Mentorship During a Pandemic: Transitions from Lab and Sea to Virtual

The summer of 2020 was supposed to be one of exploration, discovery, and mentorship for students in the geosciences.

But then the pandemic happened.

Laboratories shuttered their doors; research vessels stayed docked.

Many of the mentorship programs students applied to are now navigating the still-uncharted waters of the “new normal” and working to provide quality, albeit remote, mentorship.

STEMSEAS—short for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Student Experiences Aboard Ships—is one such program.

Run out of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, the National Science Foundation–funded initiative has been a gateway for more than 125 students to experience ocean science up close every summer since 2016. In a normal year, STEMSEAS gives undergraduates the opportunity to spend 6–10 days aboard a U.S. Academic Research Fleet research vessel with experienced faculty mentors as the ship makes transits between expeditions.

“Going to sea is really quite life changing the first time one

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