ASLO's Outreach Activities

Prepared by Adrienne Sponberg
ASLO Director of Public Affairs

ASLO's outreach activities fall into four categories:

Public Outreach Programs

Image Library

In 2003, the ASLO Education and Human Resources Committee launched an image library that has ~900 images available for educational purposes. This is one of the most often accessed portions of the ASLO website and is accessed heavily by non-members. Anyone may submit images to the site. The Committee continues to recruit more images for the library, which is fully searchable by keyword, including habitat, organism, sampling technique, and so on.

Career Information and Mentoring

ASLO Website

ASLO has several pages on its website which are aimed at providing information about aquatic science careers. These are among the most heavily accessed pages on our website and we frequently are contacting by parents of middle or high school students who are looking for further information. Below is a brief description of the resources available.

Careers in the Aquatic Sciences
ASLO is often asked how students can prepare for careers in aquatic science. The ASLO Student Representatives ( have provided information to help you to pursue your interest in the aquatic sciences.

Careers in Public Policy
Many graduate students in aquatic sciences are interested in jobs that "bridge the gap" between science and policy, but aren't sure where they are or what they entail. The ASLO Director of Public Affairs has provided general information about policy jobs.

Career Link Program
The Career Link Program is designed to help graduating students connect with potential mentors in graduate school, and to find post-graduate employment.

External links
A list of external links that provide useful information on careers in the aquatic sciences is also on the website.

Public Policy Training Workshops

The ASLO Director of Public Affairs regularly conducts training workshops for students, postdocs and faculty on how to communicate with lawmakers. The workshops range in time from 1.5 hours (over lunch at an ASLO conference) to 6 hours (off-site at a marine institution). The goal of the workshops is to facilitate ASLO members' direct communication with their lawmakers regarding their research. The training workshops are very popular with the membership, particularly students. Several workshop participants have followed up after the training either by visiting lawmakers in DC or inviting their representatives to visit their lab facilities.

Society Resources and Mentoring Programs

ASLO is involved in several initiatives aimed at training and mentoring the future generation of aquatic scientists. Below is a brief list of those components along with a link to further information on each program.

Student Programs

The Student Programs page offers information and resources for undergraduate and graduate students in the aquatic sciences.

Minorities in the Aquatic Sciences

ASLO is a co-sponsor of the Minorities in the Aquatic Sciences program, which was initiated in 2001 to establish a database and electronic resources to link minority students interested in the aquatic sciences, and to enhance their participation in aquatic science community activities and careers.

The MAS Program consists of the following:

  • Minority Student Directory - A centralized resource for high school, undergraduate and graduate students where they can introduce themselves and their work to the community-at-large.
  • Student Registration Form - All minority high school, undergraduate and graduate students are eligible for this database and electronic communication lists. Once registered with the MAS program, minority college students who are US citizens or on permanent or temporary resident status are eligible to become part of the searchable database, which is confidential.
  • Profiles of Minority Aquatic Scientists - Highlights individual achievements and perspectives with the goal of identifying minority mentors, role models and established professionals.
  • Resources - Materials concerning minorities in the aquatic sciences.
  • ASLO - Hampton University Minorities in the Aquatic Sciences Project - Organized by Dr. Benjamin Cuker, this program centers on a workshop for minority students held in conjunction with ASLO's annual meeting.

ASLO Professional Development Online Chats

ASLO has launched an initiative to help our student members as they progress through the various stages of their careers. We will make experts from several sectors (i.e., academia, government, non-profit, industry) available to give their perspectives and answer questions you submit on a range of relevant topics. After the initial Q & A session, the discussion will be opened for general input that might arise, and a Q & A for the next topic will begin. Collectively, these chats will be an insightful resource to students seeking a career in the aquatic sciences.

Programs for Recent PhDs

This program is aimed at recent Ph.D. graduates in the aquatic sciences. Both DIALOG (pronounced dialogue - Dissertations Initiative for the Advancement of Limnology and Oceanography Graduates) and DISCCRS (pronounced discourse - Dissertations Initiative for the Advancement of Climate Change Research) are sponsored by multiple organizations, and their goal is to provide connections across distant disciplines and to establish a global network of colleagues from divergent backgrounds. The programs are coordinated by Dr. Susan Weiler and include:

  • Symposia - designed to foster interdisciplinary understanding, communication, career development and networking. Participation is by application. Program reports are generated to characterize demographic information of graduate population and to archive symposia results.
  • Resources - annotated list of resources developed by symposium participants.
  • Ph.D. Registry -highlights accomplishments of registered graduates and provides a concise overview of emerging research.


ASLO has several initiatives aimed at improving aquatic science education.


STARS stands for Students Active in Aquatic Science Research. ASLO sponsored its first high school outreach program during its 2005 meeting in Salt Lake City. Students from local communities participated in a luncheon discussion of local watershed issues, a field trip to the Great Salt Lake, and a roundtable discussion of careers. The event culminated with presentations of the student's own research work at the afternoon poster session. The program was very successful and will be repeated at future ASLO meetings.

ASLO Meeting Presentations Online

A series of presentations were made at the 2003 ASLO Aquatic Sciences meeting, in conjunction with a special session entitled "Leave No Scientist Behind: How to Get Aquatic Sciences Into K-12 Classrooms". The original presentations were either oral or poster format, and have been converted to Adobe PDF files, available for download.

Public Policy

In addition to advocacy events such as congressional visits day, signing letters of support for various science policy initiatives, publishing aquatic science policy reports and working with larger science coalitions such as the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF), ASLO's Public Affairs Office conducts several activities geared towards policymakers that would fall under the umbrella of outreach. Below is a brief description of those activities.

Informational Briefings

On occasion, ASLO will host or co-host topical briefings on Capitol Hill aimed at facilitating dialogue between leading scientists and policy-makers on a specific topic, such as iron fertilization of oceans.

Classroom on the Hill

In 2006, ASLO is launching a new initiative aimed at providing a crash course on an aquatic science issue for legislative staff in Congress. The classes will take place over a catered lunch and will target staff whose member serves on the relevant committees - i.e., the people who are most directly involved with drafting and amending legislation dealing with aquatic habitats. These sessions aren't to advocate any particular policy but to give the staff members some basic training in aquatic science so they may better interpret the information presented to them by advocates of various policies. This concept is a result of the ASLO Public Affairs Director's personal experience as a Knauss fellow in the Senate; most congressional staff have little to no scientific training and would often call on Knauss or AAAS fellows for an unbiased explanation of scientific concepts such as "maximum sustainable yield" in fisheries or carbon sequestration.

Participation on national advisory committees

ASLO maintains a seat on a subcommittee of the federal Advisory Committee on Water Information. Two ASLO members share responsibility for filling ASLO's seat on the National Water Quality Monitoring Council. ASLO has also nominated members for seats on other federal policy advisory boards, such as scientific advisory boards and working groups for federal agencies.