Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota, Fla., announced the appointment of Amanda Felix to the position of diversity and inclusion advisor to the president and chief operating officer. This newly established position builds upon Mote’s national leadership initiatives to increase the participation of underrepresented minorities in marine research and aquarium science.
In accepting this appointment, Felix will also be able to continue her research as a Mote Aquarium Biologist III while she coordinates and collaborates with Mote’s ongoing National Science Foundation Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation: Marine Science Laboratory Alliance Center of Excellence (MarSci-LACE) and related programs.
Felix began as a Mote intern in 2014 and became a full-time staff member the following year.
“As a former Mote Aquarium intern, I’m excited for the opportunity to improve the intern experience and support for future students, to help address diversity and inclusion barriers, and to support Mote’s institutional development and growth,” said Felix.
Felix will serve as a liaison for the president and chief executive with Mote’s internship programs and other related diversity and inclusion programming. She will also be responsible for developing, managing, recruiting for, and expanding such programs to increase underrepresented minority participation in the Aquarium population of undergraduate interns, staff, and volunteers through experiential learning and training opportunities.
“Amanda is the ideal person for this newly established position since she has so much experience being not only a dedicated Mote staff member, guiding and overseeing interns, but was also an intern herself,” said President and Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Michael P. Crosby. “As Mote continues into our next phase of growth with the new Mote Science Education Aquarium, we’re ensuring that our ‘Ocean for All’ commitment to increased access to marine science and technology for everyone in our communities is infused at all levels of our organization.”
Many existing obstacles, including financial barriers, can hinder the potential for racial and socioeconomic diversity in the marine science field. By securing more continuous and substantial funding for the Aquarium Sciences REU program, Mote will provide more resources such as intensive mentorship, skill workshops, and financial support to participants and expand the program as a whole.
“One of my missions with this role is to increase underrepresented minority participation and retention at Mote Aquarium, based on the very successful Mote National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) and MarSci-LACE models,” said Felix.
According to Felix, being able to continue her current role as an aquarium husbandry scientist is incredibly appealing, “I’m absolutely thrilled to serve Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in this new role, and side by side with my ongoing commitment and passion as a Mote animal care scientist.” Felix cares for several fish and invertebrate aquarium exhibits and oversees the Aquarium Conservation Laboratory, where she breeds various fish and crustaceans.
Additionally, she will continue to be involved in professional associations, such as Minorities in Aquarium and Zoo Sciences, the Association of Minority Zoo and Aquarium Professionals, and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, where she is an active contributor and member of the AZA Diversity Committee. Felix will also work with other Mote staff to prepare grant proposals for funding support of the Aquarium Sciences REU program.
AZA has recently emphasized diversity and inclusion as a priority in organizational and institutional development. “Over time, I hope to see an industry-wide transition toward more paid zoo and aquarium internship opportunities and greater representation and retention of diverse voices at the staff and leadership level of these institutions,” said Felix.
Photo Credit: © Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium
Edited by Sarah Gilsoul, a writer and communications program assistant at AZA.
Back to All Stories