2013 winner: Dr. Steve Sulkin
Director, Shannon Point Marine Center
Dr. Steve Sulkin served as Director of Western’s Shannon Point Marine Center (SPMC) in Anacortes for 28 years prior to his retirement this summer. During that time, he worked tirelessly to further diversity at Western and in the science community, both programmatically and personally. Steve’s efforts have profoundly influenced the career tracks of students from diverse ethnic groups underrepresented in the sciences. Western students, faculty, and staff have also benefitted from the cultural and educational diversity produced by his program.
In 1985, during his first year at Western, Steve developed the Minorities in Marine Science Undergraduate Program (MIMSUP) through an unsolicited proposal to the National Science Foundation (NSF). After an initial three-year trial program, NSF has renewed this grant four times, each for five years, enabling Steve to sustain this program introducing Native American, Alaskan Native, African American, Latino/Hispanic, and Pacific Islander students to the possibility of pursuing careers in the marine sciences. No other NSF-supported diversity program can claim this longevity or level of support.
In addition to publishing papers and presenting, MIMSUP participants teach marine science in local elementary schools, giving young students the opportunity to learn science from diverse role models. The majority of MIMSUP alumni now work in science-related fields and are enthusiastic ambassadors for SPMC and WWU. To date, 60% percent of program alumni have pursued advanced degrees.
Recognizing Steve’s success, in 2002 he was invited to the White House to receive, for SPMC and Western, a Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. SPMC and Western’s reputation as a national leader in recruiting and retaining diverse marine science students is rooted in Steve’s deep and lasting work. Congratulations to Steve for being recognized with the Diversity Achievement Award, and thank you for your years of inclusive leadership at Western.