Photo of two silhouetted people walking along a beach in the morning, with the sun shining brightly into the camera. Their footprints are clearly visible on the sand of the beach.

Taking Action for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in California’s Ocean Sciences

We convened a series of roundtable discussions to identify successes and foster solutions for empowering a more inclusive and diverse next generation of scientists and professionals.


Underrepresentation in the geosciences is stark and persists into the workforce due to the structural and systemic barriers that perpetuate existing inequities for groups historically excluded from these career pathways. Despite an upward trend in overall degrees granted over the last few decades, the ocean and coastal sciences continue to be one of the least diverse career fields. Ocean Science Trust is committed to supporting pathways for increasing diversity by strengthening access, inclusion, and belonging throughout academia and beyond, as well as empowering scientists to promote institutional and cultural change in the workforce.

Ocean Science Trust in partnership with the San Francisco State University Estuary & Ocean Science Center (EOS Center) and University of California, Davis Coastal & Marine Sciences Institute (CMSI) is leading a collaborative initiative to advance Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in California’s ocean and coastal sciences community. Through a series of Roundtable discussions, this initiative aims to identify barriers and challenges to advancing DEI,while exploring successful and replicable strategies to create sustainable change in the higher education system, career pathways, and throughout the broader ocean and coastal science workforce.

By cultivating dialogue across sectors, institutions, and organizations, we aim to produce actionable recommendations that accelerate the rapid uptake and implementation of effective strategies to build a more inclusive, equitable, and culturally relevant ocean and coastal science community in California.

Convening the Roundtable Series

We have convened university staff, faculty, program coordinators, government representatives, career development programs and also students, post-docs and recent graduates representing 25 higher education institutions and 15 major marine organizations across California. These participants included federal/state agencies, non-profits, and community colleges.

In the winter of 2021-2022, OST convened participants across four main discussion themes:

  1. Career Pathway Development to illuminate career pathways and connectivity including access to professional experiences such as internships, fellowships, and addressing hiring and selection practices, not only in academia but other career paths that are supported by degrees in coastal and ocean sciences.
  2. Faculty Perspective to provide input and reflection on institutional challenges and opportunities for advancing inclusion, equity, and diversity in academia and beyond for ocean-focused professionals, including best practices for institutional accountability.
  3. The Student Experience to explore effective strategies and ongoing challenges with programs trying to improve culture, mentorship, curriculum development, belonging, retention, recruitment, and more.
  4. Research and Training Funding to identify more equitable and inclusive funding mechanisms, practices, applications, and private/public systems to support the recommendations and insights from academic and career groups.

Representatives from each Roundtable were able to share lessons learned, explore collaborative strategies, and co-create actionable recommendations for building a more inclusive and equitable ocean and coastal science community in California. Ocean Science Trust is currently producing a final report and strategy framework on the results from these Roundtable discussions.

Proceedings and Recommendations from the Roundtable Series

Following the convening of the Roundtable series, Ocean Science Trust developed a final report titled “Pathways to Advance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in California’s Coastal and Ocean Sciences”. This report reflects the collaborative exchanges that took place during each virtual roundtable event and subsequent integrative syntheses. It outlines key goals, strategies and recommendations to effectively make California’s coastal and ocean sciences more inclusive, equitable, and diverse. The final report is intended to serve as a resource for the roundtable series participants, as well as individuals, groups, organizations, and institutions committed to furthering the advancement of DEI in the coastal and ocean sciences and beyond.

Read the report here.

Steering Committee

We conducted this project by drawing on the breadth of expertise outside of ourselves, forming a Steering Committee of leaders and change agents to provide guidance on designing an inclusive and equitable process.

Committee Members

David Asai, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Jeanette Davis, Science is Everywhere, LLC
Laura Good, CSU Monterey Bay
Carole Hom, UC Davis CMSI
Lekelia Jenkins, Arizona State University
Randall Hughes, Northeastern University
Kate Lowry, Science Philanthropy Alliance
Anne-Marie Núñez, Ohio State University
Karina Nielsen, SFSU EOS Center
Craig Strang, UC Berkeley

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