Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Socio-Environmental Synthesis Research Workshop for Ph.D. Students

Deadline: Jan 21, 2020

Workshop Dates: March 24–27, 2020 in Annapolis, Maryland


The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) in partnership with the Ecological Society of America’s Strategies for Ecology Education, Diversity and Sustainability (SEEDS) program invites PhD students from a wide range of under-represented experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds to attend an interactive, skill-building workshop on team-based, socio-environmental (S-E) synthesis. S-E synthesis accelerates knowledge production and solutions to pressing S-E problems by integrating diverse disciplines, data, ideas, methods, theories, and priorities from across the social, natural, and computational sciences.


Workshop attendees will learn from and build community with 25 of their peers as well as a team of synthesis experts and mentors who share interests in investigating complex S-E problems, translating scientific contributions to actions and decisions, and increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in science. Attendees will participate in interactive activities and skills-based trainings spanning the science of team science, to interdisciplinary proposal writing and shared research design, to science communication and delivering actionable outcomes. Attendees will also have the opportunity to join facilitated discussions and coaching sessions with mentors who are heavily engaged in promoting inclusion and diversity, and who themselves identify with a wide range of under-represented communities.

Altogether, the workshop is designed such that attendees:

  • Enhance S-E synthesis and team science skills
  • Learn to communicate science to different audiences and inform relevant policies, decisions, and solutions
  • Expand and enrich science networks by incorporating and blending values and identities
  • Catalyze collaborative synthesis research projects as part of interdisciplinary teams
  • Engage with instructors, mentors, and peers in a welcoming environment conducive to diverse forms of thought, learning, expression, and exchange

Graduate Pursuits

In addition to building S-E synthesis skills and advancing scientific diversity, the workshop is designed to prepare graduate students to lead and/or otherwise contribute to the beginnings of a Graduate Pursuit. The SESYNC Graduate Pursuits Program is a first-of-its-kind program that supports independent research teams of 5-7 PhD students from diverse backgrounds and disciplines. Simultaneous to but outside of students’ doctoral degree programs, supported teams conduct data-driven synthesis research under one of SESYNC’s research themes over an 18-month period, with a focus on contributing fundamental scientific knowledge, solving synthetic problems, producing peer-reviewed products, and developing actionable outcomes. The Graduate Pursuits Program involves a series of multi-day meetings in Annapolis, long-term and structured engagement with SESYNC staff, and tailored cyberinfrastructure and computational support. Since 2013, SESYNC has supported 28 Graduate Pursuit teams. A list of supported Pursuit teams can be found here.

Costs and Travel

There is no cost to attend the workshop, although space is limited. Airfare (or costs incurred by other modes of transportation) to Annapolis will be pre-paid by SESYNC. SESYNC will also provide private hotel accommodations for up to five nights in accordance with University of Maryland’s travel policies. A continental breakfast and lunch will be served each day, with a welcome dinner also planned for the first evening. Attendees will be reimbursed for meals and other costs not directly provided by SESYNC during the workshop.

How to Apply

The deadline to apply is January 21, 2020 at 5:00pm Eastern Standard Time (EST).

Applicants must be currently enrolled first or second-year PhD students (third-year students will be considered on a case-by-case basis and should reach out to SESYNC staff before applying). Students from any discipline relevant to S-E research are encouraged to apply, but selected attendees will demonstrate strong interests in bridging scholarly disciplines and conducting data-driven, use-inspired synthesis research. Selected attendees will also display a genuine interest and ideally an intent to participate in SESYNC’s Graduate Pursuit Program, and will commit to participating to the best of their ability in the entirety of the 3.5-day workshop. Of the well-qualified students who apply, priority consideration will be given for this particular opportunty to women, minorites, and persons with disabilities in science.

Applicants must submit proposals as ONE PDF document via SESYNC’s application portal, including:

  1. CV (max. 2 pages, including date of enrollment); and,
  2. Statement of interest (max. 2 pages) that:
  • Clearly states the nature and goals of the applicant’s doctoral research,
  • Articulates the applicant’s motivations for enhancing S-E synthesis skills and interdisciplinary team science capacities,
  • Describes how the applicant would benefit from, or why the applicant is drawn to, a workshop centered around diversity, equity, and inclusion, and
  • Briefly outlines a project idea, pressing S-E problem, or available dataset of interest that could serve as a basis for collaboration and/or potentially inspire the development of a Graduate Pursuit


For more information about the workshop and/or the Graduate Pursuit Program, please email Dr. Nicole Motzer, Assistant Director for Interdisciplinary Science, at nmotzer@sesync.org.

More about the Hosts

Funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation to the University of Maryland, College Park, SESYNC is an international leader in supporting diverse science teams that enhance understandings of the complex interactions and interdependencies between people and their environments. SESYNC is dedicated to improving representation and quality of experience for under-represented minorities in synthesis science and prioritizes diversity in all respects, including but not limited to academic discipline, gender, sexual orientation, ability, ethnicity, race, age, citizenship or immigration status, etc.

SEEDS is the flagship award-winning education program of the ESA. Its mission is to diversify and advance the ecology profession through opportunities that stimulate and nurture the interests of underrepresented students.

The University of Maryland Is an Equal Opportunity Employer

Minorities and Women Are Encouraged to Apply


The original posting can be found on the SESYNC website, and a PDF version of the posting can be downloaded here.