ASLO Multicultural Program
ASLO is committed to promoting diversity across discipline, country, socioeconomic status, gender and ethnicity. Science fundamentally benefits from having scientists with diverse beliefs, backgrounds, and values to provide broad perspectives on community needs and balance potential biases associated with narrower viewpoints. We strive to ensure that the ASLO Board and standing committees are comprised of a diverse body of members and have developed programs that facilitate diverse community participation, including:
- Reduced and free memberships for students, early career scientists, and those from developing countries.
- Building ethnic diversity through participation in ASLO Meetings: The ASLO Multicultural Program (ASLOMP)
ASLOMP uses opportunities provided by ASLO meetings to develop cohorts of informed, motivated, experienced, and connected undergraduate and graduate students from under-represented groups. To facilitate their entry into the ASLO community, students move through a series of 4 overlapping steps:
- Development of group identity,
- Affiliation with a "meeting-mentor" and small peer-circle,
- Affirmation by peers, and
- Affiliation with other non-ASLOMP students and regular ASLO members.
Each program begins on the weekend preceding the start of the regular ASLO meeting. The opening dinner features welcoming remarks from the ASLO President followed by a keynote address by luminaries in the field. Students participate in fieldtrips to a local aquatic system and participate in workshops on career and skills development. At the start of the meeting, students meet their assigned "meeting-mentors" and plan their week together with the aid of a tailored workbook. Meeting-mentors consist of regular ASLO members who volunteer their time to mentor students throughout the meeting. Many of the ASLOMP students present their own work in a special student symposium, held during concurrent sessions.
Students stay in the same hotel and take their meals together in order to build unity within the eclectic mix of students. Special guests from the meeting discuss various opportunities, such as internships, graduate schools, and other research opportunities. These activities help students develop a strong cohort with other minority students, thus gaining peer affirmation that instills the confidence needed for them to join the greater network of aquatic scientists. Professional role models and near-peer mentoring by graduate students and "meeting mentors" facilitate this process. ASLOMP students attend all of ASLO meeting social events and student oriented functions, further building contacts with individuals outside of the program. ASLO provides a year of free Society membership for the students, including an electronic subscription to the journal of Limnology and Oceanography.
ASLOMP began in 1990 with 24 undergraduates and a graduate student. Since then, more than 700 different students have participated in the program from over 150 different institutions. The group displays a strong gender and ethnic balance (57% African American, 30% Hispanic, 7% Native American, 4% Pacific Islander; 64% Female, 36% Male; 72% undergraduate, 28% graduate student) with ~ 40% of participants returning at least once. More than a quarter of ASLOMP students have earned graduate degrees and a number of former participants have served as meeting mentors or on the ASLO Board.