Lian Guo is one scientist who is using the medium of conversation to explore topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in her field. Lian, a member of the SESYNC team synthesis project (graduate-student led) "Fishing and Urban Inequality" is co-host of the Fisheries Diversity and Inclusion Podcast, which focuses on exploring a wide variety of topics related to DEI within the context of the fisheries profession.
Clemson University graduate students Aaron Bunch and Deon Kerr created the podcast, later inviting Lian and Cassidy Miles to join as co-hosts. Lian explained that “Our podcast aims to amplify marginalized voices within the fisheries profession and identify resources and solutions which any fisheries professional can use to bring about impactful change in their workplace.” She continued, “Although humans and their interactions with fish populations are a critical component of fisheries science, our field has struggled to recognize how critical a diverse workforce and inclusive management are to equitable, cutting-edge science.”
Recently, Lian invited her teammates Lauren Drakopulos, Meghna Marjadi, Sarita Panchang, Dustin Robertson, and Zach Koehn to speak on the podcast about their experience participating in a SESYNC graduate student-led project. She also invited SESYNC Assistant Director for Interdisciplinary Science Nicole Motzer to discuss the value of interdisciplinary science on a follow-up episode.
For their SESYNC project, the team examined how well policies—particularly those related to access to fishing sites and availability of data related to fish consumption health risks—reflected the practices of urban marine subsistence fishers in New Orleans, LA and Tampa, FL. The team found that marginalized communities engage in significant levels of subsistence fishing, and if cities don’t consider subsistence fishers’ practices in their policies, those marginalized communities may face greater health risks and reduced access to nutritious, affordable food.
Lian said she chose to talk about her Pursuit because of its topical relevance, as well as the experience she gained from participating. “I learned so much through the process of completing our graduate pursuit and truly felt empowered to work with people with very different expertises. There have been significant barriers to incorporating more human dimensions into fisheries science, including undervaluing the benefits of diverse methodological approaches in addressing fisheries issues, as well as intimidation to work in fields one wasn't formally trained in.”
She added, “I wanted to show people some examples of how valuable interdisciplinary science can be in fisheries, and how really anyone (including graduate students) can take the steps to become involved in these efforts.”
Lian said she believes that transcending the boundaries between disciplines is key to achieving greater DEI in fisheries. “The way we can quickly reach more inclusive fisheries science and management is by uniting people with diverse backgrounds to tackle challenging, cross-boundary questions,” she said. “Not only can we more effectively identify and remedy environmental justice issues, but we can reshape our scientific dialogue to reflect the fact that diverse communities interact with fish populations in different ways which have yet to be fully recognized as important.”
To further the conversation surrounding the value of interdisciplinary collaboration, Lian also asked Motzer to contribute her perspective on why interdisciplinary science has such a powerful effect in producing unique, impactful findings in environmental science. “As someone who has overseen many other graduate pursuits and other SESYNC projects, Nicole was able to share concrete examples of how other people have used interdisciplinary approaches to successfully answer important questions in fisheries,” Lian said. “She also shared a number of tools that SESYNC has developed to help researchers get their interdisciplinary projects off the ground, which provided some concrete action items for any interested party to follow-up with.