The Committee On INclusiveness in SDSS (COINS) was formed to address issues having to do with inclusion in the survey. Our broad goals are to assess the SDSS project and collaboration's climate and demographics, to recommend to the collaboration management new policies or practices with regard to increasing inclusiveness, and to assist in the implementation of these new activities where necessary. We publicize our findings to the collaboration and ensure that resources that promote inclusivity are widely accessible. We aim to provide the collaboration tools to improve the climate of equity and inclusion.

COINS in Action:

COINS Initiatives

  • Identification of effective ways to increase the diversity in collaboration leadership.
  • Routine recommendation to SDSS-IV on how best to develop its scientific and technical leadership team, in particular so as to foster greater inclusiveness, ensuring equal participation to the Collaboration regardless of gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, career stage, geographic location, economic background, social and cultural backgrounds etc and all possible intersections thereof.
  • Routine evaluation the collaboration's demographics, as measured by the representation in management, science working groups, collaboration meeting talks, and review panels, and other areas.
  • Routine evaluation of the collaboration's general climate, with respect to having a healthy atmosphere for encouraging young scientists to participate and lead scientifically, and for good communication between young scientists and the survey leadership.

COINS Activities:

  • Hosting new member and inclusive activities at virtual and in-person SDSS collaboration meetings: Bingo, speed geeking, new members breakfast, FAST buddies, reception ping pong, lunch discussions
  • Facilitating Bystander and Inclusive Leadership training at SDSS collaboration and survey team meetings.
  • Conducting SDSS wide demographics surveys for 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, and 2021.
  • Creating guidelines for inclusive telecons, meeting accessibility, chairing, and conflict resoultion (available to the public).
  • Engaging in conferences to promote accessibility and inclusion.
  • Producing a COINS Legacy document for future surveys and other collaborations.

Recommendations and Guidelines Documents

A major component of the COINS has been the creation and dissemination of practical guides to encourage inclusive practices within the collaboration. Below are links to versions of our documents prepared for the Data Release. In addition, we also have "living documents" available in our COINS Document Repository (Github), where the Documents section has content both as markdown pages and as PDF documents created from the markdown.

Best Practices:
A document on best practices for an inclusive environment, which is complimentary to the SDSS Code of Conduct
Meeting accessibility:
A set of guidelines and suggestions for making meetings more accessible, including suggestions for the venue, organizers, and participants
Telecon recommendations:
A list of recommendations for making telecons more inclusive, along with a few common questions and answers.
Chairing guidelines:
A set of guidelines for chairing at meetings to help the session be more inclusive and accessible.
Virtual Chairing Guidelines:
A set of guidelines for chairing at virtual meetings to help the session be more inclusive and accessible.
Guide to Conflict Resolution:
A set of guidelines for addressing conflict within the collaboration.

FAST and REU programs

COINS also has assisted with the implementation of the Faculty And Student Teams (FAST) and Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) programs within SDSS. The goal of these programs is to increase the participation of underrepresented minorities in SDSS-IV.

FAST: Faculty And Student Teams

The FAST initiative was designed to increase the number of scientists in our collaboration that identify with groups under-represented in STEM. SDSS member institutes must buy into the collaboration, so participation in SDSS is often limited to those institutions that have larger financial resources. The FAST program was designed to bring in teams of faculty and students from minority-serving institutions (MSIs), provides support funding, provides project and data mentoring, and, most importantly, support full participation in the survey.

In 2016, the FAST program included 5 teams covering the breadth of SDSS research. In 2018, the Sloan Foundation renewed the FAST program for a second 3-year award cycle.

REU: Research Experience for Undergraduates

Most Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) programs are traditionally organized within a single institution. In 2016, SDSS supported a pilot program to investigate the possibility of building a student cohort in a distributed REU model. During that summer, six REU students participated in the program, including a week-long boot camp and four different REU sites.

COINS Membership

Participation in COINS was determined via an open call to collaboration members for letters of interest. A call was issued annually. The membership selects its co-chairs roughly 6 months based on the anticipated time commitments of its members. Participation in COINS was eligible for the FTE requirements of evaluation for Architect Status. We acknowledge our membership below and indicate those individuals holding leadership positions in the SDSS-IV project as well as using a * to indicate members serving on the Management Council.

Current members

Rachael Beaton (Carnegie Observatories & Princeton University, co-chair 2019-2021)
Sarah Bird ( China Three Gorges University (CTGU), Yichang, Hubei, China)
Adam Burgasser (University California-San Diego)
Brian Cherinka (Space Telescope Science Institute)
Emily Farr (University of Washington)
Peter Frinchaboy* (Texas Christian University)
Amy Jones (Space Telescope Science Institute, co-chair 2020-2021)
Penélope Longa-Peña (Universidad de Antofagasta)
Mariarosa Marinelli (Virginia Commonwealth University/Space Telescope Science Institute)
Karen Masters* (Haverford College; SDSS-IV Spokesperson)
Jesus Pando (De Paul University; FAST liason)
Mariana Vargas (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México)
John Wilson* (University of Virginia)

Past members

Alfonso Aragon-Salamanca (2016-2017)
Mehmet Alpaslan (2018-2020)
Francesco Belfiore (2016-2017)
Nancy Chanover (2016-2017)
Diane Feuillet (2016-2017)
Kelly Holley-Bockelmann (2016-2018)
Sara Lucatello (2016-2018)
José Sanchez-Gallego (2016-2019)
Audrey Oravetz (2016-2017)
René Alberto Ortega Minakata (2017-2019)
Ashley Ross (2016-2019)
Sarah Jane Schmidt (2016-2019)
Zachary Slepian (2017-2019)
Jennifer Sobeck* (2017-2021)
Keivan Stassun* (2016-2019)
Jamie Tayar (2016-2018)

Presentations, Posters, & Publications


Jones et al. (in prep)
Presentation of the 2015 and 2016 Demographic Surveys with a comparison to the 2014 surveys. Analysis of trends identified over the three years.
Lucatello & Diamond-Stanic (2017)
A preliminary dive into the 2015 and 2016 Demographic Surveys as part of a special issue of Nature Astronomy.
Lundgren et al. (2015)
A demographic snapshot of the SDSS-IV collaboration in 2014 at the outset of SDSS-IV.


R. Beaton (2021)
Inclusion in a Large Astronomy Collaborations (4MOST All Hands Meeting 2021)
R. Beaton (2021)
The Committee On INcusiveness in SDSS (SDSS2021 Collaboration Meeting)
K. Masters (2021)
The demographics of Education Public Outreach (EPO) participation among professional scientists in the Sloan Digital Sky Surveys IV (Communicating Astronomy with the Public 2021 )
A. Jones (2020)
COINS, Committee On INcusiveness in SDSS: Lessons Learned (LSST Working Group Meeting)
A. Jones (2020)
The Committee On INcusiveness in SDSS: Demographic Surveys 2014-2018 (SDSS2020 Collaboration Meeting)
A. Jones (2019)
Report on The Committee On INcusiveness in SDSS (SDSS2019 Collaboration Meeting)
M. Alpaslan (2019)
The Committee On INcusiveness in SDSS (Presentation to the Multi-Messenger Diversity Network)
M. Vargas Magaña (2019)
The Committee On INcusiveness in SDSS (Presentation to DESI Collaboration)
A. Jones (2018)
The Committee On INcusiveness in SDSS: An Introduction (SDSS2018 Collaboration Meeting)
J. Sanchez-Galledo (2018)
The Committee On INcusiveness in SDSS: First Results from the Demographic Survey (SDSS2018 Collaboration Meeting)
S. Schmidt (2017)
Report from The Committee On INcusiveness in SDSS (SDSS2017 Collaboration Meeting)
S. Schmidt (2016)
Equity & Inclusion at the intersection of identities (AIP Equity Lunch)


Ross et al. (2019)
Efforts to Improve Accessibility in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SciAccess 2019 Conference)
Jones et al. (2018)
SDSS efforts on inclusion for bridging different communities (2018 IAU General Assembly)
Schmidt et al. (2017)
The Formation of COINS: Equity and Inclusion in SDSS (AAS Meeting Abstract)
Holley-Bockelmann et al. (2017)
The FAST Initiative: Fostering a More Inclusive SDSS Collaboration (AAS Meeting Abstract)

Materials & Activity Templates

Materials affiliated with COINS activities can be found in our COINS Materials Repository (Github).

Activities to Engage New Members

Collaboration Bingo
Constructed bingo cards that encourage members of the collaboration to meet each other during in-person collaboration meetings.
Speed Geeking
Meet and Greet activity where experienced and new members of the collaboration rotate through spending a short time (3-5 minutes) introducing themselves and their science. This adapted well to virtial meetings in 2020 using randomized breakouts.
New Members Guides
Each survey constructed Getting Started Guides on the internal wiki.

Developing Inclusive Leadership

ByStander Intervention
Strategies for intervening in difficult situations.
Town Hall Events
Question and answer sessions with the Collaboration.
Code of Conduct Discussions
Events to discuss the Code of Conduct and Best Practices for an inclusive collaboration.

Demographic Surveys

Bi-annual Demographic Survey
Every 2 years COINS conducts a demographic survey of the Collaboration. The Survey also measures attitudes toward E/PO and Question Asking. Surveys were conducted in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, and 2021.