American Society of Mammalogists (ASM) 2019

The 99th Annual Meeting and Centennial Celebration of the American Society of Mammalogists took place 28 June to 2 July 2019, at the birthplace of ASM, Washington, DC. iDigBio helped to mark this important milestone through organizing a session on broadening representation in mammalogy as well organizing the first ever Data Help Desk at ASM.

Session speakers from left to right: Danielle Lee, Jessica Light, Brett Woods, Lorelei Patrick, Corey Welch, and Molly Phillips (moderator)

The broadening representation session featured five speakers and concluded with a panel discussion. Corey Welch began our session introducing some of the concepts for intentional interventions to diversify STEM fields, like mammalogy, with examples from his own work as Director of the STEM Scholars Program at Iowa State University. Brett Woods followed Welch with a personal introduction to the roles micro-aggression and unconscious bias play in keeping currently under-represented groups out of STEM. Woods then summarized some mentoring strategies that can help minority students succeed despite these barriers and shared some insights into how faculty can actively create more inclusive and welcoming environments.

Following Woods, Lorelei Patrick talked about the importance of providing training in evidence-based teaching practices for teaching assistants as a way to create a more inclusive environment in the classroom. After Patrick, Danielle Lee presented on her advice to faculty and researchers wanting to engage in outreach to traditionally under-served and under-represented communities. Lee encouraged us to prioritize work in our own communities, and to be patient and focus on building relationships when working in communities in which you are not already a member.

ASM ombudsperson, Jessica Light, concluded the presentations with a summary of the history of diversity, inclusion, and safety in ASM. It is great to see how far we have come, but the society, and its members, recognized there is still more work to do. After the presentations, we had a brief but very active panel discussion fielding questions from the audience. The session presenters and organizers collaborated on a resource guide to go along with the session for anyone interested in learning more about any of the topics the session touched upon.

Data Help Desk Team from left to right: Verity Mathis (Florida Museum) Leah Card (NEON), Molly Phillips (iDigBio) and David Bloom (VertNet) --Bonus points if you can spot our jounior volunteer in this picture.

The ASM Data Help Desk was a collaboration among iDigBio, VertNet, NEON, and the Florida Museum. The Data Help Desk team answered questions about digitizing and mobilizing specimen data and how to access research-quality biodiversity and environmental data through the three project portals.  David Bloom even mobilized a couple of datasets on site! We also fielded several inquiries about the value of teaching collections. Our answer is if your collection has data then it has value for research, so let’s get it digitized!