2009 SEEDS Leadership Meeting, “The Culture and Future of Ecology”
Participants in the 2009 SEEDS Leadership Meeting shared eloquently about their own culture, how this shapes the way they take part in a culture of science and academia, and indeed how they currently lead or hope to lead in the future. The meeting was a great success with 23 SEEDS student and alumni leaders participating from all aspects of the SEEDS program. Workshops, discussions, breakout groups, and a field trip were led by the students themselves, collaborators of NCEAS, NEON, LTERs, and our own ESA President Sunny Power.
The meeting unfolded to provide a variety of opportunities where the leadership torch was passed and shared among SEEDS participants, local and national collaborators. We began with an introduction to New Mexico and the Sevilleta LTER by Jolene Trujillo1, Will Pockman2, and Jennifer Johnson2. The student planning committee then provided their insights on the process of identifying the meeting theme, the culture and future of ecology, and corresponding itinerary.
Excellent and engaging workshops were given by SEEDS students and alumni: “The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment: what it is and why every ecologist should know about it” – Christina Wong1 and Jolene Trujillo1; “Combining ecological research and community outreach” – Ana Elisa Perez3 and Raynelle Rino4; in addition to a virtual workshop on “Opportunities that take you far from home” – Andrea Rivera5 and Jorge Ramos6.
In addition, several ESA members traveled to our meeting site and shared their ideas on the culture and future of ecology. Margaret Connors and Carlos Melian of the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) illuminated the complexity of the concept of synthesis, and discussed opportunities available through NCEAS to connect researchers to tackle large-scale ecological questions. Debra Peters of the New Mexico State University Jornada LTER discussed the role of LTERs and the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) in the future ecology profession. ESA President, Sunny Power of Cornell University participated in our SEEDS leadership forum, shared her personal insights on leadership, and even went on a sunset hike with SEEDS students.
The meeting was rounded out with a career panel discussion with Sevilleta scientists Robert Sinsabaugh and Andrea Porras-Alfaro, in addition to NCEAS post-doc Carlos Melian and SEEDS Advisory Board member Christina Wong. An afternoon field trip to Cibola Springs to tour the field site of SEEDS fellow Jarrod Blue7 helped root us to the high desert ecosystem hosting our meeting.
A great strength to the meeting, in addition to the student-generated itinerary, was the fact that every single person shared during our discussions. This conscious effort was carried out by staff and students alike, and the assurance that the ideas of all were on the table enabled tremendous strength in resulting efforts.
So great was the energy, that many brand new initiatives were created, and previous efforts solidified. Four student breakout groups made excellent progress on (1) SEEDS Chapter collaboration through an Earth Week Bioblitz and vegetation monitoring projects of the National Phenology Network (NPN), (2) the SEEDS Network for Alumni and Professionals (SNAP) was formally created to continue the SEEDS spirit for those who have graduated with Raynelle Rino as its first President, (3) the continued leadership of the SEEDS Education and Outreach Initiative (SEOI) where SEEDS students sponsor a field trip for the local teachers and students of communities that host our ESA meetings, and (4) sound ideas on the role, risks, and opportunities for synthesis in science. SEEDS students will prepare a written summary of the meeting, with a goal of publishing the proceedings in the July ESA Bulletin.
1 Arizona State University
2 University of New Mexico
3 University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras
4 San Francisco State University
5 University of Plymouth/University of Cadiz
6 University of Washington
7 University of Tennessee, Knoxville