December 2012

Minutes of the ESA Governing Board,
December 18-19, 2012
Washington, DC

Members Present:
Scott Collins               President
Steward Pickett          Past-President
Sharon Collinge          VP for Public Affairs
Deborah Goldberg      VP for Science
Julie Reynolds            VP for Education and Human Resources
Charles Canham        Secretary
Michelle Mack             Member at Large 

Staff Present:
Katherine McCarter     Executive Director
Elizabeth Biggs           Chief Financial Officer
Nadine Lymn               Director, Public Affairs
Cliff Duke                     Director, Science
Michelle Horton            Director, Administration
Teresa Mourad            Director, Education and Diversity
David Baldwin              Managing Editor
Sue Silver                    Editor-in-Chief, Frontiers

Members Absent:     
Mimi Lam                      Member-at-Large
Stephen Jackson          Member-at-Large
Leslie Real                   VP for Finance (present via Skype for a portion of the meeting)
Jill Baron                      President-Elect                                                              

9:00 am, meeting called to order by President Scott Collins  

I. Roll Call and Agenda

A. Adopt Agenda

Sharon Collinge moved and Steward Pickett seconded adoption of the agenda.  All aye.

B. Ratification of Votes taken since August meeting

            1. Minutes, August 2012

            Deborah Goldberg moved and Sharon Collinge seconded approval of the minutes of the August 2012 meeting.  All aye.

            2. EiC for Issues in Ecology

            Deborah Goldberg moved and Sharon Collinge seconded approval of Serita Frey as Editor-in-Chief for Issues in Ecology.  All aye.

II. Reports

A. Report of the President

            Scott Collins reported on his activities as President since the August meeting, including efforts to maintain momentum on the Earth Stewardship Initiative.  He is particularly interested in reaching out to the arts community during annual meetings.  He is also interested in maintaining the outreach to the faith community. 

            He also reported on activities related to ESA publications, including issues related to open access.  Recommendations from an ad-hoc committee on the future of publications will be presented to the Governing Board at the May 2013 meeting.  He also summarized a meeting with representatives from NSF concerning the proposal submission process.

B. Report of the Executive Director and Staff

            Katherine McCarter summarized her report on staff activities, noting that the ESA Fellows program is up and running.  Cliff Duke reported on two new publications in the Issues in Ecology series, and several more in the pipeline.  Planning has begun for the next Emerging Issues conference. Nadine Lymn described activities of the Public Affairs program.  Sue Silver reported on Frontiers, including a planned special issue on the national climate assessment.  The 100th issue of Frontiers was just published.   Elizabeth Biggs noted that the Portland meeting resulted in membership exceeding 10,000.  David Baldwin summarized activities in the Publication Office, including a new automated system for handling Ecological Archives.  Teresa Mourad gave a brief review of the Education and Diversity program.  A full program review will be presented later in the meeting.  Michelle Horton reported on efforts to migrate the website to new software to make it easier for staff to update materials of the website, and provided an update on planning for the 2013 meeting. 

C. Financial Updates

                        1. First Quarter Financials

                        Katherine McCarter and Elizabeth Biggs reported on first quarter financials.  There was extensive discussion of the financial issues involved in selection of sites for the annual meetings.        

                        2. Investment Updates

                        Elizabeth Biggs summarized the Society’s investment accounts. 

III. Discussion/Action Items

A. Program Review – Education and Diversity Programs

            Teresa Mourad and VP Julie Reynolds presented the formal periodic review of the Education and Diversity Program.  There are 3 core programs: SEEDS, the EcoEd digital library, and the Macroscale Ecology Education initiative.  There is a new regional structure for the SEEDS chapters.  There is also a new social networking site for SEEDS.  The EcoEd Digital Library is a relatively new effort that offers resources designed to raise data literacy, build core concepts, and strengthen communities of practice.  The Macroscale Ecology Education program has been funded primarily by NSF, and is a partnership with NCEAS and NEON.

            The Committee on Diversity and Education held a retreat this fall and has produced an action plan for the coming year.  Julie Reynolds discussed the importance of addressing diversity in all aspects of the Society’s activities, and highlighted elements of the action plan.  This included making the Education Scholars program more visible, and making the Diversity Award a standing award from the Society.

B. Code of Ethics Revision 

            The Ecology for the New Generation Committee has proposed changes to the ESA Code of Ethics.  The proposals have been referred to the Professional Ethics and Appeals Committee, chaired by Patricia Flebbe.  That committee will consider the proposals and report to the Governing Board at the May 2013 meeting.

C. Editor-in-Chief Review

            Editors are appointed for 3 year terms, and go through a formal evaluation at the end of each term.  The Publications Committee, chaired by Josh Schimel, submitted their review of Editor-in-Chief Don Strong, who has served 4 terms.  The committee fully endorsed his re-appointment for another 3-year term, and the board enthusiastically agreed.  Steward Pickett moved and Sharon Collinge seconded a motion to appoint Don Strong for another 3-year term as Editor-in-Chief of Ecology.  All aye.

D. SEEDS Sustainability Report

            Joe Gilmer of CCS presented a summary of their report on development strategies for support of the SEEDS project.

E. SEEDS Sustainability Discussion

            Staff and board members engaged in a spirited discussion of the report by CCS, and opportunities for philanthropic support of SEEDS and other ESA initiatives.  There was consensus of the need to expand the base of financial support (among members and more broadly) for both SEEDS and the Society at large.   

F. Centennial Committee Final Report

            The Centennial Committee, chaired by Alan Covich, submitted a final report containing a list of recommendations for activities and expenditures related to the ESA Centennial.  Included in the report is a proposal to fund a short video tracing the history of the Society.  Sharon Collinge moved and Julie Reynolds seconded a motion to approve the allocation of $38,350 for the production of the video.  All aye. 

            The Historical Records Committee presented a detailed request for $18,980 to support their activities.  The 2015 Past Presidents Committee requests $2650 for their activities related to the Centennial.  Deborah Goldberg moved and Steward Pickett seconded a motion to approve both requests.   All aye. 

            Deborah Goldberg moved and Julie Reynolds seconded a motion to approve $2000 to support the production of a history of the Society, for publication in the Bulletin, by Frank Egerton.  All aye.

            Deborah Goldberg moved and Julie Reynolds seconded a motion to approve $10,000 to support other activities planned by sections, chapters and committees, and recommended by the ESA Council.  All aye.  The monies will be allocated and approved by a centennial implementation committee established by the Board.

            There was also a proposal to collect an online series of “classic” papers with introductions.  The effort will be coordinated by David Baldwin, and no funds are requested.  The Board supported this proposal.  A proposal to commission a set of centennial papers for the journals was tabled pending further details from the editors-in-chief.

            Deborah Goldberg moved and Julie Reynolds seconded a motion to approve $10,000 to support student-initiated activities related to the Centennial, with encouragement to include participation by SEEDS students.  All aye.

G. Commitment to Human Diversity in Ecology Award

            Julie Reynolds presented a proposal to make the Diversity Award one of the standing awards of the Society.  Deborah Goldberg moved and Steward Pickett seconded a motion that the award, named the Commitment to Human Diversity in Ecology Award, becomes a formal ESA award, with recommendation from a standing subcommittee of the Awards Committee.  All aye. 

H. ESA/ESC Joint Journal

            Katherine McCarter provided an update on the development of the ESA/ESC joint journal.  There has been agreement on the division of responsibilities and the budget for the new journal.  Thomas Liu, from the editorial staff of Acta Ecologica Sinica, is spending time at ESA Headquarters to work on development of the journal.

I. Mid-term Program Review - Finances

            Elizabeth Biggs presented the mid-term review of the Society financial program.  Institutional subscriptions continue to provide the largest single source of unrestricted funds, but the numbers of institutional subscriptions continue to decline.  Membership has held roughly steady in the past 5 years, with minor fluctuations tied to attendance at the annual meetings.  The Society’s reserves have steadily increased over the past 10 years.

J. Ad Hoc Working Group on ESA Publications Update

            Scott Collins summarized work of the ad hoc working group charged with considering the impact of open access on ESA publications.  The committee met in early December, and will present recommendations at the May 2013 Governing Board meeting.  There was an extensive discussion of open-access issues.

K. Editor-in-Chief Stipends

            Deborah Goldberg presented a report from the Publications Committee on Editor-in-Chief stipends.  Sharon Collinge moved and Steward Pickett seconded a motion to approve the the following recommendations:

            A. Stipends will remain the same for Ecology and Ecological Applications.

            B.  The stipend for the Editor-In-Chief of Ecological Monographs will increase to $10,000/yr, effective January 1, 2013.

            C.  In the budget year when submissions to Ecosphere are expected to exceed 500, the stipend for Ecosphere will be increased by $7,500.

            All aye.

L. IRB reviews of ESA surveys

            Julie Reynolds moved and Sharon Collinge seconded a motion to approve the proposed policy on IRB approvals.  All aye.

The new policy states:

“The Ecological Society of America is occasionally asked to assist or cooperate with researchers who seek to survey all or part of the ESA membership (e.g., as a representative set of professional ecologists). Such surveys may involve sensitive or personal information. In order to provide legal, ethical, and other protections for the Society and for the survey participants, all researchers seeking to use Society membership rolls, mailing lists and other resources must have prior approval for their project from the Institutional Review Boards (IRB) of their respective institutions. Such approval must be documented before the Society will provide membership lists or other resources.

Routine membership surveys and inventories conducted on behalf of the Society for internal needs of the Society (e.g., demographic profiles, member-satisfaction or need surveys) are ordinarily exempt from IRB review. Alternatively, if an ESA-sponsored research project is intended for dissemination beyond ESA officers, councilors, or general membership, it should be reviewed by an IRB of an outside organization (e.g., a university in the greater Washington, DC area).”

M. Community of Practitioners

            Mimi Lam has submitted a proposal that seeks to offer reduced registration fees to increase attendance at the annual meetings for specific targeted groups.  The board supported the general goals of the proposal, and tabled the proposal pending more detail on definition of the targeted groups, financial implications, and methods for implementation.   Vice President for Education and Human Resources Julie Reynolds was asked to work with Mimi Lam to refine the proposal.     

L. New Business

            Deborah Goldberg described a joint initiative of the science, education, and public affairs programs to encourage and provide information and mentoring for a wider range of career paths in ecology.  Specific proposals include establishing a network of mentors and a webpage with supporting materials.   The development of the initiative has been supported with an initial long-range planning grant.  She requested a $5,000 allocation from the Opportunity Fund to support an intern to work with the HQ office on establishing the website.  Deborah Goldberg moved and Julie Reynolds seconded a motion to approve allocation of $5,000 from the Opportunity Fund to support the Career Pathways in Ecology program.


Adjourned at 11:55 pm

Field Assistant

Field Assistant

Opportunity location: Montana

Job Description: We are looking for a field assistant to participate in a study of fire history and controls on burn severity in lower treeline forests within mixed severity fire regimes. The field assistant will work as part of an international team of scientists to collect dendroecological and stand structure data from sites in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and the Northern Continental Divide (Glacier National Park & surrounding areas).

Data collection will involve the use of increment borers to extract tree cores, handsaws and/or chainsaws to sample for fire scars, and basic forest survey techniques to sample stand structure. Field work will involve substantial off trail hiking, including through recent wildfire areas. Long periods of camping will be required. Candidates having completed basic coursework in ecology and with prior field work and/or research experience will be given priority. Candidates with Work Study are desirable, but this is not a requirement.

Qualifications: Successful applicants will possess some or all of the following characteristics:

  1. Familiarity with the basic forest ecology of the Northern Rockies.
  2. Familiarity with Montana flora.
  3. Possess their own basic camping and field gear equipment.
  4. Basic orienteering and map reading skills.
  5. Good physical fitness and the ability to hike off trail.
  6. The ability to work independently and in a team environment.
  7. Attentiveness to detail.
  8. Posses a valid drivers license and have the ability to navigate forest roads and operate a 4 wheel drive vehicle.

Salary: $2,500
Duration: June-early August.Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.
TO APPLY: please send a cover letter, two letters of recommendation (with appropriate contact info), and a resume to:

BLM Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail – Wilderness Internship

American Conservation Experience:
BLM Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail – Wilderness Internship

Summary: American Conservation Experience, a nationwide Non-Profit Conservation Corps based in Flagstaff, AZ, in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Bakersfield Field Office, is seeking twointerns to dedicate 6-months to the management, restoration and protection of the area’s diverse and significant natural and cultural resources. This opportunity is intended for enthusiastic young professionals with a deep interest in advancing their career goals by further developing this dynamic program.

Start Date: As soon as filled
End Date: August 5, 2011

A 6-month commitment is required.

Location: The Bakersfield Field Office has stewardship responsibility for approximately 1.7 million acres of public land in and around the southern Sierra Nevadas.

Project Partner Website: For more information on the BLM Bakersfield field office please visit their website at:

Compensation: $175/week living stipend. Housing is not provided, but a $400/mo housing allowance will be included. Intern will also receive a one-time bonus of $1100 upon successful completion of the internship.

Position Description: The ACE wilderness interns will organize and coordinate field work within the BLM and partner organizations, and will prioritize overall duties as established by the supervisor. The interns will work on many aspects of National Scenic Trail and Wilderness management, including patrol of Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail (PCNST), Wilderness boundaries and dispersed recreation sites associated with these resources. Workload is divided between monitoring, maintenance and inventory activities.

Monitoring will be conducted along the pacific crest trail and other parts of the wilderness. Interns will interact with wilderness users. They will coordinate tasks with BLM Wilderness Managers and Law Enforcement as the need arises.

Maintenance of the PCNST, Wilderness boundaries and dispersed recreation sites will be conducted as the need arises. The interns may be required to work with the PCNST Volunteer Groups and coordinate their work. Basic maintenance task will include signing wilderness boundaries, maintaining wilderness and informational kiosks, site clean-up and trail maintenance.

Ongoing inventory of trail condition and data collection on wilderness characteristics will be conducted. Interns are expected to use GPS equipment and field notes to record findings and prepare GIS information and reports as requested.

Work is predominately a field position - 75% of the time will be spent in an outdoor setting. The climate is generally arid. Temperatures frequently exceed 90 degrees during the summer months, and drop to 40 degrees in the winter months. Protective footgear, such as hard-toed boots may be required for protection from rattlesnake bites. The ACE interns may be required to work in remote areas of the field office. This includes driving four-wheel drive vehicles, all-terrain vehicles (ATV) and hikes of up to 4 miles over rough, uneven terrain. Walking, digging holes, painting, posting signs, and other general maintenance work will be required. Extensive bending, stooping, kneeling and lifting up to 50 pounds is required. The remaining 25% of the time will be spent in office or public meeting facilities. Interns are expected to work 40 hours/week. Interns must be willing to work varied schedules throughout the spring and summer.

Project Background and Objectives: Individuals selected for this position will serve as interns for the BLM Bakersfield Field Office. The objective of this internship is to provide meaningful experiences for youth while also providing a benefit to public land resources and users. Interns will gain job skills related to the management of public lands by working with land managers on various projects. Participants will be instilled with an appreciation of natural resources, the benefits of cooperation, hard work and a sense of accomplishment with emphasis on a sound work ethic that will supplement their other educational opportunities.

Applicants must have a degree in biological sciences, Wilderness management and/or Policy, agriculture, natural resource management, recreation resource management, botany, or related disciplines appropriate to the position. A combination of relevant education and appropriate experience is also acceptable. Resumes must contain enough information to show that the applicant meets the experience as defined in the internship announcement.

Required Skills:

  • Internship is available to US Citizens and Green Card holders only
  • Intern must be between the age of 18 and 26
  • Must have a valid driver’s license, clean driving record, and ability to provide documentation; personal vehicle required
  • Intern must have personal medical insurance for the duration of their participation with ACE
  • Ability and willingness to undergo a criminal background check is required

Qualifications Desired

  • Interest in national trail and/or wilderness management
  • Ability to backpack for multiple tours in a Wilderness environment (tours last up to nine days)
  • Experience with Wilderness camping and Leave No Trace principals
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills and ability to interact with Wilderness visitors
  • Ability to work alone/in a small group with minimal supervision
  • Some experience with use of GPS unit
  • Experienced photographer, photo editing and ESRI ARCMap / Google Earth desirable
  • Experience driving four wheel drive vehicles over rugged roads

The interns must be willing to represent ACE and the BLM in a professional, positive, and enthusiastic manner. Drug users, including recreational smokers of marijuana, should not consider applying, as ACE reserves the right to require drug testing.

To Apply:

Please email a resume and cover letter along with 3 professional references in one document to with “BLM Bakersfield PCT/Wilderness Intern - ESA referred” in the subject heading of your email. The position announcement closes when filled; early consideration will be given as resumes are received. Please apply ASAP if interested.

Palomarin Field Station Research Internships

Palomarin Field Station Research Internships

Interns needed at PRBO Conservation Science's Palomarin Field Station on the California coast, north of San Francisco. We have been studying songbirds at the Palomarin Field Station since 1965, with special focus on the breeding ecology of Wrentits and Song Sparrows. Fieldwork includes some combination of mist-netting, banding adults and nestlings, nest searching, habitat assessment, territory mapping, and conducting point count surveys in coastal scrub and riparian habitats. Banding internships include public and K-12 group outreach. All internships include data entry. Expect long hours in the field and office. Interns will become proficient in landbird monitoring techniques and learn about various aspects of avian ecology (hands-on and via scientific literature). Banding interns may participate in the North American Banding Council certification process. A strong interest in birds, self-motivation, a sense of humor, and the desire to spend long hours in the field and office are required. Participants must be able to work independently as well as in groups. Exposure to poison oak is unavoidable. A functioning pair of binoculars is required. Some of our internships require the use of a personal vehicle, current proof of insurance, and a driver's license. Any use of personal vehicles for work will be reimbursed. Assistants are needed from early/mid March through July. On-site housing is provided.

This is a voluntary training position that includes a stipend to offset living expenses while on the project ($700 per month, gross). Submit applications online or email/mail a letter of interest describing previous experience with field research, specific dates of availability and whether or not you have a vehicle, a resume, and contact information for three references (Please note if applying to other positions within PRBO) to RENEE CORMIER, PRBO, P.O. Box 1157, Bolinas, CA 94924 (415-868-0655 ext. 316;

PhD Graduate Assistantship

PhD Graduate Assistantship
New Mexico State University

Project relates to source-sink dynamics in burrowing owl populations at an ecoregional scale in black-tailed prairie dog colonies with 6 study areas from Chihuahua Mexico to South Dakota. The Ph.D. student will work with capture-recapture and stable isotope databases related to survivorship, movement patterns and general ecology. Applicants should have a B.Sc, (M.Sc. preferred). Potential students should have an interest in mathematical modeling, working with large data sets and should have the skills to train and oversee a large crew of technicians.

Applications should include a letter of interest, CV, transcripts, GRE scores, and names and contact information for three references. Review of applications will begin July 15th and will continue until a suitable candidate is found. Send applications to Dr. Martha Desmond, Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Ecology, Box 30003, MSC 4901, Las Cruces, NM 88003-0003. Send questions to

Conservation and Land Management Intern Program

Conservation and Land Management Intern Program
Chicago Botanic Garden, the Bureau of Land Management,
National Park Service and the USDA Forest Service

This is an amazing opportunity for recent and upcoming science graduates to learn about land management while working with a mentor in the western United States. We have current openings in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming beginning in June, 2008. The Conservation and Land Management Intern Program is a partnership between the Chicago Botanic Garden, the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and the USDA Forest Service.

Field duties may include: plant and wildlife monitoring and mapping; endangered species reintroduction; invasive species management; geographic data acquisition and analysis; biological assessments, sensitive species lists and conservation plans; fire ecology; land use planning; archaeology-related activities; recreation areas management; rangeland assessments; seed collection.

Travel and lodging expenses are covered for you to travel to Chicago in late May for a one-week training course held at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Training includes: Federal agency orientation; Endangered Species Act and associated programs; plant and animal identification and monitoring; GIS and mapping; and topographical map reading and GPS skills.

Compensation is $750.00/pay period (every two weeks)

How to Apply: Applicants must have a visa authorized for employment in the United States of America. Please send a letter of interest, school transcript(s), resume, and three letters of recommendation to:

This opportunity may also be conducted as a research component of a Masters program with Northwestern University and the Chicago Botanic Garden. For application information, visit:

For more information visit the website:

Summer Jobs in Soil Survey

Alaska Soil Survey Program

Summer Jobs in Soil Survey

Alaska Soil Survey Program

Homer, Alaska and Fairbanks Alaska

The Alaska soil survey program will be filling up to four Plant Ecologist (Bio-Technician) positions for the summer of 2008. Positions will be located in Homer, Alaska and in Fairbanks Alaska. Length of the assignments will be approximately 18 weeks for the surveys out of Homer (approximately June-October) and 12 weeks (June through August). This is a tremendous experience for qualified individuals to expand their botanical skills, learn soils, landforms, interpretations, mapping techniques, and apply ecological concepts, all while experiencing Alaska up close.

Requirements: Sophomore through Graduate level students who have strong botanical and plant identification skills, coursework and/or vegetation sampling experience, strong outdoor skills, and positive attitudes. Actual job duties and pay scales will be dependent on coursework and experience. The Plant Ecologist (Bio-Technician) will work with the Soil Scientist as a team to identify and describe plant communities, collect data and plant information, and assist in compilation of field data to describe ecological sites. Federal pay grades will range from GS-5 to GS-7 and include a 25 percent cost-of-living adjustment. Pay grade will be based on completed coursework and experience.

Additional Information: Please contact the Project Leader for specific information about the survey, housing situations, and field work. For general information about skills for the position you may also contact Michelle Schuman, Ecologist, 800 W. Evergreen, Palmer, AK 99645 (907) 761-7781

College Internship Opportunities in Marine Science

College Internship Opportunities in Marine Science
Mote Marine Laboratory
Sarasota, FL

Organization Description
Mote Marine Laboratory, a nonprofit organization, was founded in 1955 as a place “where people can learn more about the sea.” Today Mote, one of the few remaining independent marine research facilities in the United States, serves as a center for research, scientific collaboration, and public education focused on our marine environment. Mote has gained international recognition through the quality and diversity of its research conducted in over 50 countries by its multidisciplinary staff of recognized scientific research leaders. Unique to Mote is an adjacent public aquarium open daily with over 400,000 worldwide visitors annually and over 200 displays and educational programs originating from the Laboratory’s research.

Internship Program Mission
The mission of Mote’s College Internship Program is to inspire students with a life long appreciation and commitment to the conservation and sustainability of our oceans through a unique opportunity to explore hands-on the marine world and its inhabitants under the mentorship of recognized scientific research leaders in their respective fields of study.

Internship Description
Internships are available year-round. Duration of an internship runs from 8 to 16 weeks, with longer periods of time considered. Mote offers a wide variety of internships in seven different research centers as well as several support areas. The internship areas encompass aquaculture; animal care; environmental chemistry; coastal ecology; fisheries; marine mammal, sea turtle, and shark research. Research interns get hands-on experience in the field and laboratory with specific duties depending on research area but include animal care and surveys, acoustic monitoring, data processing and analysis, field collection, lab testing and maintenance. Support area interns gain valuable experience working in our animal care, public aquarium, communications, library, and education programs.

Applicable College Majors
Undergraduate, graduate, post graduate students are encouraged to apply as well as those taking a sabbatical in order to gain field experience. We seek primarily biology, chemistry, zoology, environmental science, ecology, aquaculture, fisheries, animal science, pre-veterinary, education, communications, aquarium management or related majors/minors for our internships. Under-represented groups in the sciences are encouraged to apply [Black, Hispanic, Native American and Pacific Islander].

Internship Financial Information
Internships are unpaid. However a limited scholarship program is available. Mote provides assistance in locating housing but interns should plan on spending $75-$100 per week for housing, plus food and entertainment. Interns should arrange for their own transportation due to limited public transportation.

Application Deadline & Contact Information
Mote has a rolling application process, but deadlines apply for scholarship submittals. Summer and scholarship applications should be submitted as soon as possible due to high demand. Additional information regarding Mote, intern opportunities, and applications is available online at, or by contacting:
Dana O’Mara – College Intern Liaison: Phone: 941-388-4441, Ext. 462

Mote Marine Laboratory, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, FL 34236
“A non-profit organization dedicated to excellence in marine science”

December 14, 2012

In this Issue


On Dec. 7, the Ecological Society of America (ESA) joined a host of other scientific societies, universities and business leaders in sending a letter, spearheaded by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), urging President Obama and Congressional leadership to reach a compromise deal that averts the “fiscal cliff” while preserving federal investment in scientific research. ESA had sent the White House and Congress a similar letter late last month.

The fiscal cliff includes a series of automatic discretionary spending cuts (sequestration) set to occur in January, if the Congress does not come up with an alternative plan to lower the deficit by $1.2 trillion before then either through spending cuts or revenue increases. Defense discretionary spending programs would be cut by 9.4 percent while non-defense discretionary spending programs would be cut by 8.2 percent under the automatic cuts. The fiscal cliff also includes expiring tax cuts and unemployment benefits that, if left unaddressed, collectively threaten to plunge the economy into another recession. The letter encourages the president and congressional leaders to come up with a balanced approach to deficit reduction, noting the important role of science and technological investment.

“It is important to recognize that federal research and development (R&D) investments are not driving our national deficits,” the letter notes. “These investments account for less than one-fifth of the current discretionary budget, but discretionary spending is the only place where deep cuts will be made. Placing a significant burden on these crucial areas, as sequestration would do, is nothing less than a threat to national competitiveness. We recognize that the United States faces severe fiscal challenges, and we urge you to begin to address them through a balanced approach that includes tax and entitlement reform.”

Both sides have put forward general plans that propose increased revenues and cuts to entitlement programs. However, despite several face-to-face meetings between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) in the weeks since the election, Congressional Republicans and Democrats remain deadlocked over the particulars of a compromise proposal. Speaker Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are opposed to the White House plan for tax increases on the highest income earners, though both sides have indicated they are somewhat flexible as to the specific revenue amount. The White House, however, asserts that the $800 trillion in revenue proposed by the GOP cannot be achieved by merely closing loopholes and deductions without unduly burdening the middle-class.

Meanwhile the president and Congressional Democrats are opposed to the level of discretionary spending cuts proposed by Republicans, which some advocacy groups contend are nearly as high as the automatic non-defense discretionary cuts would be under sequestration. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has declared that raising the Medicare eligibility age is off the table. Democrats are also calling for the package to include an increase in the debt limit, which Republicans oppose unless it is offset with spending cuts.

With the holidays fast approaching, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) has repeatedly asserted that the House will not adjourn until issues related to the fiscal cliff are resolved. The White House Office of Management and Budget has already begun directing federal agencies to begin planning for the sequester.

To view the joint society letter, click here:

To view the ESA letter, click here:


On Dec. 12, Senate appropriators released a bill to provide emergency funding to states affected by Hurricane Sandy. The bill’s total amount of $60.4 billion matches the White House funding request, sent at the end of last week.

Like the White House request, the bulk of the bill is dedicated to transportation and infrastructure investment. The bill allocates $11.5 billion to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for disaster response and recovery efforts. The measure includes $17 billion in community development block grants for housing needs and $11 billion for transit repairs, which includes funding for the Federal Transit Administration (receiving the bulk of the funding), the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Railroad Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration.

The US Army Corps of Engineers would receive $3.4 million to repair coastal projects. The bill also includes $810 million intended to address concerns about clean water programs and $1 billion for flood control and coastal emergency programs. The Senate bill also includes $810 million for Environmental Protection Agency Clean Water State Revolving Programs, $482 million for the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, $348 million for the National Park Service, $125 million for the Emergency Watershed Protection Program, $78 million for the Fish and Wildlife Service, $58 million for the Emergency Forest Restoration Program and $25 million for the Emergency Conservation Program.

Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the primary proponents of the relief funding, would like to add tax relief for individuals affected by the storm. They maintain that doing so would mirror actions taken on behalf of Hurricane Katrina victims in 2005. Nonetheless, Congressional Republicans have suggested that the funding be offset by cuts to other areas of discretionary spending. Democrats counter by pointing out offsets were not sought when the Republican-controlled House, Senate and White House enacted emergency funding assistance during Katrina.

The Senate intends to take up the bill next week, using a House-passed military construction and veterans appropriations bill as a vehicle. House Republicans, meanwhile, are researching whether specific requests for billions in aid are necessary. House appropriators would like to break the bill into parts, one addressing immediate needs and another supplemental addressing other projects.

Congress’s preoccupation with “fiscal cliff” matters in the closing days of the current session brings the notion of House consideration and enactment of the legislation before the end of the year into question. Nonetheless, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) signaled late last month the possibility that the House might take up a Sandy relief bill and potentially also legislation to reauthorize the farm bill, if enough Republican votes are secured to guarantee passage.

For additional information on the bill, click here:


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Administrator Jane Lubchenco announced this week that she will exit NOAA at the end of Feb. 2013 after four years of service in one of the Obama administration’s key science agencies.

During her tenure as NOAA administrator, she worked to implement NOAA’s National Ocean Policy, further the agency’s scientific research into climate change and was among the major players in coordinating the federal response to the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster of 2010. While the National Ocean Policy was successfully implemented, the agency’s attempt to coordinate a national climate service was stifled legislatively by House Republicans, namely outgoing House Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairman Ralph Hall (R-TX), a vocal climate science skeptic.

A former president of the Ecological Society of America (ESA) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Lubchenco was among a team of scientists selected by President Obama to head agencies with significant science policy roles, including Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John Holdren, Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Steven Chu, National Science Foundation Director Subra Suresh and United States Geological Survey Director Marsha McNutt. Lubchenco spoke at this year’s ESA Annual Meeting in Portland, Oregon and encouraged scientists to engage with policymakers and even consider public service in policy themselves.

Lubchenco’s departure could be the proverbial tip of the iceberg as presidential administrations elected to a second term often witness a mass exodus of key cabinet officials and bureau chiefs during the transition to a second term. DOE Secretary Chu and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, repeatedly sought after by House Republicans to testify before Congress, are among those on the watch-list for potential departures.

Lubchenco received her Ph.D. in ecology from Harvard University. She taught at Harvard and Oregon State University before being tapped by Obama in Dec. 2008 to head NOAA. A successor has yet to be named.


On Dec. 7, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released a report requesting that the government increase investment in agricultural research in order to cope with a number of environmental changes that affect agriculture in the United States.

The report concludes that the current state of agriculture research remains ill-equipped to address many challenges facing the United States in the 21st Century. The report cites seven major priorities including the “need to manage new pests, pathogens, and invasive plants; increase the efficiency of water use; reduce the environmental footprint of agriculture; adapt to a changing climate; and accommodate demands for bioenergy-all while continuing to produce safe and nutritious food at home and for those in need abroad.”

According to PCAST, the economy has gained at least $10 in benefits for every $1 invested in agricultural research. The report recommends increasing investment in agricultural research by $700 million a year by expanding competitive programs within the Department of Agriculture. It also calls for an increase in the National Science Foundation’s budget for agriculture research and increasing the number of graduate and post-doctoral fellowships awarded to agricultural researchers.

To view the White House press release, click here:

View the full report here:


On Dec. 14, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released new air quality standards for fine particles that come from auto tailpipes, power plants, drilling operations and boilers.

The new fine particle standards lower the limit from 15 micrograms per cubic meter averaged over a year to 12 micrograms. According to EPA, less than 10 counties in the nation will need to consider any local actions to reduce fine particle pollution in order to meet the new standard by 2020, as required by the Clean Air Act. The remainder can rely on air quality improvements from existing federal rules to meet the new standard.

EPA’s existing soot standards were set in 1997. EPA’s science advisers had requested new standards in 2006 during the Bush administration, but the agency elected to let the existing standard remain in effect. After continuous court litigation, spearheaded by the American Lung Association, the National Parks Conservation Association and others, EPA tightened its standards in accordance with a court-ordered deadline.

A number of industry groups, including the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Petroleum Institute, oppose the new rules, asserting that they will hinder economic growth, restricting counties’ abilities to issue permits for new facilities. Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), James Inhofe (R-OK), Rob Portman (R-OH), Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Mike Lee (R-UT) recently sent a letter to EPA urging the agency to maintain the existing standards.

For additional information on the new standard, click here:


On Dec. 6, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it was awarding $1.2 million in environmental justice grants for projects intended to address environmental issues faced by minority and low-income communities.

This year’s grants were awarded to 50 non-profit and tribal organizations in 26 states and Puerto Rico. Projects receiving funding this year include efforts to educate low-income individuals of the dangers of gardening in contaminated soil, improve air quality/ventilation in older homes, promote the use of safe pesticides in low-income housing and promote environmental stewardship in diverse communities. Environmental justice programs seek to bring parity to environmental policy decision-making that includes all races and income levels.

Additional information on EPA’s Environmental Justice Small Grants, including how to apply for the 2013 grants is available here (applications due Jan. 7):

The full list of 2012 grant recipients is available here:


Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Cameron, who collaborated on the first two installments in the Terminator film franchise, are teaming up again – this time in an effort to save the world from the detrimental impacts of climate change.

The two have reunited to produce a documentary series on Showtime in 2013 that will focus on how humans are impacting Earth’s climate. The series, entitled “Years of Living Dangerously” will explore the issue in six to eight one-hour episodes.

Schwarzenegger, signed the nation’s first cap on greenhouse gas emissions during his term as California Governor. He has urged Republicans and Democrats to seek bipartisan solutions to address climate change and continues to promote efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and invest in green jobs through his own non-profit organization, the R20 Regions of Climate Action.

Cameron has been active in several conservation causes and has stated that his recent film “Avatar” was in part a message for humanity to stop damaging the environment. Cameron had also met with Environmental Protection Agency and BP leaders during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The spill was eventually stopped using techniques similar to what Cameron recommended.

No word on whether Linda Hamilton, who starred with Schwarzenegger in the aforementioned films (and is also Cameron’s ex-wife), will cameo in the documentary.


Dates are now set for the Congressional visits events in which recipients of the Ecological Society of America (ESA)’s 2013 Graduate Student Policy Awardees will participate. This annual award, offered to up to three ESA graduate students, provides hands-on science policy experience including interacting with congressional decision-makers, federal agency officials, and others engaged in science and public policy.

GSPA winners participate in the annual Congressional Visits Day, a two-day event that will be held on April 10 and 11, 2013. ESA covers travel and lodging expenses associated with this event for all GSPA recipients. ESA is co-organizer of Congressional Visits Day, sponsored by the Biological Ecological Sciences Coalition to promote federal investment in the biological sciences, particularly through the National Science Foundation.

The application deadline is January 7, 2013. For more information, click here:


Passed Senate

S. 3294, the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2013 – the annual bill reauthorizes Department of Defense (DOD) programs. Among its provisions, it authorizes $150 million in energy conservation projects and includes various reforms to DOD energy and environmental policies. The Senate-passed bill includes provisions to allow the military to invest in alternative energy sources and build commercial-scale biofuel refineries (provisions absent in the House version of the legislation). It passed the Senate Dec. 4 by a vote of 98-0. It is currently in the conference with the House. The House and Senate must pass conference report legislation before it can be sent to the president and signed into law.

Cleared for White House

H.R. 6582, the American Energy Manufacturing Technical Corrections Act – the bill includes several pieces of legislation proposed this Congress to ease federal regulations on the manufacture of freezers, air-conditioners, water heaters and other appliances. According to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the bill’s changes to the Department of Energy appliance efficiency program will reduce national electricity demand 12 percent by 2030. The bill also requires research into how to further deploy energy efficient technologies in the industrial sector. The bill passed the House Dec. 4 by a vote of 398-2 and subsequently passed the Senate by voice vote. The president is expected to sign the measure.

Sources: American Association for the Advancement of Science, Christian Science Monitor, Energy and Environment Daily, E&E News PM, Environmental Protection Agency, Greenwire, the Hill, POLITICO, Senate Appropriations Committee, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the White House


Jigsaw Newsletter: November 2012, Vol. 2 Issue 8.   Photo Credit from EcoEdDL: A herd of alpine ibex (Capra ibex) struggling to move through deep snow by Luciano Ramires

Jigsaw – A technique for Student-Active Learning
Published by the ESA Office of Education and Diversity Programs

November 2012

Vol. 2 Issue 8

Photo Credit from EcoEdDL: A herd of alpine ibex (Capra ibex) struggling to move through deep snow by Luciano Ramires

What’s New in EcoEdDL

Melting Glaciers on Mt. Kilimanjaro  

by Patricia Hackbarth
These images could be used to illustrate the loss of glaciers and snow cover due to warming temperatures and loss of precipitation, especially in tropical regions.


The Life-Discovery – Doing Science Conference
March 15-16, 2013 | St. Paul, Minnesota |
Explore digital resources and new technologies for data exploration and curriculum design for high school and undergraduate biology education.

NEW! Earn Continuing Education Credits
We are excited to offer conference attendees the opportunity to earn one Continuing Education Unit (CEU) for participation in the conference.
Registration is OPEN! Early Bird rates available through 12/15/2012.


SEEDS Update


Support for SEEDS Leadership Meeting
The Mitsubishi Corporation Foundation for the Americas has awarded ESA’s Strategies for Ecology Education, Diversity and Sustainability (SEEDS) a grant to support its Leadership Development program. The SEEDS Leadership Meeting will be held in New Orleans, Louisiana in February 2013 at Dillard University and will focus on ecological recovery and prevention of environmental disasters.

SEEDS Undergraduate Fellowship Program
SEEDS is accepting applications for the 2013-2014 Undergraduate Fellowship opportunity (in anticipation of funding). Each fellow will receive an award valued at more than $12,000 to work on their research from March 2013 through August 2014. Applications are accepted through Friday, December 21, 2012. Minority students are especially encouraged to apply.



PULSE - Partnership for Undergraduate Life Sciences Education
PULSE is looking for Vision & Change Ambassadors to encourage the adoption of the principles and recommendations of the “Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education” report. You can sign up, participate in discussion forums and post relevant events at the Spreading the PULSE site.



Next Generation Science Standards
The release of the second and final public draft of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) is set for the first week in January. For more information, please visit our website at


Reports & Articles



ESA Bulletin (Oct. 2012)
Reflections on the Sustainable Biosphere Initiative SBI + 20 Celebration, Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D. (NOAA Administrator)
Dr. Lubchenco recalls how the SBI set ecology on a new path: stellar science in support of society and the applauds the renewal of SBI through ESA’s Earth Stewardship Initiative.


Center for Excellence in Education

"Beyond Textbooks and Lectures: Digital Game-Based Learning In STEM Subjects"
This paper focuses on the growing movement of digital game-based learning and the empirical evidence surrounding new research. How digital game-based learning can benefit STEM subjects (science, technology, math, and science), simulate intricate, real-world challenges and facilitate higher orders of learning is explored.





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Upcoming Events

FREE Climate Change Continuing Education Symposium
How Success Works: Using case studies to teach systems thinking as a way to approach eco-social problems related to climate change.
Tuesday, 3:00 EDT, December 4, 2012

Life Discovery – Doing Science Education Conference  
Inaugural Biology Education Conference
March 15 – 16, 2013 | St. Paul, MN

American Society for Microbiology Conference for Undergraduate Educators
May 16 – 19, 2013 | Englewood, CO
Registration opens January 1, 2013


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Editorial Board
Education Scholars
Advisory Board

Digital Resource Discovery (DRD) Partners

DRD Advisory Board

Committee for Diversity and Education (CDE)

ESA Education & Diversity programs staff
Teresa Mourad, Director of Education and Diversity Programs
Andrea McMillen, Education Programs Coordinator
Fred Abbott, Diversity Programs Coordinator
Nusrat Mojumder, Diversity Programs Coordinator
Kristin Haas, Education Intern
Yoomee Kim, Education Intern

Education Resource Partners
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