2024 CAPS Symposia June 6

Symposia Details:

Thursday, June 6th at 12:30 EDT (UTC -4)

Cultivating equitable partnerships

Logo for the 2024 Conference for Advancing Participatory Sciences

Partnerships are central to the success of most projects, and offer great opportunities to share knowledge and reach new audiences. However, resources, influence, and funding are often centralized in large institutions, creating power imbalances between project partners that can disrupt good intentions. Speakers in this session will share best practices and lessons learned from cultivating equitable partnerships that expand the reach and impact of participatory science projects.

The 2024 Conference for Advancing Participatory Sciences (CAPS 2024) will feature multiple speakers on this topic across two concurrent symposia, addressing the following questions:

Both virtual sessions occur on Thursday, June 6th, at 12:30 pm EDT (UTC -4) and will be open to all CAPS 2024 attendees. 

Participatory Science Conference 2024 Symposia poster

Thursday symposia session A:

How can institutions build equity into community research partnerships?

Many participatory science projects aim to understand and address global-scale and locally impactful problems such as biodiversity loss, human health, or the impacts of climate change. Community-based organizations are critical partners, experts, and leaders, but the structures of universities and other large institutions privilege the perspectives of researchers when it comes to who makes decisions, how funds are distributed, and what outcomes are prioritized. 

Speakers in this panel will discuss strategies for building equitable partnerships between academic institutions and community organizations in different contexts, including public health and aquatic species monitoring, as well as perspectives on strengthening research for impact across a university system.


Dani is the Research Manager at the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network. As the research manager, she develops relationships with members of environmental justice communities and learns about their concerns. She collaborates with community members to identify ways that data may be able to support their advocacy needs and identifies existing datasets or academic researchers who may be able to help collect new data to address community research needs. Ultimately, she and her colleagues seek to help increase capacity for environmental justice communities to advocate for solutions and obtain just transitions.

Susan Dixon Renoe is the Associate Vice Chancellor for Research Development & Strategic Partnerships at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. She is also Executive Director of the Center for Advancing Research Impact in Society, and is involved in multiple boards and committees assessing the impact and equity of research. Additionally, she has taught science communication to undergraduate and graduate students.

Paige Castro-Reyes is the deputy director of Community-Campus Partnerships for Health (CCPH), a nonprofit that promotes health equity and social justice through partnerships between communities and academic institutions. Castro-Reyes has managed multiple projects involving community engagement and culturally responsive research practices with CCPH and brings her unique lived and learned experience as a mestisa CHamoru woman to her work.

Tamra Mendelson is the director of the Interdisciplinary Consortium for Applied Research in the Environment (ICARE) program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. The master’s degree program supports environmental scientists and engineers who are working to increase the diversity of the environmental workforce and engaging local communities in Baltimore. Using an innovative co-mentorship model, the program requires participants to have both academic and community-based advisors, fostering impactful applied research and hands-on education in participatory science.

Thursday symposia session B:

How can partnering with facilitator organizations help projects be more equitable?

Participants often engage with projects via facilitator organizations like museums, schools, and libraries. Facilitator organizations serve an important role in helping projects reach prospective volunteers where they are at, and to provide opportunities for the public to get involved with real research. Building a partnership that meets the needs of both facilitator organizations and research teams doesn’t happen without work. It takes time, effort, and intention to create equitable partnerships that address the priorities of all parties.

Speakers in this session will discuss their experience partnering on projects, the  give and take involved in designing collaborative projects, as well as how to shape projects so they reflect the needs of all involved.


Terris King II is an educational strategist and international kindergarten teacher and founder of Shanghai based Home 2 School and Temple X Schools, a Baltimore-based organization that uses outdoor education in partnership with faith-based institutions to foster personal and educational growth for children. He is a member of the leadership team at Baltimore Ecosystem Study and Co-Founder of the Baltimore Forest School. A leader in educational innovation through culturally responsive pedagogy, thoughtful curriculum, and hybrid learning, King is leveraging quotidian forms of technology and what is left of nature to eliminate disparities in education.

Sam Tayag is the Community Science Program Manager at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. They support deeply collaborative community science focused on environmental justice, Indigenous science and Land Back rematriation. Their prior experience as a nurse and lived experience as an Indigenous parent to a young child inform their current work at the Natural History Museum of L.A. County.

Nicole Colston is Assistant Research Professor of Natural Resource Ecology and Management at Oklahoma State University and Science Communication Specialist at the Oklahoma Water Resources Center. A former NSF Science Engineering and Education for Society (SEES) Fellow, she uses Participatory Action Research (PAR) methods to conduct community-based research about drought resilience in the Great Plains. Her current citizen science projects include the Spotty Rain Campaign (drought education in rural libraries), the Virtual Citizen Science Expo (‘meet a scientist’ events in virtual reality), and the Oklahoma Well Owners Network (free household screenings).