Delmarva SWMS Symposium

September 18, 2019

This past Friday, the Society for Women in Marine Science (SWMS) chapters at Horn Point Lab, University of Delaware, and Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) hosted the first annual Delmarva SWMS Symposium. SWMS was founded in 2014 by a group of women at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) and is now run by volunteer early-career scientists based around the U.S. Since it’s been founded, 20 chapters have started at universities across the globe. The mission of SWMS is to bring together marine scientists of all career levels to discuss the diverse experiences of women in marine science, celebrate the research done by women in the field, and promote the visibility of women in the marine science community. An annual fall SWMS Symposium is typically hosted by New England SWMS chapters. In recent years, the symposium has gained a lot of attention, resulting in a waitlist. Considering the close proximity of the Delmarva SWMS chapters, we thought it would be a good idea to host the first Delmarva SWMS Symposium. 

The theme of the Delmarva SWMS Symposium was Diving Deep into Scientific CommunicationThe event began with a panel of female marine scientists that work in various career levels including industry, academia, non-profit, and government. They answered questions and shared discussions on communication, barriers faced, potential career paths, and more. It was followed by an interactive science communication workshop led by UMCES’s Integration Application Network (IAN) team where we learned how to use effective visualizations and create an appealing conference poster. 


On Saturday, we held SWMS Saturday- an outreach event for young women in grades 6 to 12. 30 girls from all over the Eastern Shore travelled to Horn Point to partake in the event. After breakfast and introductions, girls were split up into three groups and rotated between 3 different marine science activities. Using binoculars, field guides, and the iNaturalist app, girls went on a mini Bio Blitz along Horn Point Lab trails, exploring various types of trees, insects, and birds. The girls learned oyster anatomy by conducting a dissection on a live oyster. And a current modeling activity demonstrated how wind drives surface currents and how water moves throughout a system. 

It was an awesome event full of laughs, high energy, and valuable networking! I am grateful to be surrounded by such like-minded female scientists and feel very fortunate that I never ran into any barriers during my education. We are the next generation of scientists and it is our responsibility to inspire those younger. I hope Delmarva SWMS Symposia will continue in the future!

Logo design: Emily Nastase

Photos: Pinky Liau