undergraduates and much more.  Visit our website@

Diversity Preview Weekend
The Diversity Preview Weekend at Cornell is an initiative that aims to close gaps in access to higher education for underrepresented minority (URM) students in the life sciences. Current and recent undergraduates who are interested in pursuing an advanced degree and identify with a URM group travel to Cornell for an all-expenses paid weekend to network with Cornell faculty and engage in a series of activities and workshops designed to help participants prepare for the graduate school application process. Applications are due Dec 1, 2019 and the event is held in Spring 2020.

Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University

Master’s Degrees in Environmental Management and/or Forestry

The Nicholas School offers two-year degrees in Environmental Management and Forestry. Our mission, creating knowledge and global leaders of consequence for a sustainable future, is informed by Duke University’s theme of knowledge in the service of society and motivated by the need to restore and preserve the world’s environmental resources while adapting to a changing climate and a growing population with aspirations for rising standards of living.

Florida State University

Ecology and Evolution Group, Department of Biological Science. Graduate program, with teaching and research assistantships and fellowships

The Ecology and Evolution Group at Florida State University welcomes creative and independent researchers for PhD and MS positions in labs working on a wide range of basic and applied questions in Ecology, Conservation Biology, Animal Behavior and Evolutionary Biology.  We are a highly supportive and interactive group where students find doors open rather than closed, and diverse backgrounds and perspectives are valued.  All students are guaranteed funding through teaching assistantships or research assistantships, and university fellowships are also available.  Learn more about our research, faculty, graduate students and the rich natural habitats in our area here: The FSU EE group is part of the Department of Biological Science. To learn more about admission to the department, see here:

University of Michigan

Frontiers Master’s Program

The Frontiers Master’s Program is a fully-funded master’s program (including stipend, tuition, and health insurance) designed to train students from underrepresented background in the fields of ecology and evolutionary biology and prepares them for a future PhD program. Students explore the full range of research approaches in EEB, from molecular biology in labs, to field work in remote areas of the world, providing the foundation needed to continue on at the University of Michigan PhD program.

WK Kellogg Biological Station

NSF REU Program and Graduate Program

The NSF funded KBS REU Site Ecological & Evolutionary Dynamics in a Changing World gives students an opportunity to conduct full-time research in collaboration with our outstanding faculty, postdocs and graduate students.

All REU positions offer a generous stipend, FREE room and board at KBS, reimbursement of travel costs to and from the station, and funding for research supplies.

What are the benefits of an REU at KBS?

-Join a dynamic group of students and faculty for an authentic field research experience

-Learn the process of research: reading the literature, formulating questions and hypotheses, designing a study, collecting and analyzing data, and presenting your results as a research poster

-Explore if a career in research is a good choice for you

-Build references for your application to graduate school or other professional programs

-You participate in professional development seminars that will prepare you to be successful and think broadly about STEM career options

KBS Graduate Program:

Kellogg Biological Station offers a unique opportunity for graduate training within the Great Lakes bio-region.  We welcome students interested in ecology, evolutionary biology, agricultural ecology, sociology and animal science. Our research facilities, field sites, and resident faculty provide an excellent support for graduate research.