Minutes of the ESA Governing Board
May 17-18, 2010
Members Present: Mary Power (President), Sunny Power (Past-President), Terry Chapin (Past-President-Elect), David Inouye (Secretary), Josh Schimel (Member-at-Large), Laura Huenneke (VP for Public Affairs), Bill Parton (VP for Finance), Emily Stanley (Member-at-Large), Rob Jackson (VP for Science). Guest – Charles Canham, Secretary-Elect.
Katherine McCarter (Executive Director), Cliff Duke (Director of Science), Elizabeth Biggs (Director of Finance), Sue Silver (Editor), Nadine Lymn (Director of Public Affairs), David Baldwin (Publications). Teresa Mourad (Education and Diversity) joined the meeting after lunch on Tuesday.
Monday 17 May 2010. 9:00 meeting is called to order.
I. Roll Call & Agenda
- The Governing Board unanimously adopted the proposed agenda.
- The minutes from November 2009 were unanimously adopted.
- The Climate Statement (approved previously by e-mail) was ratified.
- Report of President Power
- She had a wonderful time at the SEEDS retreat, was impressed with the setting, agenda, science, and students. There is a lot of mentoring of younger students by the older students students and recently fledged young professionals. SEEDS folk have initiated “SNAPS”, SEEDS Network of Alumni and Professionals” to capture and focus the intense intergenerational loyalty inspired by the program. The SEEDS retreat participants also visited the REAL School, a science program for under-served re-entry students at Redwood High School in the South Bay, led by Cynthia Wilber and Rudolfo Dirzo.
- ESA reaction to the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Mary contacted Student Section chair Rob Salguero Gomez (at U. Pennsylvania), who contacted a SEEDS leader (and alum), graduate student (Jorgé Ramos at University of Washington). Power suggested that they help organize background information useful to ecologists and managers on the front line of the spill, and she put them in touch with colleagues in Florida and Louisiana, (Felicia Coleman and Robert Twilley, respectively, both of whom serve on ESA’s Rapid Response Team for the BP Spill. Rob and Jorge seized the initiative and, with help from the Univ. of California Natural Reserve System and ESA Web master Zaw Aung, are organizing an online searchable metadata database of previous field research in coastal areas that are or may be affected by the ongoing oil spill. Rob and Jorge’s leadership here has been inspiring. The Ecological Archives might be an appropriate home for this database, which should prove useful for scientists and managers dealing with the aftermath of the spill over the coming decades.
- Bill Mitsch, leading the Consortium for Aquatic Science Societies, invited ESA to join in their planned EcoSummit in Columbus, Ohio in 2012, which is still under discussion.
An ESA media advisory went out the day after the BP oil rig accident letting the Press know about Rapid Response Team members who could be resources.
There may be an opportunity for ESA members in the damage assessment process, based on experience of the Exxon Valdez experience. Maybe an article in Frontiers about legal aspects of specimens used for evidence would be appropriate.
The luncheon for Rapid Response Team members at the Annual Meeting would be a good opportunity for getting feedback from RRT members about how ESA can help them when they are called upon for their expertise.
There may be an opportunity to get out messages about the long-term ecological consequences of the spill, and the cost of cleaning up the accident compared to funding for renewable (or clean) energy sources. Why are we in reactionary rather than proactive mode so often with high-impact, low probability events?
- Report of Executive Director McCarter and the Office Staff
- Things are looking stable for this year in terms of library subscriptions, and the slight decline in membership was expected. Exciting events include planning for the new journal, Ecosphere. The Development Committee met and we’ll consider their report at this meeting. Cliff and Katherine met with Ford Foundation recently to explore possible funding ideas.
- Cliff Duke – Printed copies of the new Issues in Ecology, about carbon sequestration, should be available later today (it’s already available on the ESA Web site). Four documents are available now from the Biofuels conference, and a fifth (synthesis) is in preparation.
- Teresa Mourad – She is looking forward to the 2011 SEEDS annual meeting in Washington state. Packard Foundation approached her about applying for a $150,000 grant from internal funding from their grants officers. She’s trying to develop new contacts within Dept. of Interior (facilitated in part by a SEEDS alumna). There will be a summer institute in NC related to forest ecology that will include SEEDS students. New projects include a climate change education partnership (working with Terry Chapin), focused on pre-service students (undergraduate students training to be teachers). Another new project is to upgrade education resources that can be shared (images, tables, data, syllabi), and a data visualization tool. TNC received funding from the Toyota Foundation for their urban youth program, to create a network of environmentally-themed high schools, starting with one in New York City, and asked the ESA Education program to start working with them 1 June. Some of the teachers will attend the Annual Meeting. A green jobs fair will be one sub-project.
- Nadine Lymn – Katie Kline, new Communications Officer, has continued development of the EcoTone blog. Piper Corp is entering a Ph.D. program in scientific rhetoric after the Annual Meeting.
- Liz Biggs – we are still financially stable, in part thanks to the library subscriptions remaining flat (we had budgeted for a decline). Membership is down about 5% over the past year. Estimate is that 3,200 will register for the Annual Meeting.
- Sue Silver – has commissioned an editorial for the June issue about the Gulf oil spill. August issue of Frontiers will be the special issue about scientific communication about environmental controversies. The backlog is declining, due to the >84% rejection rate (70% without review). Page charges are now being charged for papers starting this year (except for commissioned papers and Special Issues that are funded). The journal is on track to be self-sustaining in another two years (10 years after starting it). The option of accepting papers that would only be published electronically was considered but rejected, in part because readers (even students) said they were less likely to read electronic-only articles (a model that American Naturalist has tried).
- David Baldwin – The increased rejection rate has led to a decline since the last Annual Meeting from 11 months to 6.5 months in the publication lag. Both May issues of Monographs and Ecology are out. They have hired a new person (Ellen Cotter) to help shepherd the new journal into implementation.
- Report of Vice President for Finance
- First Quarter Financials (Parton and McCarter)
The budget is in good shape at present ($348,000 in the black), and we expect the fiscal year to end with a positive balance. As of a few weeks ago our investments (with Townley Investment) were back up to where they were two years ago.
- Planetary Stewardship (Power/Chapin)
Mary solicited 11 people to write about their individual projects promoting planetary stewardship at local to regional scales for the current issue of the Bulletin, and all followed through, providing the 11 boxed reports in the current article. An ongoing ESA Bulletin form is being planned and Ed Johnson is considering steps to have sections for this forum peer reviewed.
The larger goal is to turn around society’s relationship with the environment. How can ESA foster this? Mobilizing members through sections and section leadership is one opportunity. The Council meeting may be a venue to encourage this. There may be opportunities for the ESA staff to identify appropriate projects.
III. Discussion / Action Items
- Report of the Audit Committee (Jackson/Schimel (Stanley was sick))
A few minor issues were flagged by the accounting company, and in general they were complimentary about the Society’s bookkeeping practices.
A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: The Board approves the report of the Audit Committee.
- Proposed 2010-2011 ESA Budget (Parton/McCarter/Biggs)
- Budget and Budget Assumptions
The proposed budget anticipates a balanced budget for the Fiscal Year 2010-2011. Assumptions include a projected 5% drop in membership in 2010 (there was discussion about what is behind this drop and how to reverse it) but membership is expected to remain flat in 2011, that dues will increase by 2%, library subscriptions will remain flat in 2011 (with 30% begin on-line only), and there will be a 15% drop in member subscriptions. Income and expenses for the new journal have been included, and an estimate for income from the Annual Meeting has been generated. There are no capital expenses projected, and a $50,000 commitment to the reserve fund is included. There is a 2% cost-of-living and 2% merit pool for staff. A contract for development of a Planned Giving Program is included ($2,000). Expenses for Governing Board meetings at the Annual Meeting, a President’s budget, travel ($1,000) for Council of Scientific Society Presidents meeting, and one meeting each for five committees are budgeted. The Board compliments the staff for keeping the Society in such good fiscal health.
2. Proposal for the Board Strategic Initiatives funds
There was discussion about the idea of providing free registration to the Annual Meeting for speakers who are invited to make presentations. Historically a few waivers are granted every year, primarily for people who would not otherwise come to the meeting.
The Historical Records Committee has asked for funding for a meeting, as they start to prepare for the Centennial. The request for sending a Board member to the South American chapter meeting in Brazil next August could fall into this funding category.
A follow-up in a few years of the ecological effects of the Gulf oil spill, maybe in conjunction with a 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez spill, could be a possibility of future use of this funding category. Maybe an Issues in Ecology in the next year or two; assumptions about how best to deal with a large oil spill are being used for management decisions, but are the lessons from previous spills being incorporated?
There is some support for the idea of letting funds accumulate for a future larger expenditure.
Follow-up to strategic planning discussions might be another possibility.
Break for lunch.
- Fund for the Future (Parton)
The Development Committee met a few weeks ago to discuss plans for the Fund. A couple of Committee members who are former Board members suggested they would like to have an option of giving unrestricted money, rather than just designated for student travel or SEEDS, and suggested adding an “Opportunity Fund” option under the Fund for the Future.
A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: The Board approves the addition of the “Opportunity Fund” as a third option within the Fund for the Future.
- Sustainable Business Plan (Schimel)
The Sustainable Business Plan Working Group has four suggestions for the Board:
- Develop open-access author-pays journals (already underway with Ecosphere);
- Conduct small conferences that generate revenue;
- Produce Webinar programs, perhaps related to conferences or public affairs training;
- Broaden the membership base, perhaps to NGO or other non-academic groups.
The survey sent to student members did not result in any particularly good insights.
Are there some sub-disciplines that the ESA has lost from its membership and journals? Who would be good point people to contact/increase those audiences? Could small conferences be targeted both for making money and for broadening our membership?
Is there a way to use the idea of certification (attractive to students) to provide content for a price? What audiences have continuing education requirements? E.g., pesticide applicators, land use/zoning boards. Sue Silver’s seminars on how to publish in scientific journals have been successful in Asia, and she recently presented one to a group of about 45 postdocs and graduate students at Virginia Tech.
- Emerging Issues Conference [minutes recorded by Canham as Inouye had a conflict]
Two proposals received very positive reviews, and the committee felt that each, with some modification, could lead to successful conferences. There was discussion of two options (a) to request revised proposals from both groups, or (b) to select one now, but still request revisions to that proposal. Discussion favored option (b) to avoid delays.
Committee and staff were encouraged by the quality of all 5 proposals. There was discussion of the format of the proposals, and whether more detail should be allowed/provided. The current format was considered suitable.
The Board will ask for clarification from Blossey and Sax about several issues related to both content and organization, but pending satisfactory responses from them, supports their proposal for the next Emerging Issues Conference. The Board will ask Committee Chair Monica Turner to compose the letter to Blossey and Sax, and letters to the authors of the other proposals, based on the language in the committee report. Bronstein et al., in particular, should be encouraged to resubmit this proposal next time; that topic might also be a good symposium at an Annual Meeting.
There needs to be a member of the Governing Board as a member of the organizing committee.
Incoming VP for Science Deb Peters will be asked to serve in this role.
- Public Affairs Committee mid-term review (Huenneke/Lymn)
Committee membership has been quite stable in recent years, and has included Laura Huenneke as Chair, Angela Bednarek, Cheryl Dybas, David Goldston, Liz Harp, and Marcia Wolfe. Efforts are under way to recruit a few new members now (e.g., Marcia Wolfe, from the consulting arena).
Recent activities have included:
- Reviewed two ESA position statements
- Ecological Impacts of Economic Activity (2009); which had unique challenges and time requirements
- Ecosystem management in a Changing Climate (2010)
- Joint meeting with ESA Science Committee
- Identified newsworthy Annual Meeting abstracts
- Sponsored symposium (2009)
- Global sustainability in the face of uncertainty: How to translate more effectively Ecological Knowledge to Policy Makers, Managers, and the Public
- Opening Plenary – selecting and facilitating speaker
2009 Sandra Postel, Director, Global Water Policy Project “Strategies to sustain Earth’s freshwater ecosystems”
- ESA Regional Policy Award
2009 Senator Tom Udall (D-NM)
“For outstanding record of informing decision-making with ecological science”
- ESA Policy Handbooks
- Goal is to help ecologists identify opportunities to connect their knowledge to public issues
- Will include chapters on:
- General “how-tos” & resources
- Opportunities to interact with the media
- White House and federal agencies
- Review of major environmental legislation
- State level
- ESA member anecdotes
Observations and Opportunities (Huenneke)
- Greater cooperation and coordination with Science Office and Science Committee
- Potential engagement of broader membership in direct action on policy (Brad Smith, ACS, guest at PAC meeting) – ACS uses social media in many ways now with its membership, e.g., getting them to contact elected representatives.
- SEEDS students incorporating policy engagement as an element in Leadership Retreats
- Private sector potentially crucial arena for engagement, but no point of contact yet.
Public Affairs Office (Lymn)
Nadine Lymn, Director
Piper Corp, Science Policy Analyst
Katie Kline, Communications Officer
Public Affairs Office Media and policy activities often feature contributions and participation by ESA’s Rapid Response Teams.
Field talk (podcast)
Press room at annual meeting
Ecologist goes to WA (podcast)
Cong. briefings & field trips
Letters & Action Alerts
The Ecologist Moves to Washington – Making Science Policy a Career
An example of introduction to a podcast: Some ecologists have taken time from their academic work to share their share their expertise with policymakers; others have made a career out of it. Four years ago, Dr. Jay Gulledge left academia to join the Pew Center on Global Climate Change as the Senior Scientist and Program Manager for Science and Impacts. Here he discusses the transition and the range of options that DC offers for promoting and disseminating science.
Public Affairs podcasts: Field Talk
An example of a Field Talk podcast: Arctic shrubs looming large: Climate change and tundra productivity
EcoTone – the ESA blog
In April 2009, the blog received an average of 387 unique visitors and 2,491 page views per day. This April it averaged 636 visitors and 4,135 page views daily, about a 60% increase in overall traffic.
Press Releases: Top Hits with Media
- Ecologists Identify Birds Struck in Hudson River Crash as Migratory Canada Geese (FIEE)
- Transporting Juvenile Salmon Hinders Adult Migration (EA)
- Ecologists Propose First Prevention for White-nose Syndrome Death in Bats (FIEE)
- Declining Alaskan Sea Otters Affect Bald Eagles’ Diet (ECOL)
- Polarized Light Pollution Leads Animals Astray (FIEE)
- Fake cod article from FIEE is the current hot topic.
BBC World News, Science, The New York Times, Associated Press, Reuters, CNN, LA Times, Denver Post, Scientific American, Discovery News, National Geographic News, and many others.
Letters, Action Alerts, Policy News Updates
- About a dozen letters on topics of importance to ecological community from science collections to water planning
- Action alerts to targeted members ranging from pending legislation to assisting with Gulf oil disaster assessments
- ESA Policy News on key environmental policy developments
About a dozen letters on topics of importance to ecological community from science collections to water planning
Action alerts to targeted members ranging from pending legislation to assisting with Gulf oil disaster assessments
ESA Policy News on key environmental policy developments
Briefings and Field Trips
Water resources in the West (2009)
Environmental Observatories (2009) with NEON, inc.
Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation (2010) with AAAS and other organizations
Policy and Media Training
e.g., session last summer at the Annual Meeting with a panel of media experts who gave feedback to participants as they pitched their research to the panel. It was popular, and will be repeated this summer.
A growing number of scientific groups are asking for help with media training. (There could be some opportunity to generate income doing this.)
ESA Graduate Student Policy Awards
Two to four graduate students are brought to Washington, DC each year for training and to make visits to Capitol Hill.
Congressional field trip to Baltimore Ecosystem study, June 2010 (hosted by President-Elect Pickett)
Policy & Media Training (e.g., for some of the ESA Board later this week)
Possible event associated with Gulf oil disaster
Rapid Response Team
Continues to be a great resource for the PAO.
- Regional Policy Award (Huenneke / Lymn)
Two nominees were tied for the third annual Regional Policy Award and the Board reviewed the details of both nominees: A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: The Board approves the choice of Mayor Fetterman to receive the Regional Policy Award.
- Natural History Section
A petition with 92 signatures (two of which were duplicates and 43 of which turned out not to be ESA members, but have been solicited by Secretary Inouye to join) was received. Four additional Board members added their names so the requisite 50 votes were received. A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: The Board agrees to send the proposal for the new Section to the Council at the Annual Meeting.
- EcoSummit 2012
The meeting is proposed for September 30 – 5 October 2012, in Columbus, Ohio. This would be the 4th EcoSummit, and ESA had a presence at the previous one in China. Bill Mitsch is Program Chair and has approached ESA to explore a possible role, which could include being on the planning committee or serving as the US host. There was discussion about the potential costs and benefits of participation. It was pointed out that 8 of the 12 members of the International Scientific Committee are editors of Elsevier journals. Mary Power, Terry Chapin and Katherine McCarter will call Mitsch with a request for some additional information about details of the proposed partnership. Alan Covich, a member of their Scientific Committee, will also be asked for an opinion.
- Report of the Awards Committee
A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: The Board approves the list of award nominations from the ESA Awards Committee.
- New Journal
We now have a hold with the Library of Congress on the name “Ecosphere”.
A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: The Board approves name Ecosphere for the new electronic journal.
A ‘cover page’ for the journal has been designed to add to the Publications Web landing page. The mission statement has been refined:
The Scope of the new journal is as broad as the science of ecology itself. The journal welcomes submissions from all sub-disciplines of ecology and interdisciplinary studies. The journal’s goal is to provide a rapid-publication, online-only, open access alternative to ESA’s other journals, while maintaining the rigorous standards of peer review for which ESA publications are renowned.
There will be volume numbers but page numbering will start with 1 for each paper. The editor(s) will probably continue to reject some submissions without review. A call for papers will be issued at the next Annual Meeting. We hope to have an Editor-in-Chief chosen by the fall, as new submissions start to arrive (the first papers will be drawn from the existing pool of accepted papers from the other ESA journals). Don Strong will serve as Interim Editor-in-Chief, to get the journal up and running.
Given that we will be encouraging all authors of papers in Ecosphere to become ESA members (through the reduced publication fee for members), we should consider the expense of mailing Frontiers to a large number of international members (anticipating that there will be many international authors submitting papers). A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: Beginning in 2011 we will provide Frontiers to international members of the ESA via free online access.
Publications office is having weekly meetings about the new journal, and meetings are also set up with other people and organizations (e.g., Allen Press) that will be involved. A two-page flow chart of steps that need to be taken in this process, with target dates, has been created. New servers have been delivered, EcoTrack software is being installed now by Allen Press, and they will be ready soon. Discussions are underway with Thompson-Reuters about getting the journal indexed ASAP, with an eye toward having an impact factor generated in three years. The plan is to publish the first papers in July, with an official launch and call for papers at the Annual Meeting. The Public Affairs Office has made plans to send announcements to ESA members, issue press releases, ESA will also have a table at the ESA booth at the Annual Meeting, notify institutional subscribers, host a reception at the ESA Headquarters, etc.
- Board Vacancy
A vacancy for a Member-at-Large on the Board has been created by Deb Peters’ move to Vice President for Science. The Board asked the two current members who will leave the Board this year if they would be willing to extend their service another year, and both agreed. Josh Schimel was selected to fill the vacancy.
- Annual Meeting Issues
A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: Lee Frelich is approved as Local Host for the 2013 Annual Meeting, and thanked for his willingness to serve.
The Local Host for the Pittsburgh Annual Meeting has recommended designating the Center for Sustainable Landscapes Development Fund at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanic Garden as recipient for funding from the carbon offset project. A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: The Board approves the recommendation from the Pittsburg Local Hosts to designate the Center for Sustainable Landscapes Development Fund at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanic Garden as recipient for funding from the carbon offset project.
After some discussion about carbon offset funding:
A motion is moved, seconded, and approved with one vote against, to reallocate all of the carbon offset funding to the choice of the local hosts, rather than splitting it between the local choice and national groups. The current national groups will be reviewed in August when the issue will be revisited for the 2011 annual meeting.
- Report of the Nominations Committee (Sunny Power)
Garth Redfield, Andrew Burton, Janet McFall, and Kenneth Klemow have agreed to run for the Board of Professional Certification. The remainder of the slate is currently incomplete, and will be announced soon (and future Past-Presidents are warned to start early on the task of assembling a slate of nominees!).
- South America Chapter Request for Support
South America Chapter Chair, Juan Armesto, has asked ESA to support travel of two individuals to the bi-national meeting of the ecological societies of Chile and Argentina, in Buenos Aires, Argentina August 8-13, 2010. One of these would be a Board member, and the other a member of the Editorial Office or Publications Committee for a workshop about publishing. The fact that this meeting follows immediately our own Annual Meeting makes it unlikely a current Board member would be able to go. An AGU meeting is happening about the same time in Iguazu, and Rob Jackson volunteers to contact some recent ESA Board members who may be going to the AGU meeting to see if they would be willing to attend the Buenos Aires meeting as well. We will suggest using Skype as a way to have someone from the Editorial Office or Publications Committee participate in the publications workshop, and look for an appropriate (perhaps Spanish-speaking) volunteer.
A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: The Board approves funding up to $3,000 for a recent ESA Board member attending the AGU meeting in Iguazu in August to attend the meeting of the ecological societies of Chile and Argentina.
- New Business
NSF announced that around October 2010, it will require that all grant proposals include a data management plan in the form of a two-page supplementary document that will be subject to peer review. This step is part of the agency’s efforts to address how best to make government-funded research accessible to the public. Bill Michener is on the Board for Dryad, “a permanent, stable, curated and updated online repository for … data”, based at NESCENT, and has sent a prospectus about Dryad to the ESA. ESA could endorse their Joint Data Archiving Policy, become a partner, encourage authors to archive their data, appoint a representative to their Board, and implement an agreement of cooperation to integrate the journal’s manuscript system with Dryad’s data submission process.
Michener will present a proposal to the Board at the August meeting about formalizing a relationship to Dryad.
Meeting is adjourned at 12:00 noon.
Submitted by David W. Inouye, Secretary