Europlanet Science Congress 2020
Virtual meeting
21 September – 9 October 2020
Europlanet Science Congress 2020
Virtual meeting
21 September – 9 October 2020

Oral presentations and abstracts


The benefits of diversity and inclusiveness in the scientific community are incontrovertible. This session aims to foster debate within the planetary sciences community about the reasons behind under-representation of different groups (gender, cultural, ethnic origin and national) and best practices to make the research environment more inclusive identifying and addressing barriers to equality.

We invite abstracts focusing on: under-representation (gender, cultural, ethnic origin and nationality biases) supported by statistics and data; outreach and education activities to reach broad and diverse audiences, best practices to support inclusiveness; and case studies on mentoring and bias-concerned activities.

Convener: Arianna Piccialli | Co-conveners: Lena Noack, Edgard Rivera-Valentin

Session assets

Session summary

Chairperson: Arianna Piccialli
| MI
Melinda Dósa, Liviu Matenco, and Anita Heward

In order to build a diverse, inclusive community of Earth and space scientists within Europe, a statistical study is carried out based on participation statistics of different conferences in Europe over the past five years. Data of geoscience conferences (EGU, IUGG), planetary (EPSC) and solar-terrestrial science conferences (ESWW, ESPM) are investigated. Special focus is given to the historical division between Eastern and Western Europe. The registration statistics of virtual conferences are also analysed.
The aim is to show that the geographical division continues to exist and does not show a general improving trend, while the position of the younger generation seems to improve. Some “success cases” defying the usual trend are shown and analysed in detail. We suggest some reasons behind the statistics and draw some lessons that can help integrating less represented researchers into the mainstream of European Earth and space sciences.

How to cite: Dósa, M., Matenco, L., and Heward, A.: Geographic diversity in Earth and Space sciences - do virtual conferences change the picture?, Europlanet Science Congress 2020, online, 21 Sep–9 Oct 2020, EPSC2020-948,, 2020.

Maria Luísa Almeida and Rosa Doran

Our Space Our Future – Space Careers for everyone!

Our Space our Future (OurSpace), an H2020 Project, visions a society that enables and empowers all students, regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability or socio-economic background, to consider a career related to space science as a relevant, attainable and exciting aspiration for their future.

The OurSpace project is designing and running sustainable education and outreach activities, and taking these out into communities, ensuring that underserved audiences are embraced and integrated into the project. These actions aim to foster the interest of young students in space-related topics and show them how space impacts their daily life, even though they might not be aware of it. Working closely with teachers and educators, OurSpace helps them develop attractive interdisciplinary activities that raise their interest in STEAM subjects.

The project encompasses space science, industry and careers globally, but there is a strong focus on planetary sciences since it is one of the first space topics in primary school and is also easily related to the curriculum later on.

There are three main lines of action: school activities, family and community events, and teacher training. Strategies have been outlined by the consortium to make sure we reach students/families/communities that have less opportunities to be exposed to this theme.

Schools are being chosen taking into account indicators of disadvantage status such as FSM, geographical isolation, number of immigrants. Activities are planned to be interdisciplinary,  interactive and inquiry-based, such as doing workshops on space subjects with non-science teachers, having students designing missions collaboratively, designing accessible activities for a range of ages and abilities.

Events are being prepared to make space relevant to family/community daily life - getting role models from the local school or community,  that challenge gender and other stereotypes; having students co-creating activities with family and community; preparing events that explore space science but does not mention it explicitly.

Teachers are the key link to students, families and community, so there is a big emphasis on teacher training. Working closely with teachers, we can support them, prioritize inclusion, co-create inspirational activities, and open a door to the future.

Space is a stable growing sector, that provides many career opportunities for young students. However, few young people consider pursuing a career in a space-related field. We want to inspire our students, families and communities, guiding them towards new paths they didn’t know were available.

OurSpace will engage over 60,000 people across the programme, with a longitudinal evaluation study that explores improved scientific literacy, interest and confidence in space science themes and assesses the impact on space-related and STEM choices and career aspirations of 5,000 directly-participating students across 4 delivery countries.

How to cite: Almeida, M. L. and Doran, R.: Our Space Our Future – Space Careers for everyone!, Europlanet Science Congress 2020, online, 21 Sep–9 Oct 2020, EPSC2020-1079,, 2020.

Jose Saraiva, Teresa Direitinho, and Rosa Doran

In the early 2000’s, a group of astronomers working in Portugal, aware of the deficit in science literacy in the country, decided to create an organization devoted to science communication and outreach. And so, NUCLIO was born. Naturally, the early efforts of this group were focused in the field of astronomy, but soon other fields were included in the endeavour. Through the years, NUCLIO grew and became an important player in the field of education, joining many international projects and creating links with educational institutions all over the world.

Early in its history, NUCLIO created Portal do Astrónomo, a portal with many diverse sections, trying to spread information by translating news, giving space to scientists to talk about their research and fields of interest, answering questions from the public, and using the available technological means to reach its audience. Given the scarcity of Portuguese-language sites disseminating science, the Portal collected large numbers of readers, namely in Brazil.

In recent years, with the advent of PLOAD (Portuguese Language Office of Astronomy for Development), a new need was felt: reaching out to the Portuguese-speaking communities in Africa and elsewhere. Tightening collaboration with other communicators in Brazil and African countries has become a goal for NUCLIO and the Portal. Another goal is becoming more involved in the efforts to make people all over the world aware of the need to protect the planet and its global environment, and of the fact that we all belong to one and the same species, facing a common future.

The current Portal features Space Scoop and other astronomical news translations, but also original contributions in columns such as the Theme of the Month and others, where different science themes are tackled; the target audience is now mainly teachers and students, given the closer ties with this field, and the fact that new groups directed at the general public have come into existence.

We are striving to become ever more inclusive and global (recently we started including English versions of some texts in the Portal), and to take advantage of new tools for communication, like producing webinars and online courses. A new section was recently created where simple astronomical challenges are proposed, demanding some interaction and commitment from the readers.

In the meantime, NUCLIO has also invested in social media, creating connections between the Portal and Facebook, for instance. Thus, the publications in Portal can reach new audiences and in fact help in weaving a close network between the many projects in which NUCLIO is involved and the public.

We feel that in this globalized but increasingly selfish world it is still important to spread information about science, and at the same time consolidate and educate the audience, so that a more informed public can become aware of the role of science and education in reaching a sustainable and solidary society and an environmentally sound planet.

How to cite: Saraiva, J., Direitinho, T., and Doran, R.: NUCLIO science communication: an ongoing effort to spread the word, Europlanet Science Congress 2020, online, 21 Sep–9 Oct 2020, EPSC2020-1045,, 2020.

Özgür Karatekin and Thomas Blunier

EGU, the European Geosciences Union, is Europe’s premier geosciences union, dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in the Earth, planetary, and space sciences for the benefit of humanity, worldwide. Every year, the EGU awards and medals programme recognises eminent scientists for their outstanding research contribution in the Earth, planetary and space sciences. In addition, it identifies the awardees as role models for the next generation of early career scientists to foster geoscience research.

Nominations for all the medals and awards are submitted every year online by 15 June by the members of the EGU scientific community. Any person can be nominated except the EGU president, vice-president council members (not including ex- officio members) and chair of the EGU committees. Then, each EGU medal or award is selected through a rigorous assessment of the candidates and their merits. The EGU Council, the medal and award committees’ members and the Union and division officers are committed to soliciting the nomination of deserving individuals by avoiding conflicts of interest. Proposal, selection of candidates and the time schedule are described in detail at EGU website.

It is a strict necessity when recognizing scientific excellence by any scientific association providing equal opportunities and ensuring balance. The processes and procedures that lead to the recognition of excellence has to be transparent and free of gender biases. However, establishment of clear and transparent evaluation criteria and performance metrics in order to provide equal opportunities to researchers across gender, continents and ethnic groups can be challenging since the definition of scientific excellence is often elusive.

This presentation aims to present the experience and the efforts of the European Geosciences Union to ensure equal opportunities, data and statistics will be presented in the attempt to provide constructive indications to get to the target of giving equal opportunities to researchers across gender, continents and ethnic groups.

How to cite: Karatekin, Ö. and Blunier, T.: Equality of opportunities in geosciences: The EGU Awards Committee experience, Europlanet Science Congress 2020, online, 21 Sep–9 Oct 2020, EPSC2020-743,, 2020.