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How to make paleo research more accessible for disabled scientists, now and in the future
  • Gabriela Serrato Marks
Gabriela Serrato Marks
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Disabled scientists are severely underrepresented in geosciences, including paleo-related fields. In this presentation, I will explain how potential benefits from remote work can help improve access for disabled scientists (broadly defined). Some improvements include fewer barriers due to commuting to work (which contributes to fatigue) or physical access to buildings and labs, reduced stimuli (potentially helpful for learning disabilities and migraines), and more flexible working hours (helpful for a range of disabilities). Although restricted access to labs may change research directions, it’s possible for some computational research to continue. However, there are also new challenges arising from remote work, from social isolation to non-ideal work environments, that may have a disproportionate impact on disabled researchers. The pandemic has also forced some researchers to disclose their health conditions to explain that they are at a high risk for severe illness from COVID-19. I suggest that, even after COVID-19 is resolved, the paleo communities continue to support flexible work options, which could improve the representation of disabled scientists. Furthermore, we can use this period of reduced fieldwork and remote teaching to consider how to improve access for all scientists at field sites, in classrooms, and in labs.