'FindAScienceBerth': connecting underrepresented groups in marine science with available berths on scientific research vessels

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: School of Life Sciences


The Challenger Society for Marine Science (the UK's main professional society for marine science) recently conducted a survey of its members, revealing that of those surveyed 92% identified as being from a white background compared to 86% of the population of England and Wales, while 38% identified as female compared to 51% of the general population. This disparity in both racial and gender representation suggest that marine science is a discipline lacking in diversity, partially through lack of access to practical experience.

With the aim of breaking down that barrier to diversity, this project proposes to build a web-based add-on software application called 'Findascienceberth.com' (FASB) that advertises available berths on scientific vessels out width the current networks aware of these available positions. Because much of marine science is conducted from large, ocean-going and expensive research vessels , the ability to connect with this work from outside one of the limited number of marine science institutions is very valuable and would benefit potential participants looking to gain seagoing experience while working on other projects so that they may be better equipped to pursue a career in this discipline. After development of this application and integration with the existing software used to organise seagoing research vessels, this project will design selection criteria and a monitoring scheme to enable those from underrepresented or disadvantaged backgrounds to fill these available berths and have the chance of participating in research cruises.

In order to publicise the application widely, this project will organise and deliver three outreach events during the pilot phase of the project. The goal of these sessions is to raise awareness of FASB by providing details on the aims, structure and benefits of FASB and answering any questions that future users of the system may have. Successful participants on the project will be asked to write a personal account of their involvement, to be showcased to future applicants from diverse backgrounds and encourage them to consider a career in marine science.

Stakeholders for this work include:
Project design team: Anna McGregor (project lead), Kate Hendry, Katrien Van Landeghem, Ben Fisher and Alice Marzocchi
Project advisory group: Sophie Fielding (British Antarctic Survey) and Eleanor Darlington (National Oceanography Centre) who regularly use the existing Marine Facilities Planning portal for organising and managing seagoing research projects; they will advise on connecting the software application to the existing MFP portal
Software development: Beiko Maas (MAAS Software Engineering); they will create the software add-on
The Challenger Society for Marine Science (Siddhi Joshi, Madeline Anderson, Katie Sieradzan) and Incredible Oceans/Siren Calling CIC (Russell Arnott & Ian Rowlands, Directors) will provide connections for advertising the application through their membership and networks, as well as advise with EDI monitoring and outreach work

Keywords: Equality, Diversity and Inclusitivity; Seagoing marine research; Blind selection criteria; Widening participation; Outreach; available science berths; Marine Facilities Planning
Description One of the notable achievements for this award was developing an inclusive application process. Most opportunities for joining research expeditions to gain fieldwork experience are evaluated based on previous fieldwork experience, creating an exclusionary cycle. Our transparent selection process was aimed at matching capable early-career scientists with available space on research vessels to fill this gap in gaining experience within the discipline.
Exploitation Route We are already in touch with a UN Decade of the Ocean programme, to support individuals from overseas to gain field experience in the same way that UK applicants will in the next future. They are currently trying to sort out funding to support individuals.
Sectors Aerospace

Defence and Marine



Title FindAScienceBerth add-on to the Marine Facilities Planning portal 
Description This software provides additional functionality to the current Marine Facilities Planning portal that coordinates research efforts using research vessels across the UK and other countries. It added the ability to view the number of berths not currently filled on specific ships and have users apply for these available places. It can be accessed by a free password protected account, although users need to sign up for it. 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2022 
Impact We aim to have full access to this software available for the next round of cruise planning, which opens twice annually, with the next available one in October 2023. After that point, we should be able to admit applicants to be involved in a research cruise and will evaluate the impact after those applicants have participated on ships. 
URL https://findascienceberth.wordpress.com/