Written by Brandon Henry and Matthew Leason
Campus life has continued to adjust to the limits that the pandemic and our leaders have set to keep everyone safe and as healthy as possible. However, some of these parameters have cut off faculty and the new members of the student body from having a chance to interact with one another and limit students’ abilities to participate in events at times. To remedy this social distancing time, Dr. Susanne Moskalski organized the first virtual Marine Science Cafe on October 14.
Stockton has a diverse set of programs in the marine sciences department, focusing on marine biology, oceanography, or marine geology. A “MARS Cafe” is held to connect marine science majors with others across the department and serve as a networking opportunity for all. This one was arranged by Professor of Marine Science, Dr. Susanne Moskalski. It was decided that it would take place over Zoom for safety reasons, but that certainly did not hinder the fun.
Commencing at 6 p.m., the event began with a welcoming to everyone. Faculty then took the time to introduce themselves, and there was even a trivia to try to guess which factoid applied to each of the faculty. This “Which Professor” trivia game allowed new students to find out more about the department faculty and see how much returning students knew about the professors. From finding out the musical talent that many of the marine faculty had, the event was largely a success to their favorite pastimes.
Returning students like junior Alyssa Evringham said it was great to get to know professors in an informal setting. Caitlin Turner—a soon to be graduating senior—had a similar message, sharing that it was great to see her friends and professors that she has not had the opportunity to interact with since previous in-person semesters.
After learning more about the professors, students got to meet all of Stockton’s marine science-themed clubs, including Stockton’s chapters of both the Marine Technology Society and American Fisheries Society, the Aquarium and Aquaculture Club, and Marine Science Club. Recruiting speeches explained each organization, followed by breakout groups on Zoom, each hosted by one of the clubs mentioned above. Several games were played by those in attendance, though thanks to the virtual limitation, most clubs offered even more trivia games in the form of Kahoot. There was even an additional breakout room for anyone who preferred having a conversation. Lasting a little over two hours, the virtual MARS Cafe was still a great success.
For those unable to attend the event and have had their interests piqued on participating in a MARS cafe, the next event will take place on November 10. This event, which is open to the whole campus community, will focus on shining a light on the need for diversity and inclusion within the scientific community by presenting the documentary, “Picture a Scientist.” This documentary follows the trials and tribulations three lead female scientists endured to be seen and heard within the community.
“When you ask somebody to draw a picture of a scientist, it used to be all men” those were some of the opening lines found within the trailer of “Picture a Scientist.” These words sum up the trek in which women in science have to push past to feel like they can are seen in science next to their male counterparts. Between data and three leading perspectives from female scientists, the documentary explores the gender divide found within the scientific community. Dr. Nancy Hopkins is an MIT professor best known for her microbiology work, specifically studying the genetic conditions that predetermine cancer in mature fish populations.
Hopkins is also best known, “for her work promoting equality of opportunity for women scientists in academia,” as put by the press release for the documentary. Standing alongside Hopkins throughout the documentary is Dr. Raychelle Burks and Dr. Jane Willenburg, who have added tremendous work to the scientific fields.
Dr. Burks is an analytical chemist specializing in developing low-cost sensors that would detect chemicals that forensic specialists often look for, such as explosives and drug substances. Dr. Willenburg is a geologist who examines the development of the Earth’s surface due to the change in plate tectonics; she also is the director of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography’s Cosmogenic Isotope Laboratory.
These women each have their own experiences to share with the audience about the mistreatment of women in the scientific community and a call to action to change the climate of the community as a whole. This documentary was a part of the Tribeca Film festival’s 2020 selection and has now entered the public for on-demand watching. There have been over 176 screenings of the film at major universities, institutions, and societies. The documentary is hitting its target audiences.
The documentary will be available for on-demand streaming on November 7-9 (advance registration required). A panel discussion will take place afterward, on November 10 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. with women in science and engineering professions within the South Jersey area, where students are encouraged to ask questions during this panel and learn about the professionals within the region. This event is open to all students, and by the time this article is posted, students should be able to register here. For those interested and have further questions about the event, email Dr. Anna Pfeiffer-Herbert (Anna.Pfeiffer-Herbert@stockton.edu) about the next MARS Cafe hosted alongside the rest of the NAMS faculty.