Building a community that thrives online

Sandra Chung knows social media. As a communications specialist for the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) she handles all things multimedia, including spearheading NEON’s Twitter feed (@NEONinc, with Jennifer Walton), and Facebook page. Last week, Sandra wrote about the power of Twitter to open up a meeting (the Ecological Society of America’s 97th annual meeting, to wit) and start conversations both in the moment, and in the fallow days following the intense social mixer and heavy data-dump of the event. Here’s a sample: For a few days in early August, the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America (ESA) was a hot topic on Twitter. I know that because #ESA2012 was trending (right). There among the Internet memes and celebrity names was #ESA2012, a hashtag code that Twitter users used to flag tweets related to the meeting. One of the hottest social media topics of the day was a scientific meeting. It wasn’t the first time that it happened, and it won’t be the last. …continue reading “Building a community that thrives online, offline and after the meeting” at NEON Notes. At ESA2012, Sandra teamed up with paleoecology postdoc and blogger @JacquelynGill to present a workshop on “Social Media for Collaboration, Outreach and Impact.” The duo covered the basics of Twitter operations and online etiquette, and delved into more complex questions with their audience, like how to engage personably while tweeting under the aegis of an organization. If you missed the workshop, flip through their slides, embedded in Sandra’s NEON Notes post, for an overview.  But to get the whole story, you really had to be there as Jacquelyn and Sandra passed the lead seamlessly back and forth, fielding continuous questions and comments from the audience (corporeal and Twitter-projected) in the best unconference style, and making this feat of facilitation seem easy. The conversation is ongoing. Check it out at #ESA2012. Find more Portland 2012 blog highlights under EcoTone’s ESA2012...

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Watching the river flow – the complex effect of stream variability on Bristol Bay’s wildlife

Sylvia Fallon, a Senior Scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, blogged about ecosystem dynamics and the key role of salmon in Alaska’s Bristol Bay watershed last week, in a post inspired by Peter Lisi’s presentation at ESA’s 2012 annual meeting in Portland. Peter is a postdoc in Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle. Here’s an excerpt from Sylvia’s post: Bristol Bay in southwest Alaska supports the world’s greatest wild salmon fishery.  And now scientists have a new understanding why: water temperature and stream flow.   Variation in the temperature and flow of streams is key to supporting not just Bristol Bay’s prolific salmon populations, but also the area’s immense wildlife diversity from bears to birds to plants, according to new research presented this week at the Ecological Society of America meetings in Portland, Oregon.  Working in the Wood River watershed of Southwest Alaska, scientists found that the diversity of stream conditions results in salmon that spawn at different times throughout the season, thereby extending the time that predators and scavengers can feast on this important food supply. …continue reading “Watching the river flow – the complex effect of stream variability on Bristol Bay’s wildlife” on Sylvia’s NRDC blog. In addition to speaking in a symposium on “The Evolving Role of Environmental Scientists in Informing Sustainable Ecosystem Policy and Management” at ESA2012, Sylvia delivered a lunchtime address to ESA’s Rapid Response Team, advising them on her area of expertise, policy engagement. In the early 2000’s, ESA assembled a diverse group of ecologists from agencies, academia and other research environments, who agreed to be on call to reporters and policy makers for expert information on rapidly evolving events of with ecological ramifications — events like the 2010 BP oil spill and hurricane Katrina. But the Team is not just for breaking news. They are also on hand (or on the other end of a phone) to provide ecological context and background on biofuels, climate change, agriculture, forests and fisheries. The Team’s membership turns over every few years to bring in new blood and give longer functioning members a break. Rapid Response Team scientists, and ESA members at large, are also encouraged to reach out to media and legislators before being asked. Fish & Wildlife and other government agencies, for example, typically have public comment periods for policy proposals. Sylvia urged the Team not to underestimate the power of commentary from independent scientists. “In these situations, my association with an environmental advocacy group does tend to compromise my credentials,” she said. During comment periods she often reaches out to scientific community to submit comments, “begging, will you comment, have you...

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An Interconnection of Ecologists (#ESA2012)

Bruce Byers wrote up his impressions of the recent ESA Annual Meeting in a recent blog post: 12th of August, 2012. Old English is full of “terms of venery,” words for groups of animals: a pod of whales, a pack of wolves, a herd of deer, a gaggle of geese, a murder of crows, a pride of lions, a leap of leopards, a kettle of hawks, a parliament of owls. Most of these terms tried to say something about the behavior of the species they described. Many are quite poetic, most have fallen into disuse; but thanks to the wonderful book “An Exaltation of Larks,” by James Lipton, we have access to this old flock of words. For a week in early August, five thousand ecologists met in Portland, Oregon, and talked about how everything is interconnected. It was an interconnection of ecologists. Continue reading  “An Interconnection of Ecologists (#ESA2012) at Bruce’s blog Tales from the...

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ESA session showcases minority outreach opportunities

This post contributed by Terence Houston, ESA Science Policy Analyst During the Ecological Society America’s (ESA) 2012 annual meeting in Portland, an organized oral session showcased several programs and initiatives that work to expand ecological education and job opportunities for the nation’s underrepresented minorities.  During the session “Increasing Representation of Minorities in Ecology: What Works?” attendees heard from professors, students, federal agency and staff from the Ecological Society of America on programs that successfully engage minority groups in the field of ecology. Deborah Goldberg, from the University of Michigan’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB), talked about the work her university is doing to increase recruitment and retention of a more diverse student body. This work includes the Frontiers Masters Program, a National Science Foundation (NSF) initiative that seeks to bring graduate students into the field of ecology and evolution who might not otherwise consider it. Since the program’s inception in 2008, several students have moved on to EEB’s doctoral program. William Van Lopik of the College of the Menominee Nation in Keshena, Wisconsin discussed the role US tribal colleges–attended primarily by Native American students–play in providing a unique research perspective to the broader ecological community. Several speakers, including Talia Young with Rutgers University and Luben Dimov with Alabama A&M University noted the importance of mentoring. Dimov also discussed his research on the success of NSF’s Undergraduate Research and Mentoring in the Biological Sciences program. Young noted how 21st Century social media communications, including cell phone texting and Facebook have played a key role in helping her to stay in touch with the high school students she mentors. Teresa Mourad, Director of ESA’s Diversity and Education Programs, and Melissa Armstrong of Northern Arizona University, discussed ESA’s Strategies for Ecology Education, Diversity and Sustainability (SEEDS) program, which, among its many activities, has provided ecological field trips and undergraduate research fellowships to promote student participation and engagement with the broader ecological community. SEEDS’s achievements have been recognized at the national level as the program was the 2006 recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring. Jeramie Strickland discussed how his participation in SEEDS and other diversity programs eventually helped him land his current position as a wildlife biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Strickland also mentors with the Minorities Striving and Pursuing Higher Degrees of Success in Earth System Science program and the Turtle Camp Research and Education in Ecology program, which receives support from ESA and NSF. During the Q & A portion of the session, one audience member asked whether ESA would be better served to invest in students who are already the “best...

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Reflections on the keynote by Jerry Franklin (#ESA2012)

Joern Fischer is back with blog post on Jerry Franklin’s Monday morning plenary talk, “Forests, Fish, Owls, Volcanoes . . . and People: Reflections on fifty years of accumulated ecological knowledge and its application to policy.” Jerry Franklin just gave a very inspiring keynote address, on his favourite topic, the forests of the northwest of the US. This was one of the most beautiful speeches I have heard in some time – mostly because Jerry shines with such a genuine passion for ‘his forests’, and a genuine humility. It is clear that Jerry is out for the forests; not for himself. This is what people feel; it is the difference between a keynote by someone who is clever and somebody who is wise. The audience appreciated it, and gave Jerry a standing ovation. What kinds of topics did Jerry cover? …continue reading “Reflections on the keynote by Jerry Franklin (#ESA2012)” at Joern’s blog Ideas for...

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ESA and Twitter – Sunday

Computational ecologist Ted Hart is in Portland (OR), blogging ESA’s annual meeting at Dynamic Ecology. Here’s an excerpt from his Sunday post–thanks for sharing, Ted! In 2007 at ESA I and two other people were using twitter. Back then I didn’t understand it and had to ask what hashtags were. I gave up on twitter until 2010 and now with a new handle I think I finally get it. One of my favorite things to do with twitter is text mine it. So here’s a word cloud of the 745 tweets with the #ESA2012 tag from Sunday. Clearly Jane Lubchenco and the plenary sessions were on lots of people’s minds. …continue reading “ESA and Twitter — Sunday,” and check out Ted’s Monday talk itinerary at his blog Distributed Ecology. Follow Ted on twitter at...

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Lubchenco: “This is the time of ecology”

By Terence Houston, ESA science policy analyst During the opening plenary of ESA’s 97th Annual Meeting, attendees witnessed firsthand the power individuals working together have to make things happen in their communities. The plenary kicked off with the presentation of the Society’s 2012 Regional Policy Award to Ken Bierly of the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board who was “greatly honored” and “deeply appreciative” of the award. Bierly thanked a host of individuals he had worked with who played a pivotal role in “helping us to manage our environment in a meaningful way.” His work on freshwater resources in the state of Oregon has helped to restore marshes and streams as well as protect water quality in rivers and streams, which help sustain fish and wildlife habitat and preserve natural resources that human communities depend on. The  keynote address was given by Jane Lubchenco, Administrator for the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  Lubchenco asserted that “this is the time of ecology.”  Referring to scientists who are engaged in policy, Lubchenco likened the process to a relay race where scientists ‘pass the baton’ to one another, noting that this is necessary to sustain engagement and community networking over time.  Lubchenco dedicated her presentation to Elinor Ostrom who once stated “the goal now must be to  build sustainability into the DNA of our globally interconnected society. Time is the natural resource in shortest supply.”  Although Ostrom was an economist,  Lubchenco cited her as “an ecologist by thinking,” and discussed how her research highlighted how ordinary people working collectively could be successful in driving positive change in their communities. In her speech, Lubchenco outlined NOAA’s many initiatives, including a National Ocean Policy that streamlines the responsibilities of several dozen federal bureaus, restoration of the Gulf of Mexico, fisheries management that is influenced by science, and a climate adaption strategy to help mitigate impacts of climate change. She further noted that, during her tenure, the agency has reformed the National Climate Assessment to increase public input. There is also legislation underway to reestablish a Chief Scientist at NOAA, who could be appointed without Senate confirmation, a condition that has left the position vacant for the past 16 years. Noting that NOAA is the nation’s oldest scientific agency in the federal government, Lubchenco touted NOAA’s position as being at the forefront of agencies that use science to inform policy. Lubchenco mentioned that the agency has begun work on its own scientific integrity policy before the president issued his call for all federal agencies to promote scientific integrity throughout the executive branch.  She also touted the importance of “use-inspired research” that has tangible and direct benefits to communities and asserted that...

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Heads up for ESA Portland!

During ESA’s 2012 annual meeting in Portland, Oregon, next week, EcoTone will be highlighting blog posts from meeting participants. Joern Fischer of Leuphana Universität, Lüneburg, gets the jump on the conference coverage today with a post at his blog Ideas for Sustainability, excerpted below.  I’ll be a the Ecological Society of America Meeting in Portland next week! And I intend to blog about it, with a random bias towards whatever I find interesting. This, most likely, will mean I’ll comment on conservation and sustainability issues being discussed; and who knows, perhaps I’ll feel the urge to have random rants about the uselessness of mega-conferences (you never know…); or I might complain about jet fuel being senselessly burned in the name of science. Myself, I’ll be presenting in a symposium on “Human behavior and sustainability” — details here. I have thought more than once that flying to this thing to talk about how we need behaviour change is a complete load of crap (excuse me) — and I doubt I’ll get over this feeling. So, this time, I will go, for various reasons, but the irony is certainly not lost on me. The symposium is loosely based on a paper I led with Robert Dyball, which you can find here. Rob is coordinating the symposium. See you at the ESA, perhaps! …continue reading “Measuring academic activity — and heads up for ESA Portland!” at Joern’s blog Ideas for Sustainability. Follow Joern on Twitter @ideas4sust Have an ESA2012 blog post you want to share? Email Liza: llester [at] esa [dot]...

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