NOAA program supports diversity in next generation of marine scientists

October 27, 2021
LMRCSC students go on to careers in federal agencies, universities and private industry. L to r: IMET Director Russell Hill, Shadaesha Green, Jan Vicente, Leah Maurer, LMRCSC Director Rose Jagus, and Kate Gillespie.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will continue its two-decade commitment to support the next generation of marine scientists and researchers through the Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center. The program encourages young people from underrepresented communities to pursue careers in the marine sciences. A renewed agreement will provide $30 million in grants over five years to the consortium of seven institutions, led by the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science at the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology has been a partner since the inception of the program in 2001.

“This program provides training opportunities to a diverse body of undergraduates with a long-term goal of providing a strong pipeline of students continuing to higher degrees in marine and environmental sciences,” said Russell Hill, director at the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology.

The LMRSC program provides support for graduate students from underrepresented groups in marine and environmental science, preparing them for careers in research, management, and policy that support the sustainable use and conservation of marine resources.

LMRSCS leadership will transition to IMET Associate Research Professor Eric Schott this year after two decades being led by Professor Rose Jagus.

“A diverse and inclusive scientific workforce maximizes innovation and creativity in scientific progress and policy-making,” said IMET Professor Rose Jagus, who has served project director of the program at IMET from 2001 to 2021. She is transitioning the leadership role this year to IMET Associate Research Professor Eric Schott.

Currently, the LMRCSC supports five graduate students at IMET and UMCES’ Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, and will be able to support a total of 10 more graduate students at UMCES over the next five years. Over the past two decades, four master’s students and eight Ph.D.s have graduated through this program at IMET.

Five of UMCES’ LMRCSC-supported graduate students were awarded prestigious Knauss Fellowships to work in federal agencies focused on marine policy. Graduates currently hold positions at NOAA and as assistant professors at universities, as well as a NSF Research Fellow and executive at a pharmaceutical company.

“Changing representation among marine and environmental scientists ensures that young scientists can see a path forward in these fields” said Schott.

Recruitment of graduate students from under-represented groups has been facilitated by involvement with our partners in the LMRCSC, as well as through IMET’s Summer Undergraduate Research Program which has trained 230 undergraduates from almost 30 institutions across the U.S. since 2001. 

“LMRCSC alumni are pursuing successful careers and making significant scientific contributions in academia, state and federal agencies, including NOAA,” said LMRSC director Dr. Paulinus Chigbu at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. In the past five years, the LMRCSC nationally has graduated 18 undergraduates and 24 graduate students, while another 48 students are currently pursuing degrees.