CSEE BIPOC Spotlight Library Microgrants

One barrier to entry of underrepresented minorities, including BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour), into STEM is the shortage of visible models.  CSEE can help by drawing attention to BIPOC ecologists and evolutionary biologists.  This project will build a library of short videos by both emerging and established BIPOC scientists, and make that library available to university and K-12 instructors, youth groups, etc. across Canada.  By shining a spotlight on BIPOC models – who are underrepresented, but not absent – the library will create opportunities to support better representation in future.  It will also help our community diversify its teaching, its seminar series, and so on.  The program will also address another barrier to increasing BIPOC participation in science, which is financial; the library microgrants will provide direct remuneration plus no-cost membership and conference registration.

The microgrants

CSEE offers a microgrant to ecologists or evolutionary biologists who identify as BIPOC (up to the program’s budget limit).  A microgrant consists of $200 cash a free 2-year membership in the Society, and reimbursement of registration fees for one CSEE annual meeting within the 2 years following the award.

Microgrant recipients are asked to make two short videos of themselves:

  • One (2-3 min) video of them talking about who they are; what their current position is; how they got interested in E&E or their study system and (optionally) something about the path they’ve taken to their current position; and mentioning one exciting question in E&E they’d like to answer in their career.
  • The other (6-10 min) would include the same elements PLUS one question in E&E (big or small) that the recipient has answered, or is answering, in their work (not a Powerpoint, simply video of them).

The two videos constitute different resources for the community. The shorter videos will be appropriate for use at any level, and stress membership in the scientific community.  Because they are short, they will lend themselves well to being shown in combination.  The longer videos will be more appropriate for use in classes at the high school or postsecondary level, and demonstrate in addition contributions to knowledge.  It is perfectly appropriate for the content of an applicant’s shorter video to be reprised in the longer one – that is, we expect the two videos to overlap considerably.

Both videos should be pitched to a non-specialist audience – even if they are used in postsecondary ecology courses, a non-specialist pitch will make them accessible to all students. The editorial committee will supply advice on making a video like this (e.g. equipment, things to consider before/during filming, minor editing) and is happy to provide feedback or advice on proposed content, etc.  Applicants will also be connected with each other, when possible, so they can swap tips and experience.

All the videos will be shared on CSEE social media, hosted on the CSEE Youtube and made available on our web site for use in classes and presentations by professors, high-school teachers, outreach groups like Pint of Science, Let’s Talk Science, and youth groups like Scouting, etc.  CSEE will actively reach out to these organizations to publicize the video library.

Applying for a microgrant

Applicants should send a very brief proposal (no more than 200 words, describing very briefly the videos’ intended content) to the Chair of the Editorial Committee, peter.soroye@gmail.com.

Applicants should be members of CSEE, or non-members of CSEE who are Canadian or working or studying at a Canadian employer or institution.  Applicants are welcome from any career stage, but CSEE will seek to balance awardees between faculty, industry professionals, and students.  Should senior applicants wish to participate while waiving financial compensation, CSEE will use the budget room to recruit more early-career participants.

Editorial committee

CSEE Council will establish a committee of 3 Society members, at least 2 of them BIPOC, to provide guidance and insure that submissions align with the goals of the project.  It will report to the chair of the Awards Committee.  This is the same committee that will handle Resources Library submissions (see below).  BIPOC members of the editorial committee who do not serve on CSEE Council will receive a stipend for their service.


CSEE has budgeted $3000 in 2020 for this initiative (but we envision the project continuing into future years).  The cash payment portion of the microgrant is crucial, because it is unfair to ask BIPOC to do unpaid work to fix a problem that isn’t of their making. The cash amount is intended to represent fair market pay for the labour involved.