Seaworthy Conversations: Building a Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive Blue Future
The future for our global ocean must be one that is radically inclusive of all who seek to drive positive change to preserve it. Seaworthy Collective embraces this in our ANCHORED values. Last week, Seaworthy hosted a lively panel of leaders creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive (DEI) ocean & climate science landscape. Not only did we dive deep into DEI in both academia and industry, but we talked about how we can develop these critical foundations for building the future the ocean needs. The ocean needs all the help it can get, and it's critical for everyone who can contribute to that future to be able to have an opportunity to join in those efforts. We were even more inspired by the thoughtful questions posed from members of our community, where people genuinely sought to learn how they can be better allies or help drive that change themselves. Hopefully this inspires more discussions and reflections amongst other communities, industry leaders, and academics alike, there is a lot to learn and even more change needed!
About our panel:
Graduate Research Assistant
Yager Lab, University of Georgia
Leslie Townsell’s interest in Marine Science dates back to her childhood when her mother would take her to the maritime center in Connecticut and other aquariums during their travels. Her father, an avid swimmer, took it upon himself to instill his love of swimming in her. Her parents encouraged her love of water and her curiosity of marine life. She was afforded the opportunity of a lifetime when her family took her to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. While snorkeling, she observed the complex and often mutualistic interactions of marine life. Upon learning that coral reef systems around the world were dying, her interest in marine conservation grew. When she was in high school, she had the opportunity to work with corals hands on.
During a semester-long project at Lovett, she researched the propagation of yellow polyp corals in an elective marine biology course. Her interest in pursuing a career in marine science was re-ignited. During this class, she also took a field trip where she observed marine research in action at Skidaway Island. Upon graduation she enrolled at Spelman College.
Leslie received her B.S. in Biology from Spelman College. During her final years at Spelman she completed an independent research project, and also volunteered at the Georgia Aquarium. She later completed her thesis research at The Georgia Institute of Technology and obtained her M.S. in Biology from Clark Atlanta University. After working for a few years, Leslie enrolled at the University of Georgia (UGA).
Currently, Leslie’s research in the department of Marine Science at UGA explores the impacts of climate change on oyster aquaculture along the Georgia coast focusing on coastal acidification. Leslie's goal is to increase the sustainability in Georgia’s coastal fisheries and aquaculture and promote healthy coastal ecosystems. She enjoys marine science because she loves being on the water and investigating what’s underneath it. While at UGA Leslie noticed the lack of Black scientists and wanted to do something about it.
Leslie is passionate about increasing diversity in marine science which she does through her leadership role in Black In Marine Science, a non-profit which promotes and amplifies the voices of Black Marine Scientist and shines a light on the lack of diversity in the field. She is also an active participant of the UGA, Department of Marine Science, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) committee.
Growing up around strong women of color has empowered her to become a role model for other young women, especially those who might be apprehensive on entering the STEM field. She intends to break down barriers in her field and pave a way to make it a little easier for those black girls following in her footsteps. In her spare time, she enjoys swimming, SCUBA, (really anything involving water), traveling, and trying new foods!
Always remember when faced with adversity, “Just keep swimming!” –Dory, Finding Nemo
Aquatic Ecology and Ecotoxicology Lab, Florida International University
Rose Santana was born in Dominican Republic and moved to Germany. As a child she would always go out to sea with her grandfather who was a fisherman and eventually earned a Bachelors degree in Biotechnology. She knew what she really wanted was to study the ocean though, so eventually she moved to Miami, Florida and earned her second Bachelors degree in Marine Biology. She was the President of her schools chapter of the Society of Women in Marine Science and eventually was selected to participate in a 21-Day research expedition in the Canadian Arctic, where she used drones and ROVs to look at ice formations. Currently she is the lab manager of the Aquatic Ecology and Ecotoxicology laboratory at Florida International University, where she studies the effects of metal contaminants on fish behavior, primarily predator-prey interactions
Founder & CEO, Seaworthy Collective
Daniel Kleinman is Seaworthy Collective's Founder and CEO, and a marine roboticist. Daniel received his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida, focusing on ocean technology while following a passion for exploring and understanding the oceans. As an undergraduate, Daniel interned with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and became a University Innovation Fellow. After graduating in 2015, Daniel spent two years as a Pilot and Test Engineer for Bluefin Robotics' unmanned underwater vehicles in Boston. Daniel spent the following three years in San Diego as a Navy Contractor contributing to mechanical engineering research and development for maritime systems. Daniel recently started his Master's in Exploration Science at The University of Miami RSMAS and was recognized as a Miami Global Shaper. Daniel launched Seaworthy Collective in the fall of 2020, channeling his passion, network, and industry knowledge to empower a community of current and aspiring ocean innovators and entrepreneurs.