Supporting Diversity

The Toolik Field Station management and staff stand with all those who are affected by racial and social discrimination. We hear you. We are listening and reflecting to learn more about how we, as a community, can better support Alaska Native people, people of color, and all those who are affected by injustices. We are committed to creating a more open, inclusive, and diverse community within Toolik Field Station. We know this is just the beginning and there is much more work to be done. Moving forward we pledge:

  1. To recognize and challenge statements and constructs inside and outside of the Toolik Community that are demeaning, devaluing, or degrading.
  2. To make greater efforts to seek out and reach out to BIPOC communities to make them aware of our student internships, TUNDRA research award, and employment opportunities.
  3. To provide educational materials for Toolik staff and users to educate themselves on and challenge implicit biases that may be impacting the workplace. We want to share these resources to facilitate growth and foster a community of alliance.

Actions to Build Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Toolik

To ease the financial burden of acquiring gear for the field, Toolik Field Station opened a community gear closet in 2023. All station residents can borrow field clothing and gear at no cost for as long as they need them during their stay at Toolik. The closet is located in the east end of the Science Workshop.

Gear inventory:
  • Rain jackets & pants (XS - XL)
  • Lightweight winter jackets (S - L)
  • Fleece jackets (S - L)
  • Field & hiking pants (M - XXL)
  • Field shirts (XS - XL)
  • Bugshirts & head nets (S-XL)
  • Fleece buffs
  • Gloves (M-XL)
  • Winter hats
  • Rubber boots (varied sizes)
  • Hip & chestwaders (varied sizes)
  • Wading boots (varied sizes)
  • Backpack
  • Framepacks
  • Sleeping bags
  • Tarps
  • Camping cookware
Thank you to Steering Committee student representatives, Ruby An and Brandon Yokeley, for leading the initiative and to the many community members and projects who have donated items to the closet. This closet was supported with a microgrant from the National Science Foundation Polar Science Early Career Community Office.
  • In 2023, our Maintenance Department renovated an old building into a reservable, private space that residents can use for prayer, meditation, telehealth appointments, and other activities to boost mental health & well-being.
  • We updated our sauna operations to 1) explicitly state that transgender, genderqueer, and Two Spirit residents can use whichever sauna hours they feel most comfortable attending, 3) prohibit the use of alcohol on the sauna premises to reduce risk in a vulnerable space, and 3) expand gendered hours to include a space for transgender, genderqueer, and gender non-conforming residents in addition to the long-standing men's, women's, and open hours.
  • Beginning in 2022, we co-hosted virtual pre-field orientation sessions with the Arctic LTER DEI Committee. These provided an overview of what to expect during the field season at Toolik for those unfamiliar with the station.
  • We expanded our Code of Conduct to explicitly prohibit repeated microaggressions and updated the associated training to include more information on discrimination, wellbeing, the reporting process, and bystander intervention.
  • In 2021, our Environmental Data Center established an Indigenous Authors book collection, featuring novels, nonfiction, and reference books written by Alaska Native and other Indigenous authors. The collection is located in the staff office in the Dining Hall and available for anyone to use.
  • We hired a communication & DEI manager to coordinate initiatives that improve DEI at the station.
  • We created the Toolik Opportunities Board, where we and others can post open job and research positions.
  • We participated in the National Science Foundation Unlearning Racism in the Geosciences program.
  • In 2020, we established our Tundra Award, a donation-based program that awards students and early-career researchers with up to 10 days at the station to conduct an independent research project. Applicants from marginalized backgrounds are encouraged to apply. Learn more about the Tundra Award on its webpage.
Ongoing efforts
  • All staff and residents are required to take our Code of Conduct & Sexual Misconduct Policy training before arriving to the station.
  • All station staff are required to take an annual Title IX training through the University of Alaska.
  • Some staff are trained by UAF in Mental Health First Aid, QPR Suicide Prevention, and other programs from the UAF Nanook Diversity and Action Center.
  • We host UAF GreenDot trainers during the summer season to provide training in bystander intervention to interested station residents (paused due to COVID).
We coordinate and collaborate with several groups to ensure we are following best practices in supporting a diverse, equitable, and inclusive field station, including:
  • UAF Office of Rights, Compliance and Accountability
  • UAF Nanook Prevention and Empowerment Network & other DEI professionals
  • UAF Institute of Arctic Biology JEDI Committee
  • Arctic Long-Term Ecological Research DEI Committee
  • Organization of Biological Field Stations IDEA+ Committee
  • Long-Term Ecological Research Network Office Diversity & Inclusion working group
To ensure our efforts towards building DEI at the station are effective, we will track changes in the demographic groups represented within Toolik residents and their perceived cultural climate via an annual end-of-summer survey. The survey is optional for all residents and staff.

The survey was first distributed in 2023 after receiving approval from UAF's Institutional Review Board (2053581-1). A full report will be distributed to our community in 2024.

Contact our communication & DEI manager Haley Dunleavy at or 907-474-6407 to get involved with supporting diversity at Toolik Field Station.