PANEL: Working across discipline and difference to address complex coastal issues

Tuesday, November 14 | 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM PT     
Organizers:  Dr. Kristy Lewis and Jenni Schmitt

GOAL: Demystify transdisciplinary marine research, emphasize the importance of diverse perspectives, which includes community and tribal involvement from problem identification to solutioning. 

We invite you to join us for a panel discussion on "Working across discipline and difference to address complex coastal issues," which aims to demystify transdisciplinary research and emphasize the importance of incorporating diverse perspectives, including those from communities and Tribes.

Transdisciplinary research is an approach that aims to democratize knowledge across academic and non-academic stakeholders to effectively implement solutions to complex coastal topics. However, the United States is behind in applying this approach to solve complicated ocean and coastal related challenges, such as those arising from climate change. Significant community engagement is crucial in transdisciplinary research, where communities are involved in problem identification and remain active members of the research team throughout the duration of a project to shape socially relevant research.

Our distinguished panelists will include leading researchers, coastal practitioners, community members, and Tribal representatives who will share their experiences and insights on the benefits and challenges of working across discipline and difference. They will highlight successful examples of working jointly with collaborators from other fields of study and discuss benefits and opportunities for impactful community and Tribal involvement in coastal research and problem-solving. The insights and experiences shared by our panelists will be valuable to researchers, community members, and decision-makers interested in collaborative processes and incorporating diverse perspectives into their work.

Join us for this important panel discussion and learn how transdisciplinary research and meaningful community engagement can help address challenges that affect a variety of ecosystems and the social and economic systems that they support. We look forward to seeing you there!


 Dr. Kristy Lewis is a biological oceanographer in the National Center for Integrated Coastal Research at the University of Central Florida. She uses geospatial and ecosystem modeling approaches to investigate how global change impacts marine food webs and the coastal communities who live there. Her lab approaches these climate-driven challenges through a transdisciplinary oceanography lens. By its very nature, transdisciplinary science focuses on ecosystem resilience and environmental justice collectively with Indigenous groups, governmental agencies, and other local community members. She works across discipline and difference with physical, chemical, and geological oceanographers as well as social scientists, hazard geographers, natural resource economists, and archaeologists to accelerate innovation to address our most pressing climate- and human-driven disturbances on our coasts. Using action science and the co-production of knowledge as a framework, she employs advanced modeling approaches, which integrate long-term ecological, remotely sensed, community-based participatory, economic, and environmental data. This combined approach allows her to act as a boundary spanner across disparate types of data and disciplines to address our most complex coastal challenges. In all her research, she aims to understand the mechanisms behind changes seen in coastal systems, develop methodologies to advance scientific theory and adaptively manage ecosystems, and then ground the truth of those methods by validating them with local ecological knowledge and observations from field surveys and experiments. In every aspect of her research, she is driven by the following question: how can she create a culture of mentorship and inclusion to train a diverse cohort of researchers who have historically been underrepresented and excluded?

Jenni Schmitt is the Watershed Monitoring Coordinator at the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, on the southern Oregon coast. Her research interests include understanding wetland ecosystems with a focus on how climate change influences habitats and species. Jenni also organizes and chairs the Partnership for Coastal Watersheds, a community stakeholder group whose members are currently working together collaboratively to guide improved estuary management.