The Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology is pleased to announce that Katrina Munsterman, EEB Ph.D. Student, is the winner of this year’s EEB JEDI Award! This award was started during the 2020-21 academic year and has been supported by funding from the EEB department and the Rackham Allies program. It recognizes either individuals or projects that have made significant contributions to Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and the winner is chosen by the EEB JEDI committee (John Vandermeer, Melissa Duhaime, Tom Duda, Dan Rabosky, Jo Kurdziel, Justin Hopper, Grace Zhang, and Susanna Gutierre). 

Munsterman is an EEB PhD student working with Jake Allgeier, asssociate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology,  and their lab group, to start the Pre-college Ocean Discovery and Science Program (PODS) in The Bahamas. The program’s main goals are to teach Bahamian high school students about coastal ecosystems, introduce them to Bahamians involved in ecological research and conversation, conduct independent research projects, and to help students navigate college applications and future careers in science. Mentorship is at the heart of her focus. 

 “I receive fulfillment simply from connecting with the students – teaching them about their local ecosystems, helping them design and conduct their own research projects, and encouraging them to recognize their potential as leaders in science and conservation in their own country,” said Munsterman.

Also at the heart of her work are core JEDI values. Working with diverse populations in local communities, Munsterman stresses the importance of knowing and understanding the community being studied. 

“To me, my JEDI “work” is not separate from my academic work and is an integral part of my research,” she said. “I study fisheries in tropical coastal ecosystems in areas of the world where people rely on the sea for food and livelihoods. Unfortunately, these areas of the world often face higher poverty rates and greater impacts by climate change.” 

In the future, Munsterman hopes to continue to watch PODS grow. Currently, the program consists of instructional online courses as well as an in-person field course in Abaco, The Bahamas. She is the lead instructor for the program, working in collaboration with the Coastal Ecology and Conservation Lab at UM, Friends of the Environment (a non-profit conservation and education group in Abaco), and many Bahamian researchers. In the long term, she hopes to continue to bring JEDI values to her work as a scientist. 


Follow on Social Media:
PODS field course in The Bahamas is coming up! Follow along as our students conduct independent research projects in Abaco – twitter handles: @AllgeierLab @ks_munsterman.