Funded by the National Science Foundation, ASPIRE aims to cultivate a generation of geoscientists with the leadership knowledge and skills, scholarship, and material support to reframe and rebrand the geosciences as socially relevant and, thereby, to broaden participation in these fields. This generation of geoscientists will do so by bridging longstanding divides that impede access to and inclusion in the geosciences: between basic and applied science, between scholars in the academy and members of historically marginalized communities, and between the places where science is needed and the places where it is typically conducted.  To bring about these types of change, we draw upon, refine, and institutionalize the working group model as the Mobile Working Group (MWG), directly referencing the need to move outside of the "ivory tower" and into the community.  Led by a geoscientist with one foot in the academy and the other in the community - each MWG focuses on a single issue linked to a single community.  ASPIRE supports multiple MWGs working across the geographic, ethnographic and "in practice" community space, as well as across the body of geoscience research and application.  The Center is a collaborative effort among the following institutions:

California State University, Monterey Bay (Lead Institution)

University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

University of Southern California

University of Washington

ASPIRE is funded under NSF’s GEO Opportunities for Leadership in Diversity (GOLD) that supports a number of other projects intended to broaden diversity at the leadership level in the geosciences. RFPs for ASPIRE working groups will be available in late summer-early fall of 2017. 


Centro Tortuga was developed to connect students at two undergraduate-focused institutions in Puerto Rico, Universidad del Turabo and Universidad Metropolitana, with research experiences in the marine sciences that are more frequently carried out at large universities.  In collaboration with the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, professors and students at UT and UMET engage in year-round activities to build basic research skills, field camps that introduce students to the challenges and excitement of working in coastal ecosystems, and professional development activities such as personal statement writing, science communication, and networking. 

Students are given opportunities to carry out research themselves, exposure to marine science professionals through seminars, internships, and travel to national meetings. Centro Tortuga is committed to developing partnerships among research and non-research institutions and government and non-profit institutions to build a sustainable and effective education center focused on Puerto Rico’s coastal ecosystems.

The project includes a diverse interdisciplinary team of scientists and educators from both the mainland United States and Puerto Rico. The team and center are committed to increasing marine science learning opportunities for underrepresented and underserved students.  Coordination of the partnership is facilitated by Maryland Sea Grant.  Collaborators include Jamie Pierson (UMCES-HPL), Pedro Maldonado (UMET), Maria Barbarena (UTurabo), and Carlos Olivo (Colorado State University).