Note: The PEP students presented their final symposium on August 7. Read more about the students and their research abstracts here!
Sixteen college students from around the country are participating in this year’s Woods Hole Partnership Education Program (PEP). It offers the same basic content and growth experiences as in past summers, but unlike the past, this year’s program is virtual.
Usually, the students would be traveling to Cape Cod in late May to start their summer internship in Woods Hole. Instead, a virtual orientation session on May 29 introduced the students to each other, to the program, to the Woods Hole scientific institutions, and to their scientific mentors. Students come from large research universities and small liberal arts colleges, and from a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Their mentors are members of the scientific staffs of the six member institutions, including the Marine Biological Laboratory.
A project of the Woods Hole Diversity Initiative, PEP was founded in 2004 by the six scientific institutions in Woods Hole. Its goal is to attract and retain a more diverse workforce, one that reflects the changing demographics of the nation and the world. The first PEP class was held in 2009.
“When it became clear in mid-April that the COVID-19 pandemic would make a residency program in 2020 unlikely, the PEP staff thought hard about whether to cancel, as many other summer programs have, or whether to take the risk of trying to figure out how to run a non-residency program,” said George Liles, director of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center’s Academic Programs Office and PEP director.
After talking with other program leaders and with PEP alumni, organizers decided that the program had to continue in 2020. “The students we serve do not have the luxury of putting their education and career on hold for the year or more it will take for the pandemic to pass,” said Liles. “Likewise, the Woods Hole community does not have the luxury of putting aside its efforts to learn how to become a more inclusive and diverse community.” Read more …