Thursday, May 8, 2008

American Institute of Biological Sciences Announces Awards for Diversity Initiatives

AIBS honors diversity in the biological sciences with two Diversity Scholar Awards and one Diversity Leadership Award. The American Institute of Biological Sciences is committed to increasing the participation in biology of individuals from traditionally underrepresented groups, including women, minorities, and persons with disabilities. Each year through the Diversity Scholars and Diversity Leadership Awards, AIBS recognizes the academic achievements of individuals from underrepresented groups as well as programs dedicated to broadening participation in the biological sciences.

AIBS President Rita Colwell and Executive Director Richard O'Grady praised the Ecological Society of America's program, Strategies for Ecology Education, Development and Sustainability (SEEDS), for its "creativity, commitment, and effectiveness in promoting diversity in biology."
With the goal of diversifying and advancing the profession of ecology,the SEEDS program provides a full spectrum of mentoring and learning opportunities to underrepresented undergraduate students. These include SEEDS ecology clubs and chapters, research fellowships, group field trips, and travel to the ESA Annual Meeting where students are assigned a mentor for the duration of the meeting. SEEDS directly serves over 200 students and its chapters serve nearly 2,000 students. These students credit the program with enabling them to pursue a career in ecological science and to forge lasting relationships with both peers and mentors that help support their academic pursuits.
In 1992, underrepresented minorities represented 5.7 percent of the Society's membership. In 2006, that number had grown to 11 percent. The number of American Indian/Alaska Native members more than doubled and that of African American members nearly tripled. The Society has made a long-term commitment to continue the mentoring opportunities for students and members alike, particularly those organized and supported at the Society's annual meetings. ESA's SEEDS program will be recognized during the 2008 Annual AIBS meeting on May 12, in Arlington, Virginia. Melissa Armstrong, ESA Diversity Programs Manager, who has worked with SEEDS since 1999, will accept the award on the Society's behalf. The Ecological Society of America is the world's largest professional organization of ecologists, representing 10,000 scientists in the United States and around the globe. Since its founding in 1915, ESA has promoted the responsible application of ecological principles to the solution of environmental problems through ESA reports, journals, research, and expert testimony to Congress. ESA publishes four journals and convenes an annual scientific conference.