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Black Girls Dive Foundation Launches Program in Partnership with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Black Girls Dive Scholars (Black Girls Dive Foundation scholars will spend 10 weeks this summer working alongside WHOI researchers. (Photo by: Gwyneth Packard, ©Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

June 28, 2024

Woods Hole, Mass. - Black Girls Dive Foundation (BGDF) has launched its BGD flagship internship, IMPETUS (Improving Minority Participation in Education and Training in the Underwater Sciences), in collaboration with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). This initiative is funded through the Office of Naval Research, WHOI, and the Simons Foundation, and is designed to provide young women with the opportunity to explore Marine Science career pathways and gain essential knowledge and skills in marine sciences.

Three BGDF scholars will participate in the BGD IMPETUS-Internship at WHOI. This paid, 10-week summer program provides an opportunity for BGD Scholars to engage in cutting-edge research alongside some of the world's leading scientists in the field of Oceanography.

Meet Our Scholars

Ms. Skye Garrett, a senior from Coastal Carolina University, will work alongside WHOI’s Dr. Michelle Shero in the Shero Lab. Skye's work will focus on marine mammal physiology and ecology to provide insight into the complex interactions between marine organisms and their environments.

Symantha Sanders, a junior from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), will work in the laboratory of WHOI’s Dr. Ann Cohen. Symantha will engage in pioneering research on coral reef ecosystems, contributing to our understanding of these vital marine habitats and the impacts of climate change.

Violet Smith, a junior at Coastal Carolina University, will work alongside WHOI’s Mr. John Reine from the Ocean Observatories Initiative. Violet will help maintain oceanographic instruments, which enhance our ability to monitor and interpret data critical for understanding ocean processes.

The three BGDF scholars take a tour of the R/V Revelle. R/V Revelle is operated by Scripps Institution of Oceanography, but is making use of WHOI's dock through early 2025. (Photo by: Gwyneth Packard, ©Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

The Significance of Internships for Women of Color in Marine Science

The IMPETUS initiative addresses the critical need for diversity and inclusion in the marine sciences. Historically, minority groups, particularly women of color, have been underrepresented in STEM fields. Internships like those offered by IMPETUS are crucial in bridging this gap. They provide minority women with hands-on experience, mentorship, and professional networking opportunities, which are essential for career advancement in the sciences.

"Our goal is not only to expose our scholars to the wonders of marine science but also to empower them with the confidence and skills needed to pursue successful careers in this field," said BGDF Chief Executive Officer, and WHOI Corporation Member, Dr. Nevada Winrow. "By collaborating with leading institutions like WHOI, we are ensuring that our scholars receive the highest quality training and mentorship available."

The partnership with WHOI underscores the commitment of both organizations to fostering a more inclusive scientific community. Dr. Peter de Menocal, President and Director of WHOI, expressed his enthusiasm for the initiative, stating, “We’re thrilled to welcome Skye, Symantha, and Violet to WHOI as our first cohort of IMPETUS scholars. Working alongside our remarkable staff at the world’s leading independent ocean research and education institution, these young women represent the next and more diverse generation of ocean leaders."


About Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) is a private, non-profit organization on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, dedicated to marine research, engineering, and higher education. Established in 1930, its mission is to understand the ocean and its interactions with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate an understanding of the ocean’s role in the changing global environment. WHOI’s pioneering discoveries stem from an ideal combination of science and engineering—one that has made it one of the most trusted and technically advanced leaders in fundamental and applied ocean research and exploration anywhere. WHOI is known for its multidisciplinary approach, superior ship operations, and unparalleled deep-sea robotics capabilities. We play a leading role in ocean observation and operate the most extensive suite of ocean data-gathering platforms in the world. Top scientists, engineers, and students collaborate on more than 800 concurrent projects worldwide—both above and below the waves—pushing the boundaries of knowledge to inform people and policies for a healthier planet. Learn more at