Dr. Karlisa Callwood
Director, Community Conservation Education & Action Program at the Perry Institute for Marine Science
Nassau, New Providence, The Bahamas
Dr. Karlisa Callwood is a marine scientist, informal science educator, and science communicator who focuses on interdisciplinary approaches to evaluating fisheries and conservation management. With over 15 years of experience developing and managing science education programming, her experience ranges from community engagement and partnership development to leading and implementing DEAI initiatives across several organizations. Her interests include establishing practices to enhance science education in underserved communities; understanding the socio-economic factors that influence fishers’ decisions and prompt behavior changes; enhancing strategies to better bridge the gaps that exist between scientists, policymakers, and the public; and developing tools to facilitate DEAI transformations in organizations. Dr. Callwood holds a Ph.D. in Ecosystem Science and Policy from the University of Miami. As a BWEEMS Board member, she hopes to continue highlighting the work of Black women scientists and to provide a space where our members can learn, collaborate, share strategies, and support each other.
How did you get started on your career path?
My interest in marine science began at an early age. I grew up in the Virgin Islands spending a lot of time on the beach and in boats, which contributed to my love for the ocean. I always knew from then that I wanted to do something related to the sea.
What is one thing you wish you would have known when you were getting started in your STEM journey?
One thing I wish I knew was that there are lots of other ways to be a STEM professional outside of being a researcher and doing the traditional Undergrad-Grad-Academia pathway. That pathway is extremely limiting and can also be unwelcoming for people like me who come from backgrounds that are underrepresented.
What is one piece of advice you would give to Black/BIPOC women who are interested in STEM careers?
Prioritize valuing the strengths that you bring to your career (and your organization) and use those strengths to advocate for yourself. As Black Women, we are constantly undervalued while also asked to go above and beyond....and we are rarely compensated for that. Be the expert, but also use that to level up
What current projects and initiatives are you working on?
I was recently selected as National Geographic Explorer and awarded funding to study the role of subsistence fisheries in providing resilience to island communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What is the current focus of your research?
I am an interdisciplinary marine researcher who studies fisheries management and sustainability. My current research focuses on the socio-economic factors and perceptions influencing the dynamics in Bahamian fisheries and strategies for influencing social and behavior conservation change related to fisheries.