Early Career Ecology Events at #ESA2018

Early Career Ecology Events @ ESA New Orleans Meeting 2018

The following activities during the ESA annual meeting are either hosted/co-hosted by the Early Career Ecology section, or are likely to be of interest to early career members.

**If you complete the “ESA 2018 To Do List” and give it to our booth by Wednesday afternoon, you could win a free book on Thursday afternoon!**


12:00 – 17:00    Workshop: “Create Your Career and Get the Job: Strategies and Tactics for

Early-Career Ecologists in Finding and Landing Your Dream Career”

(Convention Center- 355)

In this session, we will focus on strategies and tactics to identify new opportunities, locate decision-makers within organizations, solidify your reputation in the minds of those who hire, and gain access to hidden jobs and career-changing opportunities. We will focus our time on specific tactics to enable you to create your own dream career and get you the job, such as marketing your value, interviewing skills, and having a polished social media presence. Note: Pre-registration required



11:30 – 13:15    Workshop: “Accessing Research Funding from Federal Agencies (An Early

Career Networking Session)”

(Convention Center- 354)

Navigating federal agencies for research and funding opportunities in ecology can be complex, especially for early career investigators. Representatives from multiple federal agencies and organizations involved with ecological research will share information about research funding, fellowships and/or related opportunities.  At this session, we will strive for representation from DOD, DOE, EPA, NASA, NOAA, NSF, USDA, USFS, USGS, and the Smithsonian Institution. After each agency’s presentation, representatives will meet with session participants in small roundtable discussions to answer questions about their programs.


11:30 – 13:15    Workshop: “Diverse Career Pathways in Ecology”

(Convention Center- 235-236)

Ecology is often considered an academic discipline and graduate students are typically trained to follow the academic track. In reality, there are many jobs across a wide variety of fields that are open to ecologists. This workshop is ideal for graduate students and early-career researchers who are interested in learning more about career opportunities both in and out of academia. Participants will get to hear from and interact with a diverse group of ecologists working in academia, local government, federal government, and non-government organizations as tenure-track professors, research analysts, and science education specialists.
Meet our panelists and learn how they landed their current position. Each of our scientists will provide a brief description of their educational backgrounds, what the interview process was like for their current job, current job responsibilities, and day-to-day work activities. After initial introductions, panelists and participants will engage in three rounds of ‘Speed Dating an Ecologist’ where each of the panelist will move to an assigned area and participants interested in finding more about that particular career can ask questions and learn about that specific career path. Each round will last approximately 20 minutes to provide both panelists and participants with ample time and opportunity for discussion.


11:30 – 13:15    Workshop: “Backward Design for Teaching Ecology Courses”

(Convention Center- 355)

There is an international movement to transform STEM courses using evidence-based teaching practices. As ecologists we teach students how organisms interact with their environment, a topic full of opportunities for student engagement and interaction with course material. By teaching innovative courses that develop students into critical thinkers capable of many different scientific practices, we are preparing students for a multitude of different careers.
The Early Career Section will run a workshop to help ecologists create a scaffold for developing more effective courses. This workshop will focus on Backward Design, which includes brainstorming learning objectives, designing assessments, and building course materials that reflect the goals of a course. All aspects of the workshop are informed by evidence-based teaching practices and participants will be exposed to a variety of teaching tools, strategies, and resources.

Participants will leave the workshop with a comprehensive course design informed by Discipline-Based Education Research (DBER). The workshop will be most effective if participants bring their current course syllabus to the workshop for constructive feedback and redevelopment. Topics are not limited to ecology courses, but can be anything related to biology or environmental science. Building a course from scratch is also possible, so come ready to share your ideas!

The workshop is BYO Lunch and BYO Syllabus.


13:30 – 16:30    Career Fair, Day 1

(Convention Center- Exhibit Hall)

Join us for the first ESA Career Fair! Daily activities will be scheduled in the Exhibit Hall from 1:30 – 4:30 pm. including mock interviews, resume reviews, and talks from professionals across the career spectrum.


13:30 – 14:30 Interview demonstration

Come watch Editor-in-Chief of Ecological Applications and Nobel Peace prize winner Dr. Dave Schimel give a mock job interview to a graduate student and provide feedback on the interview process.


14:30 – 15:30 Mini-workshop: “Budget, negotiating and team building”

Led by Susan Teel from the National Park Service


Ongoing – Resume review



7:00 – 9:00    Early career Mentorship Program Breakfast (invitation only)

(Convention Center- Natchez)

Informal breakfast for participants in the 2018 Early Career Ecologist Section Mentorship Program.


11:30 – 13:15    Early Career Ecologist Section Business Meeting

(Convention Center- River Bend 2)

We will discuss our section accomplishments and work from the 2017-2018 year, and plan for the future. Election results for the section leadership positions will also be announced.


11:30 – 13:15    Workshop: “Science Communication for Advocacy”

(Convention Center 357)

Clear and compelling communication is vital to the mission of science. Increasingly, scientists understand that they must communicate their findings broadly for their work to have the highest impact possible. The popularity of communication skills workshops at the ESA meeting in recent years underscores the demand for this type of training. In this workshop, we will focus on honing communication skills and strategies specific to engaging in advocacy. This type of communication is particularly relevant to ecologists, as experts on many pressing environmental concerns (such as climate change, land use change etc.) that have the potential to be mitigated via appropriate policy and decision-making. Increasingly, advocacy is noted as a desired skill for young scientists. Most science communication training currently focuses on how to make complex findings understandable to a general audience or on more compelling ‘storytelling’. However, effective advocacy requires distinct strategies, approaches and resources that are less widely accessible.

To address this skills gap, the Early Career Ecologist Section is teaming up with the Union of Concerned Scientists, an organization with extensive experience in training scientists to engage with policy makers and stakeholders. This workshop will present a range of approachable techniques and strategies for effective environmental issues advocacy. The workshop will conclude with the drafting (and ideally submission) of a statement in response to current environmental issues for which there are open requests for public comment, thus providing participants with an immediate example of the advocacy communication that they can engage in on a regular basis.


11:30 – 13:15    Workshop: “Transitioning Your Career Beyond Academia”

(Convention Center- 240-241)

Making the transition from a career in academia to one in another sector is not as elusive or challenging as one may think. Ecology-educated professionals who have spent time in academia have an amazing amount of transferable skills to myriad sectors, and decision-makers and hiring-managers know this. The key is being able to articulate your true value in a way that decision-makers can understand (using their language). We will examine how to craft a successful strategy to research, prepare and ultimately transition to a career outside academia, and we will explore how to determine the right careers for your needs, desires and ambitions. And finally, we will keep in mind that even though we may leave academia now, we still can stay connected and collaborative with colleagues in higher education, as we may want to come back in the future. We will discuss tactics to ensuring the door is always open for your return.


13:30 – 16:30    Career Fair, Day 2

(Convention Center- Exhibit Hall)


13:30 – 14:30 Panel: “Is a personal social media presence important?”


Ongoing – Resume review



13:30 – 16:30    Career Fair, Day 3

(Convention Center- Exhibit Hall)


13:30 – 14:30 Mini-workshop: “How to communicate in-depth knowledge of science to people of different backgrounds”

Led by the ESA Communication & Engagement Section


15:30 – 16:30 Panel: “What challenges did you face on your career path and how did you overcome them?”


Ongoing – Resume review



10:00 – 11:30    Inspire Session: “Students As Ecologists: Collaborating with Undergraduates from Scientific Question to Publication”

(Convention Center 243)

While many ecologists have figured out how to succeed as an ecological scientist, it is not always intuitive how to spread that expertise to scientists from younger generations. This session will examine the pitfalls and means of success for faculty/researchers (and future-faculty) across different institutions to bring students into the scientific process from start to finish. There is no manual for how to work with undergraduates toward a publishable goal, whether in a one-on-one lab mentorship setting, an REU, or having a course of students collect and analyze data for future publication. This session will explore the many ways of building successful partnerships with undergraduates, mentoring practices, obstacles to overcome, and bringing student-faculty research to the publishing stage.


11:30 – 13:15    Workshop: “Introduction to Negotiation Strategies and Tactics”

(Convention Center 240-241)

Did you know that the salary of your very first job after graduation determines your salaries for the rest of your life? Learn how to create a win-win situation and negotiate right from start to finish in the job decision process. Clarifying your needs and wants, and those of the other party are key. The negotiation skills you learn are valuable in that they can be applied to any situation in your professional (and even personal) life.


11:30 – 13:15    Workshop: “How to Participate in Public Policy and Communicate with Congress”

(Convention Center- 357)

Science-based policy decisions are informed by effective communicators who engage in public policy at the federal, state and local level. How the process works may seem overly complex leading to the myth that citizens are powerless in the face of special interests and partisan politics—but, nothing is farther from the truth. Attend this workshop to learn the ins and outs of working with Congress. This hands-on session will provide participants with an overview of national-level opportunities to participate in public policy, from weighing in on congressional legislation to advocating for federal funding for research. It will provide the ‘who’, ‘what’, and ‘when’ of participating in public policy.


11:30 – 13:15    Workshop: “How to Make Your Website Rock”

(Convention Center- 335-336)

Many early-career scientists (including those leaving academia) either don’t have a website or slapped one up because they thought they should. But a great website could tangibly help them advance to the next step in their career. This workshop will go through how to integrate a personal website into a personal communications plan (what a website is good for) and will touch on personal branding (how to make a website good for you). Participants will leave with written notes that should make it easy to get started making or improving their site (for free!).


13:30 – 16:30    Career Fair, Day 4

(Convention Center- Exhibit Hall)


14:30 – 15:30 Mini-workshop: “Careers in publishing”

Led by Pete Mooreside, Executive Editor of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment


15:30 – 16:30 Panel: “What skills do employers from different sectors look for?”


Ongoing – Resume review