Our Story

Project Biodiversify was spearheaded by Ash Zemenick and Marjorie Weber, who are community and evolutionary ecologists that care a great deal about fostering inclusivity and increasing diversity in STEM. Their idea for the project was supported via a National Science Foundation’s Postdoctoral Fellowship in Biology – Broadening Participation of Groups Under-represented in Biology.

Inclusive Pedagogy

Dr. Alex Webster and Dr. Sarah Jones have been critical in our efforts to generate methods for teaching sex-related topics in biology in a more accurate and inclusive manner.

Alex is an ecosystem and landscape ecologist. She is currently a post-doc at University of Alaska, Fairbanks, where she is studying ecological resilience and the response of stream biogeochemisty to destabilizing permafrost and changing fire regimes. She is passionate about promoting diversity and inclusivity in STEM. In addition to her work with Project Biodiversity, she is a founding member of the Society for Freshwater Science’s ad hoc Diversity and Inclusivity committee, which is examining the role of scientific societies in promoting D&I. Alex and Ash met as graduate students in the Ecology Graduate Group at University of California, Davis, where they were early contributors to the GGE Diversity Committee.

Sarah is a behavioral ecologist and who just finished her PhD at Michigan State University. Her dissertation focused on the the evolution and physiological control of female aggression, using spotted hyenas as a model system. She is passionate about working with both scientists and educators to improve science education and to bring accurate and up-to-date science into the classroom. She has worked towards these goals via participation in groups such as the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Teaching Fellows in K-12 Education Program and Inside Teaching MSU.

Content Editors

Melissa uses her formal training in ecology and informal training in science education to bring contemporary research and role models into K-16 classrooms. She is a co-founder of the Data Nuggets program and is currently working with Project Biodiversity through an NSF IUSE grant: “Diversifying and humanizing scientist role models to increase the impact of data literacy instruction on student interest and retention in STEM.” She is excited to strengthen the collaboration between Data Nuggets and Project Biodiversity to increase representation in STEM classes.

Aaron Slater is the newest member of our team who is helping to build and upkeep Project Biodiversify! Aaron is currently a senior undergraduate at Michigan State University, finishing a degree in zoology with a concentration in ecology, evolution, and organismal biology. His research interests involve plant-animal interactions and the dynamics of trait evolution. Thanks to Michigan State University’s  Department of Plant Biology for funding!

Logo Design

Our fantastic logo was graciously designed by Dr. Allison Simler-Williamson. Allison is a scientist and artist who got her PhD in Ecology in the Rizzo Lab at UC Davis and earned her bachelor’s degree in Studio Art from Duke University. Her ecological research focuses on the impacts of human-altered disturbance regimes in coast redwood and mixed evergreen forests, but she is also passionate about using the visual arts to communicate her own and others’ scientific research. She has received commissions to create artwork focused on scientific themes for PLOS and the Jepson Herbarium, and she has worked closely with the UC Davis Art-Science fusion program, a series of undergraduate courses that combine scientific topics and artistic media to teach visual literacy and communication


Turning the idea into a reality

Project Biodiversify would not have been possible without the support of many wonderful people:

Development would not have been possible without Sacha Heath, the Rosenheim Lab (Jay Rosenheim, Michael Culshaw-Mauer, and Bodil Cass), the Weber Lab (Carina Baskett, Dan HughesErika LaPlanteEric LoPresti, and Elizabeth Yablon), the Wetzel Lab (Will Wetzel, Andrea GlassmireKayleigh HauriJosh Snook, and Luke Zehr)

Helpful feedback was also provided by: B Bradburd, Gideon BradburdMark Hunter, Mike KoontzJo Kurdziel, Joanna Solins, and Sharon Strauss. 

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