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From left: Reece James and Angelicque White.

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa oceanography graduate student Reece James and professor Angelicque White were selected by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) for the Gilliam Fellows Program. They join a cohort of 50 science graduate student-adviser pairs who are recognized for their outstanding research as well as their commitment to advancing equity and inclusion in science. This is the first Gilliam Fellow awarded to a UH Mānoa student.

Administered by HHMI’s Center for the Advancement of Science Leadership and Culture, the Gilliam Fellows Program will provide each student-adviser pair with $53,000 in support each year for up to three years of the student’s dissertation research.

“Being selected for this program is both validating and inspiring; both a recognition of the work that myself and Dr. White have put forth to further the scientific community, and an opportunity to expand our understanding of how we can contribute to the ongoing advancement of diverse, equitable and inclusive life science research,” said James.

James and White’s research involves using imaging tools that can be deployed from the sea surface and lowered through the depths of the ocean to the seafloor. James’ work with the Hawaiʻi Ocean Time-series combines this imaging technology with machine learning algorithms to describe the abundance and diversity of small organisms and microbes in the North Pacific.

Advancing an inclusive experience

Fellows join a vibrant community and are offered leadership training, professional development, and opportunities to engage with and learn from peers, program alumni and HHMI scientists. Their advisers also join a cohort of peers, participate in HHMI’s intensive, one-year mentorship skills development course, and receive support to promote healthy and inclusive graduate training environments at their home institution.

“We are particularly excited to engage with the Gilliam community, leadership training, and professional development that is offered through the HHMI fellowship,” said White. “This is a chance to engage with other life scientists who value the diversity and equitability of our fields, receive educational support which prioritizes DEI advancement, and to learn from alumni efforts.”

This program will further the diversity, equity and inclusion efforts that James and White have been involved in before and during their time at UH Mānoa including James co-authoring the article “Navigating Gender at Sea” that details the experiences of transgender and gender diverse oceanographers during sea-going fieldwork. The article outlines new recommendations for individuals, cruise leaders, and institutions for making seagoing fieldwork more inclusive for transgender and gender diverse scientists.

For more information, see School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology’s website.

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