New Fellowship Program Supports Diversity in Scientific Diving

For some maritime researchers, getting a qualified scientific diver is a match-changer. This certification can have a profound influence on the exploration activities and occupation prospects offered for researchers interested in the underwater surroundings.

But the path to scientific diver status—defined by the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS)—is extended, high-priced, and influenced by a long-standing, but at any time-evolving heritage of unequal accessibility to alternatives.

A new application at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego seeks to break down some of these boundaries, and aims to make the diving community a additional inclusive room. Formally launching in Drop 2022, the Diversity Fellowship Application will help a small cohort of outstanding and assorted undergraduate and graduate pupils at UC San Diego who want to contribute to oceanographic research but deal with barriers to inclusion in scientific diving programs.

“Our objective with the Range Fellowship System is to dismantle some of the systemic barriers that exist for underrepresented learners who want to become scientific divers,” said Scripps Director of Variety Initiatives Keiara Auzenne. “As a leader in scientific diving, Scripps has an opportunity in this article to help make a much more inclusive upcoming not only for scientific divers, but for the diving community as a entire.”

The initiative has currently acquired six decades of funding many thanks to contributions from numerous associates of the Scripps Director’s Council and the Scripps Training Office. Dive products producer ScubaPro is also providing guidance by providing the very first cohort of fellows with gentle gear which includes wetsuits, masks, fins, and snorkels.

Every single calendar year, the system would see a new cohort of 3-5 fellows who would acquire diver coaching in addition to aid by a devoted school sponsor and a mentor who is an energetic scientific diver. Students lacking practical experience in the drinking water would have accessibility to swimming and water basic safety classes presented via UC San Diego Recreation. Mentors will aid fellows indication up for the correct swim lessons (as important), provide advice on how to turn into a greater diver, and present mental, emotional, and professional assistance as the mentee moves by their certification method.

The moment a Diversity fellow has obtained scientific diver certification, they will serve as an official mentor for the upcoming cohort.

Scripps graduate pupils take part in a scientific diving system in 2019. Image: Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego

Doorways opened by diving

The program principle emerged many a long time ago next discussions among Scripps PhD candidate Erica Ferrer and then-PhD candidate Alyssa Griffin. The two experienced shared the financial, physical, and psychological troubles they had seasoned whilst finishing their respective dive applications, and the successes that adopted their certifications.

“We have been sort of astounded by the simple fact that once we got this certification doors just opened—like magically opened,” mentioned Ferrer, who was certified even though completing her undergraduate degree at UC Santa Cruz. “Suddenly you have accessibility to all these possibilities that possibly you failed to even know existed ahead of.”

Though Ferrer beloved mastering to dive and taking part in subtidal science, she experienced to choose on financial debt in buy to pay out for her training. Luckily for her the threat paid out off, as it opened the door to a summer season job conducting analysis off Ischia, an island in the Gulf of Naples, Italy. She also thinks the certification served her get into the maritime biology graduate method at Scripps, where by she is now exploring sustainability in small-scale fisheries.

Now she needs to make positive other students, who could possibly encounter equivalent fiscal challenges, have an much easier practical experience in turning into scientific divers.

“I want to make sure that students like myself really feel like they can take part in scientific diving and never have to just take on credit card debt to do it, because it was a threat,” she explained. “Looking back on my determination to get certified, it just seems so very clear, but when I was heading into it, I didn’t know if I was going to be equipped to recoup the expenses. I didn’t know if I was making a awful monetary and lifestyle conclusion. I just experienced no thought and it was incredibly terrifying.”

Griffin, who figured out how to dive very late in her PhD plan at Scripps thanks to monetary boundaries, referred to as scientific diving “transformational” to her work in marine geochemistry.

“Diving seriously opened a total planet of alternatives in conditions of the issues that I could deal with and the processes that I could notice,” claimed Griffin, now a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Davis. “It definitely just authorized me to broaden my science and my skill to conduct science.”

Ferrer and Griffin labored carefully with Auzenne and Scripps Dive Security Officer Christian McDonald to produce the proposal for the Variety Fellowship, and acquired the environmentally friendly light for the program to consider off in Tumble 2022.

Obstacles to good results

Students launch tiny boats off Scripps Pier for a diving program. Photo: Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego

In their proposal, Ferrer and Griffin identified expense as one particular of the largest hurdles for would-be scientific divers. In addition to the precise dive lessons, certification demands highly-priced dive gear, professional medical tests, and more, costing a number of 1000’s of bucks. Class conditions give another barrier, as past knowledge with scuba diving and advanced swimming proficiency are generally required—further impacting marginalized groups who have been systematically denied obtain to the drinking water.

Ferrer and Griffin also mentioned the standard deficiency of ethnic, racial, and gender diversity in the broader scuba diving local community. Formal studies designed out there by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) advise that the recreational dive local community is heavily dominated by middle- and upper-class adult men, with the vast majority reporting salaries of additional than $100,000 a 12 months. Demographics within the scientific diving local community are not currently tracked or produced offered to the community, but anecdotal proof indicates that divers of coloration are couple and much concerning.

Turning the tide

By way of the Variety Fellowship Method, Ferrer and Griffin hope Scripps can support prompt a culture adjust inside the diving neighborhood, serving as the two a spouse and a product for other corporations and establishments to aid diversity and inclusion in diving.

Scripps is properly poised to direct such an energy, with far more than a century of expertise in underwater exploration and 7 many years of daring science via scuba diving. In 1954, Scripps founded the first ever scientific diving safety software, setting the common for diver training at the University of California and inspiring the generation of other scientific diving applications like it across the earth.

“I assume the status and status of Scripps’ Scientific Diving Application supplies a truly significant possibility to design this application and pilot this program,” said Griffin, “and we hope that other institutions will abide by.”

Students take part in a scientific diving study course in 2019. Image: Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego

A number of other packages that support range in diving are by now underway, together with The Range Undertaking at UCLA.

McDonald, who presently runs the Scientific Diving System at Scripps, stated he’s wanting ahead to supporting the work at UC San Diego.

“I’ve observed over the years how transformational the practical experience of diving and accessibility to the ocean can be for folks,” he said. “It’s enjoyable for me to attempt to foster alternatives for individuals who would in any other case not have entry to the sea or not have accessibility to the ocean, to just create a pathway for that and to see how we can enable rework their expertise.”

The software period for the Slide 2022 cohort opens May well 6 by June 3. The system is open up to undergraduates and graduate pupils at UC San Diego, with priority presented to underrepresented students whose investigate would gain from scientific diving certification. Discover more about the program on this site and apply here.

Philanthropic presents like individuals in support of the Variety Fellowship Program contribute to the Marketing campaign for UC San Diego—a college-huge complete fundraising energy concluding June 30, 2022. Along with UC San Diego’s philanthropic companions, the college is continuing its nontraditional route toward revolutionary concepts, unexpected solutions, lifesaving discoveries and earth-modifying affect.