If you are a science and conservation leader who believes in making a contribution to the world and sparking curiosity in young people, the Scientist-in-Residence Program may be for you.
The Scientist-in-Residence Program connects established science and conservation leaders with inquisitive young minds. Our students work with the Scientist-in-Residence on authentic science activities at our Living Lab facility in San Diego, California.
Interactions between the Scientist-in-Residence and the community will help to dispel negative scientific stereotypes, create a more science-informed society, and instill a belief that discovery is possible for everyone.
The Scientist-in-Residence is a competitive program open to science and conservation leaders from all professional fields who have an interest in mentoring underserved youth.
“As I got to know the students better, I was humbled by their stories of the challenges they face, and it was inspiring to see their motivation to learn about ocean science, as well as to hear about their aspirations for the future.”
–Jasmin John, NOAA climate scientist and Ocean Discovery’s first Living Lab Scientist-in-Residence
Young Scientists Need Mentors
For our students, the small moments with their scientific mentors are the biggest: the conversation about college life over lunch, the impromptu sing-along during the last 10 minutes of data entry, the words of praise after a long day in the field.
Story-telling by our scientific mentors, which includes discussion of their own educational and career pathways, obstacles, as well as their own “spark”, helps to inject a sense of hope into our community – a belief that they, too, can participate in science.
By becoming a Scientist-in-Residence, you will become immersed within a community devoted to nurturing students along their pathway to college and careers. You will share these big and small moments with our students and serve to help our youth model scientific and professional behavior and understand that every pathway to a scientific career is different.
Giving Back and Making a Difference
Becoming a Scientist-in-Residence can be a transformative experience in the career of any scientist. Through participation, Scientists-in-Residence receive:
- An immersive experience for authentic, meaningful scientific contributions and discoveries that will leave a lasting impact on Ocean Discovery Institute and our students.
- A robust mentorship training from experienced Ocean Discovery Institute staff to build transferable mentorship skills and comfort.
- Meaningful time spent directly interfacing with students and the public to communicate personal and/or employer’s research interests.
- Opportunities to meet personal, funder, or employer broader impacts and outreach goals and requirements.
- Opportunities to network with other scientists in San Diego’s exceptional scientific community.
Take a look at some stories highlighting the Scientist-in-Residence program:
- KPBS: “Why This NOAA Scientist Is Temporarily Calling City Heights Home”
- NOAA Ocean Heroes: “These NOAA Ocean Heroes Show That You Can Help the Ocean At Any Age”
- NOAA Fisheries: “New Lab Unlocks Opportunities for Future Scientists”
Ocean Discovery Institute currently hosts our Scientist-in-Residence opportunity at our Living Lab facility in City Heights, San Diego.
Living Lab Residency
Time Period: Year-round
Duration: 2-3 months
Audience: Students of all ages
Setting: State-of-the-art science education facility in an urban neighborhood
Purpose: Mentor students across programs
The Living Lab residency takes place at Ocean Discovery Institute’s Living Lab facility in San Diego. The Living Lab residency is built upon best practices and lessons learned from years of running our Baja residency, with the addition of new opportunities made possible by the Living Lab’s thousands of annual visitors and strategic location in the heart of an urban community.
Picture a Day at the Living Lab
You can check this section to see when future openings are filled by Scientists-in-Residence and which openings are still available.
- January: Filled – Catalina Martinez, NOAA
- February: Filled – Catalina Martinez, NOAA
- March: Filled – Catalina Martinez, NOAA
- April: Filled – Stan Tang, our Artist-in-Residence
- July: Filled – Dr. Sylvester James Gates, Ford Foundation Professor of Physics, Brown University
- August: Filled – Erika Santacruz Lopez, Grupo Tortuguero
- September: Open
- October: Open
- November: Open
- December: Open
- January: Open
- February: Open
- March: Open
- April: Tentatively Filled
- May: Tentatively Filled
- June:Tentatively Filled
- July: Open
- August: Open
- September: Open
- October: Open
- November: Open
- December: Open
LIVING LAB RESIDENCY
Mentor students across all Ocean Discovery Institute initiatives through integration into existing programs.
Conduct a Residency Project that leaves a lasting impact on the organization, such as the structure for a new field course, a design for an experiment to conduct in the Student Initiative, a self-guided Living Lab visitor experience, or a publication or report that disseminates his or her contributions, among other options. While the direction of most Residency Projects are informed by Ocean Discovery’s programmatic needs, we welcome ideas from candidates as well. Read more about potential projects to conduct at the Living Lab.
Deliver presentations to students, staff, and our community about your career and the pathway you took to get there.
Join in informal gatherings and conversations with students, such as over meals or while working on projects, that—collectively—build trust and relationships between scientists and students and ultimately build a sense of belief that a career in science is possible.
Connect your network of science professional colleagues to the organization to facilitate more science mentorship for our students.
The Living Lab term is between 2 to 3 months. Candidates may propose a shorter term than 2 months if circumstances necessitate a shorter stay.
The Scientist-in-Residence is expected to be “on the clock” while the Living Lab is open; generally, Monday through Friday from 9am – 6pm, with opportunities to engage with our community on Saturdays as well. This time will be a combination of interfacing with students and time for focused, independent work.
The Scientist-in-Residence must adhere to all Ocean Discovery Institute policies and procedures. During “off-the-clock” time spent interacting in the community and on days off, the Scientist-in-Residence must act as a professional and respectful ambassador of Ocean Discovery Institute.
In order to become fully immersed in the community, Scientists-in-Residence are expected to live in the Living Lab studio during their terms; however, alternate arrangements can be discussed on a case-by-case basis. Families may come to San Diego, but the Living Lab studio can only house 2 adults (and potentially a small child depending on the parents’ comfort). No pets are permitted in the Living Lab studio. Families can participate in activities and programs with the Scientist-in-Residence that are open to the general public.
Our definition of “scientist” is intentionally flexible and meant to include any professional who is a science and conservation leader from all science and environmental fields. Potential candidates are professionals who:
- Are currently employed (with the exception of retirees) in either a STEM field conducting science research; or, may not actively conduct research, but have a science background and work for a STEM employer; or, work in a STEM position with a non-STEM employer.
- Examples could include:
- A university professor;
- A NOAA or other government scientist;
- A scientist employed in industry;
- A non-research based position in a STEM agency or industry but with a science background; or
- An employee of a non-STEM agency or industry whose position is STEM-focused (such as a governmental or corporate employee who specializes in scientific topics).
- Are interested in and qualified to complete a unique project that fulfills an Ocean Discovery Institute need.
- Have a strong interest in mentoring students and comfort with informal interactions with diverse groups of people.
- Are at least 25 years old and have a minimum of 5 years of post-undergraduate experience, either in graduate school or employment in a scientific field (Ocean Leader program graduates excepted).
- Examples could include:
- Have an interest and ability to communicate science with the general public.
- Are comfortable with living in a community.
- Have an interest and ability to integrate into Ocean Discovery’s organizational culture, which prioritizes:
- An unshakable belief in young peoples’ ability to transform their lives;
- Learning, diversity, stewardship, leadership, and passion as the values that shape our actions;
- Our roots in the community which we serve;
- Innovation at the forefront of our work, which is driven by both data and instinct;
- Servant leadership, defined as leadership through serving others and enriching others’ lives; and
- Either represent the diversity or background of the City Heights community, or can relate to the challenges that our community faces.
- Can generate the “spark” that creates an interest in science in young people, either via their research interests or personality.
- Can pass a fingerprint and background check and a TB test.
Funding and Accommodations
Ocean Discovery does not provide funds to support the Scientist-in-Residence’s salary. A candidate must have salary funding from his/her employer or through secured grants.
- Ocean Discovery Institute will provide the following at no cost to the Scientist-in-Residence:
- Housing and utilities in the fully-equipped Living Lab studio apartment
- Access to an Ocean Discovery vehicle
- Basic laboratory equipment (microscopes, pipettes, beakers, etc.)
- Basic field supplies (backpacks, GPS devices, snorkel gear, etc.)
- General office supplies (desk space and supplies, printing, etc.)
- General educational supplies (notebooks, clipboards, markers, rulers, etc.)
- The Scientist-in-Residence is responsible for the following expenses:
- Travel to and from San Diego
- Any research or scientific supplies specific to his/her work
- Pre-residency expenses such as TB tests and LiveScan background checks
How long would I be there?
The preferred residency length is 2-3 months. This allows our scientists to become familiar and knowledgeable about Ocean Discovery, build relationships with staff, students, and partners, and to have robust and meaningful impacts through mentorship and completing a Residency Project. It is more challenging to meet all the Scientist-in-Residence goals during a shorter residency.
On a case-by-case basis, a shorter residency may be possible depending on candidates and our timeline.
Am I qualified?
If you conduct research, work for a STEM employer, or work in a STEM field, are passionate about mentoring students, and either represent the diversity of City Heights or can relate to our community’s challenges, then you probably are. More detailed qualifications can be found in our “Candidate Qualifications” section. If you are still interested but not sure if you qualify, you are welcome to contact Joel Barkan at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss further.
Do I need to have education experience?
No prior education experience is required, but comfort and willingness to interact with diverse groups of young people is, as Scientists-in-Residence interact with our students on nearly a daily basis. Ocean Discovery also provides a mentorship training to all Residents at the beginning of their stay.
What if I live in San Diego?
San Diego-based scientists are welcome to apply. A part of the commitment does involve staying in the Living Lab’s studio apartment, even if the scientist is local. San Diego-based scientists who prefer not to leave their homes can still be involved in other capacities.
What kind of project could I do?
The most successful projects are those that leverage the scientist’s expertise, fulfill a personal or professional goal of the scientist, contribute to an organizational need as identified by Ocean Discovery, and will leave a lasting impact on the organization and our students beyond the term of the residency.
Click here to read about past Scientists-in-Residence and learn about projects they conducted during their residencies.
Can I bring my pet?
Sorry, no pets (with the exception of service animals) are permitted inside the facility.
Can I bring my family?
The Living Lab’s studio apartment can accommodate two adults and potentially one small child. Family members could have the same access as the general public to the Living Lab and Ocean Discovery programs, which means they could volunteer during certain programs but would have restricted access when not volunteering.
If you wish to bring your family to San Diego during a residency, you are also welcome to arrange off-site lodging for them.
Scientists who are partners may also apply for Scientists-in-Residence positions together and undertake a residency together if they would be working on the same project.
What if I am retired?
We welcome anyone who is retired and meets our basic qualifications to apply for a residency.
The following represents the typical timeline for a single residency:
Candidates submit applications for the next open residency position
12-6 months in advance of start date
Candidates interview for the next open residency position
5 months in advance of start date
Be selected for a residency
4 months in advance of start date
Plan the logistics and details of your residency through meetings with Ocean Discovery staff
4 months in advance of start date until residency begins
5. Orientation and Training
Receive an orientation and training for your residency
1 month in advance of start date
Provide scientific mentorship during your residency
Provide feedback on your experience upon completion
At end of residency
The application process for the Living Lab Scientist-in-Residence position is competitive. A limited number of residencies are available each year and applications will be closed once all open residencies are filled.
Preference is given to candidates who help the Scientist-in-Residence program achieve a holistic diversity of gender, ethnicity, and different science, conservation, and environmental fields.
If you have questions or would like additional information about the Scientist-in-Residence program, please contact Joel Barkan at JBarkan@oceandi.org.