ESA supports young ecologists’ interest in policy through the Society’s annual Graduate Student Policy Award (GSPA).  The competitive award brings graduate students to the nation’s capital to participate in two days of science policy activities, including meetings with congressional offices and briefings with policy experts on how current political and fiscal issues may impact the work of federal agencies and support of ecological research.

ESA’S 2014 Graduate Student Policy Award recipients are Sarah Anderson (Washington State University), Andrew Bingham (Colorado State University), Amber Childress (Colorado State University), Brittany West Marsden (University of Maryland) and Johanna Varner (University of Utah). 

Since 2007, over 20 ESA graduate students have received the GSPA.  Some have gone on to careers that routinely involve policy or public outreach while others have obtained Fellowships through the American Association for the Advancement of Science to work for federal agencies.

The five students will participate in policy training sessions as well as meetings with decision-makers on Capitol Hill on April 9 and 10. The event is sponsored by the Biological Ecological Sciences Coalition, co-chaired by ESA. Additional information on the award recipients is available here.


In advance of a Jan. 14 Senate hearing on the issue of conference and travel spending in the federal government, the Ecological Society of America (ESA) joined a number of scientific societies in sending letters to Capitol Hill highlighting the importance of federal employee participation in science conferences. Referencing ESA’s annual meeting, the letter notes how scientific conferences provide for the open exchange of information that advances scientific innovation and fosters professional development for participants from a variety of backgrounds. View the ESA letter here.

On Dec. 4, the Ecological Society of America joined several hundred national organizations from health, education, research and other communities in sending a letter to Capitol Hill to urge lawmakers to forgo continued cuts to discretionary spending programs. The letter, timed to coincide with the budget negotiation occurring that month, urged lawmakers to replace the sequester cuts with a bipartisan balanced approach to deficit reduction that relieves non-defense discretionary spending (NDD) programs. The eventual agreement on the budget paved the way for a funding bill that brought sequestration relief to a number of federal programs important to the scientific community. View the NDD programs letter here.

On Dec. 2, the Ecological Society of America (ESA) issued a letter to Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics and Chief Scientist Catherine Woteki on the US Department of Agriculture’s draft Research, Education, and Economics (REE) Mission Area Action Plan. In addition to bolstering ecology’s presence in the plan, the letter also calls for a USDA agroecology conference to foster collaboration among the agency, the agroecological research community, farmers, ranchers and other stakeholders. View the full letter here.


ESA invites the leadership of professional societies, nongovernmental organizations, and other groups to send nominations to our Office of Science Programs for scientists to participate in an effort to improve the role of science in international policymaking.

The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES; is a global program intended to strengthen the role of science in decision-making related to the conservation and sustainable management of biodiversity and ecosystem services. For more information, including more details on the expert groups and the application form, click here. If you have questions, please email DEADLINE: Feb. 14, 2014.


The 2nd Life Discovery – Doing Science Education Conference is accepting proposals that address audiences from high school through upper division undergraduate education. The Oct. 14 event in San Diego, CA, is organized by ESA, the Botanical Society of America, the Society for the Study of Evolution and the Society for Economic Botany. Short Sessions are due Feb. 15, 2014. Education Share Fair Roundtables are due Mar. 15, 2014. Additional information is available here.


The ESA Council has voted to establish a new Disease Ecology Section. The section will seek to promote research and education regarding “epidemiology, evolution, and ecology of host-pathogen and host-parasite interactions and disease. The section will hold its first meeting in Sacramento.


DEE BOERSMA (University of Washington) was featured in a New York Times article spotlighting her study on climate change’s impacts on the reproductive success in Magellanic penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus). 

Nature World News and the International Business Times covered a study co-authored by FELICIA COLEMAN (Florida State University) linking overfishing to multifaceted detrimental ecosystem changes.

A study by MATTHEW HURTEAU (Penn State University) stating that increased wildfires will lead to a rise in air pollution and human health issues was covered by ClimateWire and the Canada Free Press.

DIANA PADILLA (Stony Brook University) has been elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for her scientific and social efforts to advance science or its applications. She will be among 388 newly elected members honored at the Feb. 14 AAAS annual meeting in Chicago.

ELLEN PIKITCH (Stony Brook University) testified during a recent House Natural Resources Committee hearing examining legislative proposals to reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

LISA SCHULTE-MOORE (Iowa State University) contributed a guest post to EcoTone expanding on her experience volunteering for ESA’s first Science Café.

See your work featured in the Spring edition of ESA in Action!

Send highlights of your work engaging in policy, with the media or related activities to ESA’s Public Affairs Office at

'Follow' ESA activities on Twitter, Facebook

Keep track of science and policy developments, news about your fellow ecologists and join the conversation through our Facebook page and twitter. Our Facebook page has reached 3,600 “likes” and we have over 10,500 followers on Twitter.


Opportunities to share your insights

EcoTone: ESA's blog welcomes guest contributions. For more information, contact ESA Communications Officer, Liza Lester:


Field Talk features the field experiences of ecologists, including the work of those who have been published in the Society's journals. For more information, contact Liza Lester:

The Ecologist Goes to Washington podcast provides a venue to communicate experiences in public policy. For more information, contact ESA Science Policy Analyst, Terence Houston:

ESA’s 2013 Annual Report is now online!  

Here is a summary of some of the highlights over the past year:

  • A new online-only open access special issue of Frontiers.
  • New reports on interdisciplinary approaches to Earth stewardship and the relation between predatory species abundance and prevalence of zoonotic diseases.
  • ESA’s first Science Café.
  • Workshops and briefings on issues of concern to the ecological community.

Thank you for being an ESA member.  Your participation in our Society makes ESA’s accomplishments possible.

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