Mentorship, equity, and research productivity: lessons from a pandemic

Mallika A. Nocco, Bonnie M. McGill, Caitlin Mc Donough MacKenzie, Rebecca K. Tonietto, Joan Dudney, Molly C. Bletz, Talia Young, Sara E. Kuebbing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


The coronavirus pandemic is more fully exposing ubiquitous economic and social inequities that pervade conservation science. In this time of prolonged stress on members of the research community, primary investigators or project leaders (PLs) have a unique opportunity to adapt their programs to jointly create more equitable and productive research environments for their teams. Institutional guidance for PLs pursuing field and laboratory work centers on the physical safety of individuals while in the lab or field, but largely ignores the vast differences in how team members may be experiencing the pandemic. Strains on mental, physical, and emotional health; racial trauma; familial responsibilities; and compulsory productivity resources, such as high-speed internet, quiet work spaces, and support are unequally distributed across team members. The goal of this paper is to summarize the shifting dynamics of leadership and mentorship during the coronavirus pandemic and highlight opportunities for increasing equity in conservation research at the scale of the project team. Here, we (1) describe how the pandemic differentially manifests inequity on project teams, particularly for groups that have been structurally excluded from conservation science, (2) consider equitable career advancement during the coronavirus pandemic, and (3) offer suggestions for PLs to provide mentorship that prioritizes equity and wellbeing during and beyond the pandemic. We aim to support PLs who have power and flexibility in how they manage research, teaching, mentoring, consulting, outreach, and extension activities so that individual team members' needs are met with compassion and attention to equity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108966
JournalBiological Conservation
StatePublished - Mar 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

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