Research on MagLab science camp yields a framework for better understanding how to encourage girls and underrepresented minorities in STEM's most male-dominated field.
Monthly gatherings prepare employees for the dreaded awkward elevator ride.
This week at the lab, Ella Morton is heading to New Orleans to attend the bi-annual Ocean Sciences Meeting, her first scientific conference. She is pretty excited: Her suitcase has been packed for months with her mermaid painting, favorite story book, and My Little Pony.
At age 5, she's too young to drive the six hours from Tallahassee to the Big Easy. Luckily, her dad, MagLab geochemist Peter Morton, is going, too, and, as a father of four, is an experienced chauffeur.
Morton is able to bring Ella (child #3) to the conference, where he and his undergrad students will present data on the flow of micronutrients in the ocean, thanks to a MagLab Dependent Care Travel Grant. Launched as a diversity initiative in 2006 and funded by the Florida State University Office of Research, the program helps cover the cost of caring for children or other dependents so that MagLab staff can travel to conferences and MagLab users can come here to conduct experiments.
The financial and logistical strain of raising a family and establishing a career can weigh on young scientists. Last year, Morton was away from home for more than four months, including a 75-day expedition to the North Pole. Whenever possible, Morton brings one of his children, ages 3 to 11, on the road with him. The benefits are many: it eases the burden on his wife, allows him to spend one-on-time with his children, and exposes his kids to the life of a scientist.
"People are paying more attention to the fact that scientists aren't just hard-core data managers and idea generators, but that they have a life outside of science," said Morton. "It makes me feel better about my chosen field."
Increasingly, scientific conferences offer camps or other childcare for kids of participants, and Morton has noticed more of his colleagues bringing wee ones in tow. Youngsters get to watch mom or dad on the job and learn more about what scientists do. Watching her father present his poster at a recent meeting helped his oldest daughter give a better presentation at her middle school science fair, he said.
"I really appreciate this shift in attitude," said Morton, "where there's more infrastructure and attention given to parents and families who want to stay engaged in the science and their personal lives."
Text by Kristen Coyne / Photo by Jennifer Morton
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All applications are due by the 1st of the month in order to be considered. Applications are reviewed on a monthly basis, so even if an application is submitted before the 1st, it will not be reviewed until the deadline. Notifications of funding acceptances will be sent by the 15th of each month. Please indicate how your application fits within the MagLab's Diversity Mission.
Broadening Participation Funding
MagLab staff and scientists can apply for funding to broaden participation. Examples could include: attending a minority serving STEM conference or workshop, speaking at a minority serving institution or organization, paying for exhibiting costs at a conference or workshop for underrepresented minorities, or hosting visitors at the MagLab that would broaden participation in our user program. Please keep your request under $2000. This funding is meant to supplement other funds and funding is limited.
Professional Development Travel Funding
MagLab staff and scientists can apply for a professional travel grant once per calendar year. The total travel amount for awardees is up to $2000. Awardees will be chosen based on a set process/application. Please explain how this travel will support your individual goals, the mission of the lab, and the diversity mission of the lab.
For more information please contact Ernesto Bosque.
Students can also find other sources of funding at the following websites:
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