Equity and Diversity

The Equity and Diversity Committee shall consist of seven members elected from the members in good standing in the annual election and shall serve for three years, plus the current chair of the Student Affairs Committee (SAC), or their designee, who shall serve for one year. The terms of all elected members of the committee shall commence on January 1 following the year in which they are elected. It is the duty of the nominating committee to ensure their slate retains a committee membership that reflects diversity in gender, sexual orientation, race, age, creed (and other foreseeable categories into which members might self-identify) to the extent possible, being aware of the potential for overburdening members of these groups with service work. The Chair of the Committee shall be one of the committee members, selected by the President. The Committee shall update and otherwise maintain, as necessary, the Code of Conduct. Changes to the Code of Conduct shall be proposed by the committee and must be approved by a majority vote of the Executive Committee. Any member of the committee shall be willing to receive complaints from the membership regarding violations of the Code of Conduct, as stated in the Code of Conduct. The Committee shall also strive to educate the society membership on issues pertaining to equity and diversity through events at the annual meeting and through other forms of communication such as e-mail and social media. Finally, the committee is also tasked with receiving, reviewing, and awarding the Young Professional Recruitment Fund awards.

The Equity and Diversity Committee members for 2023 are Jim Gelsleichter (Chair, email), Catherine Macdonald, Triana Arguedas Alvarez, Grace Casselberry, Andy Nosal, Mariah Pfleger, Jasmin Graham, Emily Meese, and Mikki McComb-Kobza.

You can contact any member of the Equity and Diversity Committee with suggestions, questions, or concerns about Equity and Diversity topics. To report a code of conduct violation contact any member of the Equity and Diversity Committee, any member of the Executive Committee, email secretary@elasmo.org, or submit an anonymous report here.



The Equity and Diversity Committee is pleased to announce that we now have an AES Code of Conduct, effective immediately. The Code of Conduct was written by the Equity and Diversity committee in consultation with other societies that have taken similar action. The Code of Conduct then was reviewed and adjusted by our legal counsel (Bricker & Associates) to ensure that it was legally defensible, and follows existing laws and best practices. Finally, the AES Board of Directors voted to adopt the Code of Conduct by a 14-0-1 vote. Please note that this is in addition to, not instead of, our existing Code of Ethics.

September 1, 2020
The American Elasmobranch Society (AES) is aware of a number of problems with the culture of shark research, especially regarding the treatment of women in our field and in the scientific field as a whole. We sincerely regret that incidents that have promoted a culture of sexism have occurred during our annual society meetings, and apologize to those who have been directly affected and those who have been made to feel unwelcome in our field. Further, we thank those who have come forward with their stories for giving us the impetus to make changes for the better.  AES strives to create a welcoming atmosphere where everyone’s voice is heard and collaboration can take place. Over the past few years AES has taken a lead on creating a Code of Conduct (CoC) for the Society and has worked with our other three societies of the Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (JMIH) to devise a conference-wide CoC and whistleblower reporting structure, including an external ombudsman to reduce conflicts of interest and to ensure that incidents can be resolved in a timely fashion. The CoC also provides a framework for any necessary disciplinary action for violations and makes it possible to report CoC violations to our newly established Equity & Diversity Committee anonymously (more information here). The purpose of this standing committee is to work towards greater inclusivity and diversity within AES, so that our membership better reflects the communities in which we live. To this end, we have maintained the Young Professional Recruitment Fund since 2017, which supports young scientists from developing nations or historically underrepresented minority groups, and we recently issued a formal statement in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. In addition, we are continuing to work with the other JMIH societies to develop an equitable long-term model for providing childcare at our annual meetings, and to improve the meeting experience for the benefit of LGBTQ+ attendees.  AES reiterates its commitment to continually improve the culture in our Society and adapt to ensure that all people are welcome and supported. We hope that our efforts can help counter some of the harm done and that we can play a role in making shark research a safer, more equitable, and welcoming field for everyone.

June 3, 2020
The American Elasmobranch Society condemns the historical and continued institutional racism that so heinously affects our Black members, colleagues, and friends. We acknowledge, respect, and stand with them. The recent and historic violence against Black people is not supported by our society.  We are committed to diversity, equity, and equality and as such, we commit ourselves to identifying and addressing the explicit and implicit biases within our society and our field. We acknowledge that the AES has been dominated by white voices and faces since its founding, and we must do more to amplify and promote voices of Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), to educate ourselves and our members, and to create a space that is free of hate and bias. We strive to foster an inclusive environment and lower the barriers that result in underrepresentation of BIPOC in elasmobranch biology.  We recognize that science is stronger with greater diversity and join other scientific societies in committing to advance the cause of underrepresented BIPOC in science. We stand against oppression of any kind, but specifically recognize the institutionalized racism that BIPOC face in entering the scientific sphere. We demand accountability for law enforcement and commit to similarly providing accountability in science.  In memory of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many more that paid the ultimate price for the color of their skin, Black Lives Matter.


As you start to prepare your presentations for the annual meeting, the Equity & Diversity Committee would like to draw your attention to these sites which provide a color-blind friendly palette and where you can test your slides for accessibility by people who are color-blind: https://jacksonlab.agronomy.wisc.edu/2016/05/23/15-level-colorblind-friendly-palette and  https://www.color-blindness.com/coblis-color-blindness-simulator

This recent article titled “Safe working environments are key to improving inclusion in open-ocean, deep-ocean, and high-seas science” on safe working environments aboard research vessels. Since some of our members conduct shipboard research, this short paper is relevant.

We would like to draw your attention to this article about The Smithsonian’s #MeToo Moment.  Although it is specific to a single field station, the same concerns apply to many of our members who conduct field research.

Here is a recent publication on building an anti-racism plan for scientific organizations. Although the article, titled “An actionable anti-racism plan for geoscience organizations” is specifically targeted at geoscience organizations, the principles apply to all scientific organizations. There are specific actionable items in this paper, some of which are already being addressed by AES, and some will be implemented in the future.

This article titled “Ecology and Evolutionary Biology must elevate BIPOC scholars” contains specific action items included for various levels, from advisors to scientific societies.

The Equity & Diversity Committee would like to draw your attention to this recent paper, “How to Be an Ally to Women in Fisheries Science”. Although it is specific to fisheries scientists, that group does include AES members, and the general themes are relevant to everyone. The link provides only the first page with the remainder of the article behind a paywall. If you do not have institutional access to the paper, the email address of the corresponding author is provided on the first page.

A report on sexual harassment in marine science released by Women in Ocean Science can be found here.

This short article on building an antiracist lab provides some guidelines for actionable items and is worth a read by students and advisors.

Since many AES members have an active fieldwork component to their research the Equity & Diversity Committee would like to draw your attention to this article on safe fieldwork practices for at-risk individuals.  It is a short article and worth reading for students and advisors.


Resources for PIs, academic administrators and program faculty


General Materials


How to be an Ally

Educational Reform

Understanding Anti-Racism

Testimonies from the Community

Demographic Perspectives