This seminar series aims to provide professional development for students, faculty, and staff at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography around the topics of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in the ocean sciences. We hope to encourage and cultivate conversations both from a societal collective and within our own respective fields to strengthen our community and the work that we do.

Please Register


Oct. 24: Coastal Access

Cassius Spears Jr.

Access to the shoreline is a topic that has gained more prominence in Rhode in recent years, but the discussion often does not include aspects such as Indigenous Rights. Cassius Spears, Jr. will discuss barriers to the Narragansett Indian Tribe, which have historically used the shore for summer encampments.

“It’s important for us, as a tribe, to re-establish those relationships, where they have been severed,” he said during a town council meeting in Narragansett.

Time: 1:30-2:30 p.m.
Location: CI Large Conference Room
Speaker: Cassius Spears Jr., Narragansett Indian Tribe

Bio: Cassius Spears, Jr. is the First Councilman for the Narragansett Indian Tribe of Rhode Island and is passionate about land stewardship, conservation, and traditional foodways in Rhode Island. He graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 2010 with a B.S. in Environmental Management and Science. He is the Narragansett Indian Tribal delegate for the National Congress of American Indians and has served on the Board of Director for the United Southern and Eastern Tribes since 2015. Cassius works for the Natural Resource Conservation Service as a District Conservationist.


Nov. 2: Decolonizing Curriculum

Kelton McMahon

This seminar will discuss the value and application of decolonising STEM curricula. This includes understanding the history of colonialism and bias in our disciplines, how that shapes the voices and concepts in science that get heard, and how that frames our worldviews. Dr. Kelton McMahon will discuss mechanisms to create spaces and resources for a dialogue among all members of our educational community on how to imagine and envision all cultures and knowledge systems in our curricula.

Time: 1:30-3 p.m.
Location: Coastal Institute Hazards Room
Speaker: Dr. Kelton McMahon (He/Him), associate professor of oceanography

Bio: Dr. Kelton McMahon (He/Him) is an associate professor at URI-GSO. His lab studies ocean food web dynamics, animal movement ecology, and biogeochemical cycling. His group works at the intersection of fundamental and applied research to address current and emerging ocean challenges related to climate and human-environment interactions.


Nov. 30: Microaggressions

Princess Metuge (left) and Michelle Fontes

Microaggressions are defined as the everyday, subtle, intentional — and oftentimes unintentional — interactions or behaviors that communicate some sort of bias toward historically marginalized groups. The difference between microaggressions and overt discrimination or macroaggressions, is that people who commit microaggressions might not even be aware of them. Speakers Princess Metuge and Michelle Fontes will discuss recognizing, understanding, and addressing microaggressions.

Time: 1:30-3 p.m.
Location: Mosby
Speaker: Princess Metuge & Michelle Fontes

Princess Metuge: Asst. Dean, Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion, URI Graduate School of Oceanography. Her goal is to foster JEDI initiatives at GSO, ensuring a vibrant and robust social and cultural climate built on mutual understanding, respect, acceptance and safety for all, while embracing the diversity of our beliefs, ideas, views, identities and culture.

Michelle Fontes: URI Interim Assistant Vice President for Community Equity and Diversity. She was born and raised in RI, and graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a B.A. in Communication Studies. She has worked in both the corporate and non-profit fields for over 10 years. During that time, she attended graduate school at URI and received her M.A. in the Adult Education in 2011.


Dec. 14: Environmental Justice & Water Research

Michaela Cashman (left), Kate Mulvaney (center), Kaytee Canfield

To date, most of the existing environmental justice research has been focused on air pollution and hazardous facilities. There is an increasing recognition of a need to also focus on the intersection between environmental justice and water. We will discuss some of the existing environmental justice and water research and identify some of the best practices for moving forward.

Time: 1:30-2:30 p.m.
Location: Coastal Institute Hazards Room
Speakers: Dr. Kate Mulvaney, Dr. Michaela Cashman, Dr. Kaytee Canfield

Dr. Kate Mulvaney (she/her) is a social scientist with the U.S. EPA’s Atlantic Coastal Environmental Sciences Division in Narragansett. Her research focuses on the connections between humans and water.

Dr. Michaela Cashman is a biologist with the US EPA Atlantic Coastal Environmental Sciences Division (ACESD) in Narragansett, RI. Her research research focuses on contaminants of emerging concern, with an emphasis on man-made chemicals in marine environments.

Dr. Kaytee Canfield (she/her) is a postdoctoral translational scientist at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Atlantic Coastal Environmental Sciences Division. She is a scholar-practitioner focused on inclusion and resilience of environmental science communication efforts, especially related to place-based challenges.