Inclusive Excellence in Research and Creativity: Diversifying the Field of Ornithology
Dr. Dai Shizuka champions promoting human connection and inclusivity in the Department of Ornithology and across campus. Recently awarded the National Science Foundation Bio Leaps grant, Dai and his team are collectively learning how inclusivity “makes the university, or ornithological studies or any institution stronger.” With the grant, the team is studying how human connections foster a sense of belonging and encourage the pursuit of research.
Dai and the department believe in the power of inclusivity. “We can’t achieve excellence without promoting everyone’s excellence.”
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[00:00:05.208]I can't fully explain it,
[00:00:07.083]but, people around the world are fascinated by birds.
[00:00:10.916]And you can see that from the stories people tell
[00:00:14.416]about the birds around them
[00:00:15.958]and their place in the world.
[00:00:17.750]Over the pandemic, it coincided
[00:00:19.916]with a lot of social movements
[00:00:23.958]about disparities among people and their experiences.
[00:00:27.791]And one of those was about actually, birds.
[00:00:31.666]So we recently got a grant
[00:00:33.041]through the National Science Foundation's program
[00:00:37.041]So this is a grant designed
[00:00:38.625]to harness the unique position of professional societies
[00:00:41.791]in promoting inclusion.
[00:00:43.916]And so, we're studying various aspects
[00:00:46.500]of how having connections
[00:00:48.583]with people like themselves fosters a sense of belonging,
[00:00:52.833]how that can encourage them to pursue the love of research.
[00:00:58.166](Dr. Shizuka murmuring)
[00:01:00.250]So I'm really passionate about getting more people,
[00:01:04.541]specifically women of color, into STEM
[00:01:06.958]and science and field research.
[00:01:09.375]And I feel like birds were just
[00:01:11.250]that common thread of like, "everybody sees birds,
[00:01:14.875]everybody knows what birds are."
[00:01:16.916]So I feel like it's a really good gateway in a sense,
[00:01:20.000]to get people into just being outside
[00:01:22.666]and learning more about wildlife.
[00:01:24.291]And hopefully, it can spark some interest
[00:01:27.333]in some people to go more into STEM
[00:01:29.791]and science and research.
[00:01:31.208]Like here, where it's flat in the terrain,
[00:01:34.291]we don't have a (indistinct) of the ones.
[00:01:36.875]And out in the forest, back here,
[00:01:38.583]we study kind of how the social lives
[00:01:41.958]of birds help them survive these cold Nebraska winters.
[00:01:47.291]They form these really cool things
[00:01:48.666]called mixed-species flocks,
[00:01:50.333]social connections play a big part in animals' lives,
[00:01:54.125]not just humans.
[00:01:55.125]Do you have an extra?
[00:01:56.208]Yeah, we got-
You got another set?
[00:01:57.750]We should have two sets.
[00:02:00.916]I actually owe a lot of my ideas
[00:02:04.541]and my thoughts about inclusion
[00:02:06.000]to the connections I've made at the university.
[00:02:09.083]By including everybody,
[00:02:11.291]it makes the university or ornithological societies
[00:02:16.375]or any institution, stronger.
[00:02:18.500]We can't really achieve excellence
[00:02:19.958]without promoting everyone's excellence, I guess.
[00:02:23.583]And to do that, everyone has to buy in
[00:02:26.583]and feel like they belong.
[00:02:28.541]A lot of what we talk about
[00:02:29.791]in ornithology now is this looming sense
[00:02:32.708]that we are losing the diversity of birds.
[00:02:35.500]And this is an all-hands-on-deck situation.
[00:02:38.208]And we can't afford to not include anyone that's got
[00:02:42.833]that passion and that interest in studying nature
[00:02:46.875]and conserving our natural legacy.
[00:02:49.708]And so, from that perspective,
[00:02:52.458]I think it's an urgent need
[00:02:55.250]to really include everyone so that we can solve some
[00:02:58.791]of these global problems.
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