main navigation
my pace

Anne Toomey | PACE UNIVERSITY

News & Events

Sort/Filter

Filter Newsfeed

News Item

Patch featured Dyson Professors Anne Toomey and Monica Palta in "Pace U Researchers Champion Call to Protect Scientific Diversity"

07/01/2020

Patch featured Dyson Professors Anne Toomey and Monica Palta in "Pace U Researchers Champion Call to Protect Scientific Diversity"

International scientists call on leadership to actively support a diversity, equity, and inclusion focus into all COVID-19-recovery efforts

A team of international scientists coordinated by Pace University and the University of Vienna in an article published recently in Nature Ecology & Evolution called for a collective effort by the entire scientific community, especially those in leadership positions, to actively support the retention and diversity of early-career scientists during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The article's authors emphasize the consequences this crisis will have on early-career scientists, especially those from communities historically underrepresented in the fields of environmental sciences, including minorities, women, researchers from the Global South, and persons with disabilities. This is particularly relevant in the current moment, as longstanding racial health and social inequities in the United States lead to worse health outcomes for African Americans and other minority groups during epidemics, placing additional burdens on scientists from these communities as they grapple with additional emotional and financial stress.

"It is important that we keep in mind the life perspective and diversity of scientists," says Bea Maas, PhD, University of Vienna, lead author of the article.

The COVID-19 pandemic poses major challenges for all sectors of society, including scientists faced with abrupt disruptions and redirections of research and higher education in general.

"Coping with the current and long-term consequences of the pandemic for underrepresented communities requires courageous and communal action from the entire scientific community," says co-author Anne Toomey, PhD, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences at Pace University.

The team identifies key actions for scientific workplaces, communities and broader policy to show clearly what can be done to support early-career scientists during and after the crisis.

Read the full Patch article.

News & Events

Sort/Filter

Filter Newsfeed

News Item

Press Release: Pace University Researchers Champion Call to Protect Scientific Diversity

06/30/2020

Press Release: Pace University Researchers Champion Call to Protect Scientific Diversity

International scientists call on the scientific leadership to actively support a diversity, equity, and inclusion focus into all COVID-19-related recovery efforts

NEW YORK, N.Y., June 30, 2020- A team of international scientists coordinated by Pace University and the University of Vienna in an article published recently in Nature Ecology & Evolution called for a collective effort by the entire scientific community, especially those in leadership positions, to actively support the retention and diversity of early-career scientists during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The article’s authors emphasize the consequences this crisis will have on early-career scientists, especially those from communities historically underrepresented in the fields of environmental sciences, including minorities, women, researchers from the Global South, and persons with disabilities. This is particularly relevant in the current moment, as longstanding racial health and social inequities in the United States lead to worse health outcomes for African Americans and other minority groups during epidemics, placing additional burdens on scientists from these communities as they grapple with additional emotional and financial stress.

“It is important that we keep in mind the life perspective and diversity of scientists,” says Bea Maas, PhD, University of Vienna, lead author of the article.

The COVID-19 pandemic poses major challenges for all sectors of society, including scientists faced with abrupt disruptions and redirections of research and higher education in general.

“Coping with the current and long-term consequences of the pandemic for underrepresented communities requires courageous and communal action from the entire scientific community,” says co-author Anne Toomey, PhD, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences at Pace University.

The team identifies key actions for scientific workplaces, communities and broader policy to show clearly what can be done to support early-career scientists during and after the crisis.

“Our collective recovery in the scientific community to this crisis will depend on maintaining and supporting a diverse membership,”says co-author Monica Palta, PhD, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences at Pace University.

The authors emphasize that overcoming the acute and long-term challenges of this pandemic calls for a strong international scientific community that understands that diversity and equity are key factors in promoting healthy, resilient ecosystems as the cornerstones of human health and well-being.

Read the full article here.

Questions should be addressed to the lead author, Bea Maas (beamaas@gmx.at).

About Dyson College

Pace University’s liberal arts college, Dyson College offers more than 50 programs, spanning the arts and humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, and pre-professional programs (including pre-medicine, pre-veterinary, and pre-law), as well as many courses that fulfill core curriculum requirements. The College offers access to numerous opportunities for internships, cooperative education and other hands-on learning experiences that complement in-class learning in preparing graduates for career and graduate/professional education choices.

About Pace University

Pace University has a proud history of preparing its diverse student body for a lifetime of professional success as a result of its unique program that combines rigorous academics and real-world experiences. Pace is ranked the #1 private, four-year college in the nation for upward economic mobility by Harvard University’s Opportunity Insights, evidence of the transformative education the University provides. From its beginnings as an accounting school in 1906, Pace has grown to three campuses, enrolling 13,000 students in bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in more than 150 majors and programs, across a range of disciplines: arts, sciences, business, health care, technology, law, education, and more. The university also has one of the most competitive performing arts programs in the country. Pace has a signature, newly renovated campus in New York City, located in the heart of vibrant Lower Manhattan, next to Wall Street and City Hall, and two campuses in Westchester County, New York: a 200-acre picturesque Pleasantville Campus and a Law School in White Plains. Follow us on Twitter or on our news website: .

News & Events

Sort/Filter

Filter Newsfeed

News Item

Massive Science featured Dyson assistant professor Anne Toomey in "Scientists are producing data without sharing it with people who actually need it"

05/26/2020

Massive Science featured Dyson assistant professor Anne Toomey in "Scientists are producing data without sharing it with people who actually need it"

This study, published by Anne Toomey, assistant professor at Pace University, María Eugenia Copa Alvaro from the Colección Boliviana de Fauna in Bolivia, and colleagues, reveals the disconnect between the potential impacts of a project and who learns about its results. In the last 10 years, 83 percent of the studies conducted in Madidi indicated that their project had definite or potential implications for the area’s management from local to nationwide levels. Yet, the majority of researchers were publishing their results in peer-reviewed academic journals, which are often inaccessible to local (or even national) stakeholders due to “paywalls” and other barriers to access.

Read the full Massive Science article.

News & Events

Sort/Filter

Filter Newsfeed

News Item

"Science Daily" featured Dyson Assistant Professor Anne Toomey in "Applying biodiversity conservation research in practice"

11/13/2019

"Science Daily" featured Dyson Assistant Professor Anne Toomey in "Applying biodiversity conservation research in practice"

The world's population is growing -- and with it the need for natural resources. This calls for consistent action to protect biodiversity. "The rapidly ongoing extinction of numerous animal and plant species threatens the health of our environment, as well as valuable resources and services linked to our well-being," says Bea Maas of the Department of Botany and Biodiversity Research. Despite comprehensive scientific evidence and solutions, there is often a lack of practical implementation. "There is a misconception among many scientists that if enough evidence is generated and put in the hands of policy-makers, the problem will be solved," says co-lead author and co-editor Anne Toomey of Pace University. "But we know from behavioral science that translating research into practice is not quite that simple."

Read the full Science Daily article.

News & Events

Sort/Filter

Filter Newsfeed

News Item

"San Francisco Chronicle" featured Dyson Assistant Professor Anne Toomey's piece "Redefining 'impact' so research can help real people right away, even before becoming a journal article"

05/07/2018

"San Francisco Chronicle" featured Dyson Assistant Professor Anne Toomey's piece "Redefining 'impact' so research can help real people right away, even before becoming a journal article"

Scientists are increasingly expected to produce research with impact that goes beyond the confines of academia. When funding organizations such as the National Science Foundation consider grants to researchers, they ask about “broader impacts.” They want to support science that directly contributes to the “achievement of specific, desired societal outcomes.” It’s not enough for researchers to call it a day, after they publish their results in journal articles read by a handful of colleagues and few, if any, people outside the ivory tower.

Perhaps nowhere is impact of greater importance than in my own fields of ecology and conservation science. Researchers often conduct this work with the explicit goal of contributing to the restoration and long-term survival of the species or ecosystem in question. For instance, research on an endangered plant can help to address the threats facing it.

But scientific impact is a very tricky concept. Science is a process of inquiry; it’s often impossible to know what the outcomes will be at the start. Researchers are asked to imagine potential impacts of their work. And people who live and work in the places where the research is conducted may have different ideas about what impact means.

In collaboration with several Bolivian colleagues, I studied perceptions of research and its impact in a highly biodiverse area in the Bolivian Amazon. We found that researchers – both foreign-based and Bolivian – and people living and working in the area had different hopes and expectations about what ecological research could help them accomplish.

My colleagues and I focused on research conducted in Bolivia’s Madidi National Park and Natural Area for Integrated Management.

Due to its impressive size (approximately 19,000 square kilometers) and diversity of species – including endangered mammals such as the spectacled bear and the giant otter – Madidi attracts large numbers of ecologists and conservation scientists from around the world. The park is also notable for its cultural diversity. Four indigenous territories overlap Madidi, and there are 31 communities located within its boundaries.

Between 2012 and 2015, we carried out interviews and workshops with people living and working in the region, including park guards, indigenous community members and other researchers. We also surveyed scientists who had worked in the area during the previous 10 years. Our goal was to better understand whether they considered their research to have implications for conservation and ecological management, and how and with whom they shared the results of their work.

Read the full article.

News & Events

Sort/Filter

Filter Newsfeed

News Item

"The Associated Press" featured Dyson Professor Anne Toomey's piece in "Redefining ‘impact’ so research can help real people right away, even before becoming a journal article"

05/07/2018

"The Associated Press" featured Dyson Professor Anne Toomey's piece in "Redefining ‘impact’ so research can help real people right away, even before becoming a journal article"

Scientists are increasingly expected to produce research with impact that goes beyond the confines of academia. When funding organizations such as the National Science Foundation consider grants to researchers, they ask about “broader impacts.” They want to support science that directly contributes to the “achievement of specific, desired societal outcomes.” It’s not enough for researchers to call it a day, after they publish their results in journal articles read by a handful of colleagues and few, if any, people outside the ivory tower.

Perhaps nowhere is impact of greater importance than in my own fields of ecology and conservation science. Researchers often conduct this work with the explicit goal of contributing to the restoration and long-term survival of the species or ecosystem in question. For instance, research on an endangered plant can help to address the threats facing it.

But scientific impact is a very tricky concept. Science is a process of inquiry; it’s often impossible to know what the outcomes will be at the start. Researchers are asked to imagine potential impacts of their work. And people who live and work in the places where the research is conducted may have different ideas about what impact means.

In collaboration with several Bolivian colleagues, I studied perceptions of research and its impact in a highly biodiverse area in the Bolivian Amazon. We found that researchers – both foreign-based and Bolivian – and people living and working in the area had different hopes and expectations about what ecological research could help them accomplish.

My colleagues and I focused on research conducted in Bolivia’s Madidi National Park and Natural Area for Integrated Management.

Due to its impressive size (approximately 19,000 square kilometers) and diversity of species – including endangered mammals such as the spectacled bear and the giant otter – Madidi attracts large numbers of ecologists and conservation scientists from around the world. The park is also notable for its cultural diversity. Four indigenous territories overlap Madidi, and there are 31 communities located within its boundaries.

Between 2012 and 2015, we carried out interviews and workshops with people living and working in the region, including park guards, indigenous community members and other researchers. We also surveyed scientists who had worked in the area during the previous 10 years. Our goal was to better understand whether they considered their research to have implications for conservation and ecological management, and how and with whom they shared the results of their work.

Eighty-three percent of researchers queried told us their work had implications for management at community, regional and national levels rather than at the international level. For example, knowing the approximate populations of local primate species can be important for communities who rely on the animals for food and ecotourism.

But the scale of relevance didn’t necessarily dictate how researchers actually disseminated the results of their work. Rather, we found that the strongest predictor of how and with whom a researcher shared their work was whether they were based at a foreign or national institution. Foreign-based researchers had extremely low levels of local, regional or even national dissemination. However, they were more likely than national researchers to publish their findings in the international literature.

This disparity raises concerns about whether foreign-led research in tropical nations such as Bolivia is perpetuating colonial-era legacies of scientific extractivism.

Along with its South American neighbors, Bolivia was subject to centuries of European explorations, during which collectors gathered interesting specimens of flora and fauna to ship back to the country financing the expedition. As late as the 1990s, more than 90 percent of 37,000 zoological specimens from Bolivia were in collections beyond its borders. The expatriation of biological samples has become increasingly restricted under a national political climate of “decolonization.”

But many locals in the Madidi region still expressed to us perceptions that “research is only for the researcher” and “researchers leave nothing behind.” In interviews and workshops, they lamented opportunities missed because they didn’t know about the results of research conducted on their lands. For example, when the park staff learned about previous research done on mercury levels in the Tuichi river that runs through the park, they talked about the importance of sharing this information with local communities for whom fish is a main sources of protein.

Our results suggest that foreign researchers should be wary of a modern form of scientific colonialism – conducting fieldwork in a far-off land and then taking their data and knowledge home with them.

Our study also revealed that in some cases, the question of whether or not research had been disseminated was a matter of perspective. Park offices, indigenous council headquarters and government institutions all held dusty libraries full of articles and books that were in many cases the final products of scientific studies. But very few people had actually read these reports, in part because many were written in English. Also, people in the Madidi region are more accustomed to obtaining knowledge orally rather than through written texts. So finding new ways to communicate across cultural and language barriers is key.

Perhaps one way forward is to think differently about what is meant by impact and when it takes place. Although it’s typically understood to occur after the results have been written up, our research found that the most meaningful forms of impact often took place prior to that.

In ecological and conservation science research, locals are hired as guides or porters, and researchers often stay for days or weeks in communities while they are collecting data. This fieldwork period is filled with potential for knowledge exchange, where both parties can learn from one another. Indigenous communities in the Madidi region are directly dependent on local biodiversity. Not only does it provide food and other resources, but it’s vital for the continuation of their cultures. They possess unique knowledge about the place, and they have a vested interest in ensuring that the local biodiversity will continue to exist for many generations to come.

Rather than impact being addressed at the end of research, societal impacts can be part of the first stages of a study. For example, people living in the region where data is to be collected might have insight into the research questions being investigated; scientists need to build in time and plan ways to ask them. Ecological fieldwork presents many opportunities for knowledge exchange, new ideas and even friendships between different groups. Researchers can take steps to engage more directly with community life, such as by taking a few hours to teach local school kids about their research.

Of course, such activities do not make disseminating the results of research at multiple levels less important. But engaging additional stakeholders earlier in the process could make for a more interested audience when findings are available.

Whether studying hive decline with beekeepers in the United Kingdom or evaluating human-elephant conflicts in India, those affected have the right to know about the results of research. If “broader impacts” are to become more than an afterthought in the research process, non-academics need a bigger voice in the process of determining what those impacts may be.

Read the article.