College of Science

Coastal and Marine Ecosystems

Active Societal Participation in Research and Education

ESRI Story Map for Engels et al. 2020
ESRI Story Map for Engels et al. 2020 (Paper is linked to image)
Sumida Farms research in Hawaii

Through funding provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the NSF program Active Societal Participation In Research and Education (ASPIRE) aims to cultivate the next generation of geoscientists. This generation will have the leadership knowledge and skills, scholarship, and material support to reframe and rebrand the geosciences (Atmospheric, Earth, Ocean, and Polar Science) as socially relevant to broaden participation in these fields. They will do so by bridging long-standing 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, which references 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 - the Boundary Spanner - each mobile working group (MWG) will focus on an environmental issue linked to a single community. ASPIRE will support multiple MWGs working across the geographic, ethnographic, and "in practice" community space, as well as across the body of geoscience research and application. The program is a collaborative effort between the following institutions:

  • California State University, Monterey Bay (Lead Institution)
  • University of Maryland, Center for Environmental Science
  • University of Southern California
  • University of Washington

Current Projects

2019-2020 Projects

Project Title: Oceanographic Solutions to Human-Induced Environmental Threats to Seafood Security in Southeast Alaska. Principal Investigators: Dr. Michael Navarro and Dr. Randie Bundy. Lead Institutions: University of Alaska Southeast and University of Washington. Project Term: 2019-2020.

Project Title: Community Enhanced Monitoring and Research of Puerto Rico's Bioluminescent Bays. Principal Investigator: James Pierson. Lead Institution: University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. Project Term: 2019-2020.

Project Title: Using Mobile Working Groups for Community Impact and Prioritization of Water Quality Solutions in the Rock Creek Watershed. Principal Investigator: Dr. Mitchell Pavao-Zuckerman. Lead Institution: University of Maryland, College Park. Project Term: 2019-2020

2018-2019 Projects

Project Title: Los Angeles River Water Quality Monitoring Mobile Working Group. Principal Investigator: Dr. Andres Aguilar. Lead Institution: California State University, Los Angeles. Project Term: 2018-2019.

Project Title: Increasing Environmental Awareness and Citizen Participation in Sioux Nation Tribes of South Dakota. Principal Investigators: Dr. Benjamin Bostick (Lead PI) and Cassie Xu (Co-PI). Lead Institution: Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University. Project Term: 2018-2019.

Project Title: Groundwater sustainability for small farmers of of O'ahu. Principal Investigator: Dr. Jennifer Engels. Lead Institution: University of Hawai'i. Project Term: 2018-2019.

Webinar for 2018-2019 RFP Process

A free webinar on the upcoming request for proposals for ASPIRE working groups was recently held. The webinar, held on May 16th, 2018, covered information as it pertains to developing a competitive proposal for the ASPIRE RFP process, working group outcomes and, provided a venue for prospective applicants to submit questions. Below is a PDF of the webinar. A video recording of the webinar is available and can be requested by emailing the ASPIRE team at

RFP for 2018-2019 ASPIRE Working Groups

We are now accepting proposals from the Geosciences community for working groups that work across the intersections of place based science, Geoscience and efforts to increase diversity in the Geosciences. ASPIRE is funded by an award from the National Science Foundation to Lead Principal Investigator Dr. Corey Garza (CSUMB) and collaborating PIs Drs. Lora Harris(UMCES), Julie Posselt (USC), and Julia Parrish (UW). ASPIRE aims to develop new linkages between the Geosciences and society and train a new generation of Geoscientists that are able to bridge basic Geoscience research with broader societal needs. Proposals will be evaluated by the PI team and awarded according to a variety of metrics that include scientific merit and participation in underrepresented communities, strength of the implementation plan for the working group itself, and a need in this pilot phase to have representation across the Geosciences. Funding is is available to support 6 demonstration working groups selected from proposals. Individual awards will vary from $10,000-$13,000. Up to $2,000 of any single award may be allocated to the working group lead as a stipend. Funding requests above $13,000 will be considered as part of this RFP. Follow the links below to access the full RFP (with proposal directions), budget template and application portal. Application deadlines: July 16 and October 15, 2018. Any U.S. institution eligible to apply for NSF funding is eligible to apply for this competition.

For program details or questions about proposing a working group, contact us at