In recent years I've become very aware of the simple laziness in representing the people that contribute to science. If asked for a quick reference on a topic, many of us will search our mental file cabinets and come up with the resource we were first taught with, which was probably what our mentor was first taught with, which is likely to be authored by a white man. That isn't always true of course; I think much of the recent work that I honor in recent years on how biodiversity will respond to climate change has been spearheaded by fantastic women like Morgan Kelly, Jen Sunday, Sinéad Collins, and more, and it is easy to grab for those references when I'm asked about that topic. But if you look through Foundations of Ecology, for example, there are far too many people who have contributed phenomenal science who simply won't see themselves represented.

For every time we reach into our memory bank and come up with the first, easy answer - as likely happened when the membership of WSN was asked a few years ago to think of the most influential marine ecology papers they could think of - how much additional work does it take to think about whether that is the best paper for the need at the time, or was it just the easiest to remember? How often is there an equally good paper that represents biologists who have traditionally been under-represented in our teaching, in our histories of societies? How much extra effort does one have to put in to provide that representation, so that - especially as an instructor or mentor - we provide the scaffolding for women, people of color, and other under-represented diversity to see themselves reflected in the leaders of our field?

That's the question I've been asking myself as I teach for the past couple of years, with my primary loads being a graduate class in molecular ecology and a non-majors organismal biology class. In both cases, I've taught each class twice now. In all 4 instances, there have been more women than men in the classroom, and I'd estimate that a quarter of the students have been people of color, of all lovely shades and apparent origins. I should note that I'm aware of students who are LGBTQ, and aware of students who are demonstrably neurodiverse; I'm also aware of colleagues and fellow biologists who are LGBTQ and/or neurodiverse, but I never declare this about anybody because of course that is not my damned business to do so. Nevertheless, I pay attention to inclusion of these categories, even if people have no way of knowing.

This doesn't mean I'm as successful at it as I'd like, or that I know it could be improved in a myriad of ways. I'm just reporting on what happens when - each time a published resource needs to be used, or each time a biologist is highlighted for a specific project or for the trajectory of their career (in the case of the non-majors course, I highlight a "biologist of the day" in each class simply to provide visuals of who it is that does biology) - I let my mind think for a few extra seconds about who fits the role I need that day.

Lost a post or two

Hey all, not sure why but one of my posts got lost in this web app, so now it has been a very long time since I updated anything. Oh well. Kind of the least of our world's problems. Expect to hear more from me soon, you 7 people who are paying attention…..