Conference connects female experts with potential scientists
Designed to connect leading female experts with the next generation of potential scientists, the Girls in Ocean Science Conference is returning for its second year at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum.
The program has been expanded to two days of programming — Oct. 1 for students in grades 6-8 and Oct. 2 for those in grades 9-12.
Each day, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the girls will board boats and sail in the Santa Barbara Channel to test the water, gather and explore the marine life living there and conduct hands-on experiments with distinguished women scientists.
— Holly Lohuis, marine biologist, naturalist, educator, Santa Barbara. Maritime Museum Education Committee and Jean-Michel Cousteau Ocean Futures Society.
— Penny Owens, education and community outreach director, Santa Barbara ChannelKeeper.
— Julie Bursek, NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, studying offshore, shallow subtidal and intertidal systems and developing floating laboratory educational and research programs.
— Lizzie Duncan, research ecologist, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, working to understand and monitor the resources of the sanctuary, balancing sustainable ocean use while ensuring conservation of the Channel Islands’ ecosystems.
— Anita Giraldo-Ospina, postdoctoral researcher, UCSB, studying marine ecosystems and species that grow on the seafloor, such as algae, seagrass, and coral.
— Callie Leiphardt, project scientist, Benioff Ocean Science Laboratory, developing science- and technology-based solutions to ocean problems.
— Kelsi Rutledge, doctoral candidate at UCLA, visiting researcher at Caltech, and National Defense Science and Engineering Fellow, studying the shape, biomechanics and fluid dynamics of marine animals with a focus on stingrays.
Co-chairs for the conference are Ms. Lohuis and Ms. Owens.
This hands-on event, which will connect the female scientists with up to 40 junior high school students and up to 48 senior high school students, is made possible by the generosity of the Steinmetz Family Foundation.
During the GiOS conference, female experts will share their lives, careers and interests with the participants.
“I’ve been very fortunate that my family has always encouraged me to follow my dreams and goals to pursue a career in marine science,” said Ms. Liephardt. “Through my journey into my current career, I was always in search of opportunities that could help me learn and grow as an aspiring marine scientist, and I met some very inspiring female role models along the way that had positive impacts on my journey.
“This was pivotal for me because I had role models that were not only doing the type of work I wanted to do and showing that it was possible, but also, someone who was willing to help mentor aspiring female scientists.”
Ms. Giraldo-Ospina also had a supportive family.
“My family encouraged me to pursue my education,” she said. “They have always respected my decision of career choice and ambition to become a researcher and have supported me every step of the way.
“I have had many female leaders in my career that I look up to, but the most influential one so far has been my Ph.D. supervisor. She was always there to help me solve problems but gave me enough independence to drive my own research and make decisions.”
Ms. Lohuis said she “loves sharing my personal experiences of diving the world’s oceans and exploring the local outdoors in hopes of enticing people to seek their own personal connection to the natural environment and the ocean.
“ What I especially enjoy is seeing people develop a desire to work hard in the protection of our oceans and wilderness areas.”
Scientists say evidence shows that people are causing a decline in the ocean’s health on a global scale. Oceans cover more than 70% of the surface of the earth, provide 90% of the living space and are integral to all known life, according to a news release from the maritime museum.
Scientists have come to understand and value the important fact that oceans sustain all life on the planet.
Oceans provide life-giving oxygen, regulate the climate, feed the world with needed protein, provide a place of spiritual connection and sustain the delicate balancing act between living organisms and the physical forces of Earth, according to the news release.
Marine scientists are reporting that the oceans are warming and that these warming seas are having a profound effect on oceanic processes and marine life. Scientists say today’s loss of ocean biodiversity is staggering.
Through Girls in Ocean Science, participating student scientists will learn about the importance of marine ecology and the conditions that make the Santa Barbara Channel so productive and diverse with wildlife.