05. 24. 2023

Focus on Inclusive Science Communication

Spark Volume III Cover


The Community of Scholars Program is excited to announce the third issue and special edition of SPARK on Inclusive Science Communication! 

The SPARK eZine was created to generate conversations about the scholarship of graduate researchers who identify as Black, Indigenous, and/or people of color. Each of the research stories, shared in this issue, stimulates new ways of making academic scholarship relevant to our communities and beyond. Collectively, these research stories are animated by the multifaceted ways COSP Scholars are transforming what scholarship looks like, how knowledge is produced, and for whom scholarship is directed.

Initiated by the COSP Writing Initiative in 2020 and led by the SPARK Editorial Board, SPARK is committed to developing writers through a collaborative approach to publishing research. The editorial process is intent on not reproducing the systemic violence(s) often encountered by writers who come from underrepresented identities in predominantly white academic institutions. The SPARK Editorial Board holds a fierce respect for the writers’ intentions, and the integrity of ideas, experiences, and creative form each writer brings to the community. 

What’s in This Issue

Tiffany LaShae’s piece, Black soilship, is a guidebook that tells a story of Farmer Tiffany’s relationship with the soil and the rich cultural and historical geography of Black farmers in the Black Belt of the United States. Stopping at eight different farms across the Black Belt, the guidebook brings together a constellation of original video interviews with Black farmers. Lashae’s research celebrates the histories and relationships that Black farmers have to their land, the legacies of Black agricultural practices and knowledge passed down from generations, and the resilience of Black farmers to steward their land, in spite of the legacies of slavery and US government policies that sought to take away land from them.   

In Bare your teeth: How watching monkeys eat can teach us about our evolutionary origins and teach us about ourselves, Risa Luther brings together different strands of her fieldwork experience as a biological anthropologist. Traveling to a national park in Uganda, Luther provides a closeup look at a day-in-the-life in the rainforest following monkeys, to creating teeth molds of monkeys in national museums in order to better understand how our earliest ancestors lived. Bringing humor and warmth throughout her piece, Luther offers pivotal moments that led her on her journey to graduate school and ways her intersectional identities show up in the spaces she moves through. 

Sylvia Klein’s work, The STING of colonization, addresses the ways in which histories of colonization inform public health as a field, while making visible the ways the legacies of colonization continue to impact present global health systems. As a virologist studying the dengue virus, Klein reflects on the ethics of their research and what a decolonized practice might look like, all while creatively engaging with the conventions of the scientific paper. 

Antavia Parades-Beaulieu’s endnoted essay, Scary White Men, offers an analysis and personal reflection on a poem written by a Native American youth who participated in a STEM internship program, taught by Parades-Beaulieu at Migizi, a non-profit serving Native and Indigenous youth in the Twin Cities Metro area. Written in response to a white male scientist being invited to their space, the poem is visceral and honest. Committed to creating community spaces where Native youth can thrive and feel safe in STEM, Parades-Beaulieu reflects on the ways her student’s poem resonates with her own experience as a Native woman in STEM as well as calls attention to a continued history of violence against Native peoples, systemic inequities in education, generational trauma, all while pointing out the humor laced throughout. 

In Kim’s declassified POC grad school survival guide, Kimberly Lopez-Zepeda illustrates, in color, the different spheres she navigates between school, languages, work, and home. Drawing from her lived experiences as a Latina, first-generation college student, moving from a hispanic serving institution to predominantly white institutions, Lopez-Zepeda calls out the ways code meshing has helped her thrive holistically as a graduate student in the material sciences while also providing solid advice for early stage graduate scientists to succeed in graduate school. 

Finally, in Ming-Ching Liang’s piece, On whose shoulders: Towards a mindful citational practice, Liang calls attention to the ways in which academic citational practices contribute to what and whose knowledge counts as legitimate knowledge, especially related to attribution and limitations placed on knowledge production from communities and underrepresented voices. Ending with a set of recommendations, Liang asks readers to consider being proactive in reflecting on their own citational practices. 

We hope you enjoy this issue! 

Learn more about the SPARK eZine >