The LTER Network has been an extraordinarily open and welcoming community to many students and early career researchers over the years, but we are still embedded in a society and field that thoughtlessly privileges the experience and perspectives of the dominant culture. On June 10, 2020 much of academia broke the pattern of business-as-usual by devoting the day to self-education and action to address systemic racism in academia. The set of resources below was compiled initially as part of the call to #ShutDownSTEM and #ShutDownAcademia on June 10, 2020. It continues to grow and evolve along with our awareness and understanding.

Because there are so many sources of information on white privilege and systemic racism in general, we focus this list on specific readings and actions that are especially relevant to academic research, the field of ecology, and field experiences.

Each individual LTER site faces unique challenges and opportunities in building the strengths, skills, and relationships needed to create a fully inclusive learning and work environment. Please use the resources that resonate for your lab, program or location — and let us know what you find most helpful. If you have additional resources to share, please contact the LTER Network Office or the LTER Network Diversity Committee.

* Please note — you do NOT need a twitter account to view twitter accounts or hashtags (lists of individual tweets across many accounts that contain a particular hashtag (i.e. #ShutDownSTEM)).

Diversity Plans and Strategies

Developing a specific strategy for improving inclusion of underrepresented groups can be helpful in building community consensus and support and in identifying the resources that are most relevant at each site. The plans linked below may serve as helpful models. As additional sites develop plans, they will be added to the list.



Resources for developing inclusive plans and statements

Understanding the Problem in Academia

Understanding the Problem in Ecology

Creating an Inclusive Environment

You’re motivated to take action. Maybe your first impulse is to throw all your energy into recruiting a more diverse group of students, postdocs or faculty. That’s great. And the effort may benefit from first taking a moment to think about what kind of an environment they will find when they arrive.

Inclusivity in general

Diverse Racial and Ethnic Populations

Collaborations with Indigenous Knowledge Holders

Sexual and Affectional Minorities

  • Systemic inequalities for LGBTQ professionals in STEM. found that LGBTQ STEM professionals were more likely to experience career limitations, harassment, and professional devaluation than their non-LGBTQ peers. They also reported more frequent health difficulties and were more likely to intend to leave STEM. 

Access for All Abilities

  • The Association of Science and Technology Centers recently issued a digital accessibility toolkit. Although it’s oriented toward museum and science center interpreters, it’s got lots of valuable information for science communicators of all stripes.
  • The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) offers resources to help employers adapt the working environment for employees with a wide variety of disabilities.
  • The misuse of colour in science communication details how commonly used color maps distort perception for all readers and how they may make visualizations unreadable or misleading for those with color vision deficiencies. Includes recommendations for improved color mappings.
  • ADVANCE GEO has a set of resources focused on creating inclusive virtual environments, which is always useful but especially relevant as we all go virtual under COVID19.
  • 3PlayMedia is a closed captioning provider (no recommendation implied), which has a free biweekly webinar series on making digital media more accessible for individuals with limited hearing and vision.
  • The Center for Universal Design in Education offers ideas for incorporating universal design principles into the design of physical spaces, presentations, web sites, and publications.
  • In web design, alt-text offers a way for visually impaired readers to understand the role that images play on a web page. Scientific visualizations, such as charts and graphs, pose a special challenge in this area.  This 2020 article by visualization expert Amy Cesal offers useful tips.

In the Field

For many ecologists and geoscientists, field experiences are professionally and personally formative. But the long hours, informality, and lowering of barriers that form lifelong friendships can also allow bullying and harassment to go unchecked, increasing stress and driving talented researchers away.

Bystander Intervention

The culture of science will not change unless everyone participates in making change. Researchers of color cannot be the only ones identifying and challenging practices and behaviors that unfairly advantage White people. Learning to intervene effectively takes practice.

With travel restrictions in place, many in-person trainings are being revised as remote or hybrid trainings. We’ll update here as we learn of new remote resources.


Effective mentoring improves the learning, performance, and professional growth experience for everyone, by clarifying expectations and opportunities. First generation academics—from all backgrounds—may benefit most from good mentoring, but researchers instituting these practices have also seen better relationships and productivity for all their trainees.

Having difficult conversations


As you expand recruiting efforts — whether for students, faculty, staff or proposals — a strategic recruitment plan can help you decide how to prioritize time and resources. What does it take to make an institution more diverse? (Nature, 6 June 2018) offers some ideas for getting started.

There’s a great deal more to say about recruitment, and we’ll be expanding these resources in the coming weeks (as part of our #ShutDownSTEM commitment), but here are a few starting points:

Research Experience for Undergraduates anti-harassment curriculum from the IRIs internship program.

Many current studies are finding that standardized admissions tests, including the GRE, do a poor job of predicting academic success and tend to reduce access by under represented groups.  WE’ll be working to add resources on alternative selection approaches.

Seeking Funding

The LTER Network Office and the Diversity Committee maintains a Zotero Library of DEI-related publications, which can provide a head start when researching evidence-based practices and developing new programs.

Additional funding opportunities for programs and individual fellowships include:

  • Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science (NSF INCLUDES) is a comprehensive effort to enhance U.S. leadership in science and engineering discovery and innovation by proactively seeking and effectively developing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) talent from all sectors and groups in our society.
  • Ford Foundation Fellowships. Predoctoral, Dissertation, and Postdoctoral fellowships will be awarded in a national competition administered by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine on behalf of the Ford Foundation.
  • National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowships provide research experience in federal agencies, including EPA, NOAA.
  • The Mendenhall Research Fellowship Program of the U.S. Geological Service (USGS) provides an opportunity for postdoctoral fellows to conduct concentrated research in association with USGS scientists, often as a final element to their formal career preparation.
  • NASA funds postdoctoral and early-career investigators in Earth science through their New Investigator Program. The new investigator must be the PI on the proposal.
  • NSF Division of Earth Sciences offers postdoctoral awards. Award is made to individuals early in their careers, not to the associated institutions.
  • Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences Postdoctoral Fellowships. The program is intended to recognize beginning investigators of significant potential and provide them with experience in research that will broaden perspectives, facilitate interdisciplinary interactions and help establish them in leadership positions within the Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences community.
  • OECD Cooperative Research Program Fellowships. Supports conferences and travel fellowships, esp. in areas related to the OECD agriculture program,
  • Simons Postdoctoral Fellowships in Marine Microbial Ecology, application made by individual (up to 3 years post-PhD), award only to institution.
  • Simons Foundation Early Career awards in Marine Microbial Ecology, (More than one year and less than 8 years in a tenure track or equivalent position.
  • Remember to investigate individual institutional programs for supporting diverse grad students and postdocs. The UC system, for example, has an entire program.

Building Community

For now – Twitter Lists and accounts to follow. More to come soon.

Evidence that Diversity Improves Problem Solving and Creativity

Diverse teams incorporate different perspectives, promote healthy debate, and balance biases between team members. Research supports the idea that team collaboration is improved when women participate in a group. The phenomenon of diverse groups outperforming groups with similar constituents also seems to hold true for other types of identity diversity (i.e. race or culture) as well as functional diversity (i.e. diversity in how people solve problems). Emotional intelligence between group members can also improve group performance.