Sierra magazine interviews grad student, Campbell for article on diversity in field research

Sierra magazine interviewed members of the University of Maine School of Earth and Climate Sciences — Annie Boucher, a master’s student and research assistant, and Seth Campbell, a research geophysicist and assistant professor — for the article “On the Juneau Icefield, Women Reimagine Who Does Science.” Boucher, who also is the program manager of the Juneau Icefield Research Program (JIRP), reflected on her experience with discrimination and lack of diversity in scientific research, especially in the field. JIRP is working to change that. “We want to run a science education program, and we want everyone to feel as comfortable as possible so they can fully participate in that program,” said Boucher. The program is the second longest running glacier monitoring program in the world, and the study of glaciers can yield insights into past and present climates, geology and hydrology of natural systems, the article states. In five of the last six years, the majority of participants have been women, a contrast to the male-dominated origins of the program. And it’s not just women supporting the changes. “As the senior-most woman in this program, I haven’t always had to take the lead on the sexual harassment conversation,” said Boucher. “I have never once felt at JIRP like there weren’t men who had my back.” According to the article, the program has an official code of conduct and reporting pathway as of this summer to address the pervasive issues of discrimination and sexual harassment in scientific research. “We have an understanding of the history of JIRP. There have been some complaints in the past. This is something we can fix, and tackle any issues that come up through the season head on, and be proactive about that,” said Campbell, the executive director of JIRP. “My goal and Annie’s goal is to knock it out of the park.” Campbell drew on models from programs in areas like Greenland and Antarctica to inform JIRP’s protocol, according to Sierra magazine. The pair is continuing to work toward making JIRP more inclusive for researchers of different genders and cultures to expand the inclusivity of scientific field research overall.