Durham, N.C. – You may remember her as the Nicholas School of the Environment student and political newbie who surprised pundits by running for district supervisor of the Durham County Soil & Water Conservation District in 2020 and winning.

Now, Anjali Boyd is exceeding expectations again.

This month, the National Academy of Sciences selected Boyd – a first-year doctoral student in marine science and conservation – to serve as an early career liaison (ESL) to the U.S. National Committee for the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

She is one of only four young scientists nationwide to be selected for the honor. She will be the youngest member of the committee and the only student serving on it.

As an ESL, she’ll assist the committee with events and initiatives to support the goals of the Ocean Decade, with special emphasis on creating programs that boost engagement by students and early-career scholars and highlight their contributions to the field.

Her first assignment will be assisting with programming and leading meet-and-greet sessions for other early career scientists at the Ocean Decade’s U.S. virtual launch meeting on Feb. 3 and 4.

The ESL post is a two-year appointment.  

The UN’s Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development began this year. Its goal is to promote “the science we need for the ocean we want” by fostering innovative approaches to marine conservation and management through collaborative research and increased data-sharing.

In addition to her work on that project, Boyd is actively engaged in efforts to boost underrepresented minority participation in ocean sciences through her work with numerous national scientific organizations, including the Ecological Society of America (ESA), the Society of Wetland Scientists and the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography.  She is past-chair of the student section of ESA and, last September, was appointed by ESA’s governing board to serve on the 9,000-member association’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice Task Force. She is the youngest member and only student on the task force.

In 2018, while still an undergraduate at Eckerd College, she was named a NOAA Hollings Scholar and subsequently spent four months conducting research on seagrass and food web ecology at the Duke University Marine Lab, under the guidance of faculty member Brian Silliman. That work led to her receiving an honorable mention from the highly competitive National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship program in 2019 – before she was, technically, even a graduate student.  

In 2020, she received a Dean’s Graduate Fellowship to pursue doctoral studies at the Nicholas School, where she is a member of Silliman’s lab. She is already lead author of one peer-reviewed study, now in review, and another that she hopes to submit for publication early this year.