ESA’s 2015 Graduate Student Policy Award recipients are Sydney Blankers (University of Illinois–Chicago), Cleo Chou (Princeton University), Natalie Hambalek (Oregon State University), and Emlyn Resetarits (University of Texas - Austin).

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 each spring for a two-day policy experience.  The Biological Ecological Sciences Coalition, co-chaired by ESA, sponsors the event. 

On May 13, four ESA students will participate in a policy training session with policy experts on how current political and fiscal issues impact the work of federal agencies and support of ecological research. On May 14, students head to Capitol Hill for meetings with decision-makers to advocate for science.

Since the awards establishment  in 2007, GSPA winners have gone onto careers that routinely involve policy or public outreach. Others have obtained fellowships through the American Association for the Advancement of Science to work in federal agencies and Congressional offices. For more information, check out the GSPA alumni network page.
Past GSPA recipients who would like to submit an addition to the network or update an existing post can send an email to Terence Houston, ESA Policy Analyst at


Susan Crate, Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-VA), Bruce Beyers and Terence Houston met on Capitol Hill in February to discuss climate science. (ESA File Photo)

On Feb. 11, Ecological Society of America (ESA) members participated in Climate Science Days for the first time. The annual event is sponsored by the Climate Science Working Group (CSWG) to advance understanding of climate science research with lawmakers on Capitol Hill.  ESA is a CSWG member as are other scientific associations.

Teams met with over 90 House and Senate offices and committee staff. Meetings with freshman Senate and House members were prioritized along with lawmakers who serve on committees with jurisdiction over climate science. President David Inouye and Public Affairs Committee members Bruce Beyers and Alexis Erwin represented the ESA scientific community.

Other participating CSWG organizations included the American Chemical Society, American Geophysical Union, American Meteorological Society, American Society of Agronomy, American Society of Plant Biologists, American Statistical Association, Consortium for Ocean Leadership, Crop Science Society of America, Geological Society of America, Society for Conservation Biology, Soil Society of America, and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.


ESA members used video to practice communication skills by using the 3Ms of key-point messaging: miniature, meaningful, and memorable. (ESA File photo)

ESA sponsored a four-hour interactive workshop on Communicating Climate Science held in coordination with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) on March 4 in Washington, DC. Over 50 ecologists attended. Jeanne Braha, AAAS public engagement manager, led the workshop. Participants came from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC. General principles of communication were covered followed by each participant clearly distilling their science into short and clear terms. 

The workshop reviewed much of the information included in the AAAS “What We Know: the Reality, Risks, and Response to Climate Change” report.


In March, ESA published a new open access journal with the Ecological Society of China.
Ecosystem Health and Sustainability, the first ecological journal published cooperatively by scientific societies from two countries, fosters communication of applied ecological research across national and disciplinary boundaries. The open access journal encourages submissions from scientists working in parts of the world experiencing rapid economic development, who are underrepresented in scholarly literature. The first issue launched on March 17th with articles on global greenhouse gas emissions, ecosystem health indicators, and sustainable urban growth in fast-growing 21st century megacities. Learn more about the new journal on ESA’s news page.


Supporting non-defense discretionary programs
This Spring, Congress began working on the 12 appropriations bills that fund the federal government for Fiscal Year 2016. A decade of across-the-board spending cuts established by the Budget Control Act of 2011 will constrain how Congress can fund government programs. The Bipartisan Budget Agreement of 2013 provided a temporary reprieve from spending limitations set to expire at the end of FY 2015.

ESA joined over 2,100 national, state and local organizations in sending a letter to urge Members of Congress to replace these mandated spending limitations with a balanced approach to reducing the federal deficit. 

Supporting Research Innovation
ESA joined over 120 national businesses, higher education, scientific, medical and other research organizations in signing a letter commending Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) for introducing the American Innovation Act. The legislation would authorize an annual five percent increase over ten years for federal science agencies.

Secret Science Reform Act
ESA was among 35 scientific societies and academic institutions to send a letter to Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) expressing concern with the Secret Science Reform Act of 2015. The letter contends that key components of the bill, such as a requirement prohibiting the agency from using research that is not transparent or reproducible, could have unintended detrimental consequences. 

EPA memo concerning wood biomass use in carbon emission reduction efforts
ESA sent a letter to US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy expressing concern with an internal agency memo proposing to credit use of wood biomass in carbon emission reduction efforts.

Several ESA members were among 78 research professionals who joined in a similar letter to EPA several weeks prior.

Interoceanic Canal through Lake Nicaragua
In February, ESA sent a letter to Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega to request an open dialogue with scientific experts on the potential environmental ramifications of constructing a canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean through Lake Nicaragua.

After-school education and summer learning programs
In January, ESA co-signed a letter to Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) expressing support for the 21st Century Community Learning Center initiative. The program ensures the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) are included in after-school and summer learning programs in high-poverty schools.  

Old-growth logging in the Tongass
ESA  also co-signed an organizational letter to US Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack supporting transition away from clear-cut logging of old-growth forest in the Tongass National Forest.


ESA is delighted to announce that a grant of $11,000 from the Edith and Curtis Munson Foundation in support of our flagship diversity education program, SEEDS-Strategies for Ecology Education, Diversity and Sustainability. The funds will be used to strengthen SEEDS chapters in Florida by holding two regional field trips. SEEDS  has held four regional field trips since 2013 to introduce freshmen and sophomore students to ecology and ecological careers.

This month, 18 students from four San Francisco Bay Area SEEDS campus chapters participated in a regional field trip and visited the Hopkins Marine Station, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the California Academy of Sciences and Jasper Ridge Biological Reserve. Students were fortunate to work with Joseph Wible, Steve Palumbi, Meg Lowman, William Gilly, Daniel Santillano, and Rodolfo Dirzo. Special thanks go to Cindy Wilber, Stanford University SEEDS chapter adviser for co-organizing the program. The California field trip was supported by a grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.


ESA’s 2014 Annual Report is now available online. Here’s a sampling of some of the highlights from the past year:

  • Ecosphere received its first impact factor.
  • SEEDS Chapters’ campus network has grown from 23 in 2002 up to 88.
  • Science Programs held the first Sustaining Biological Infrastructure workshop. 
  • Public Affairs hosted ESA graduate students for “Congressional Visit Days” in Washington DC.


 “Sage advice: couple’s research plants seeds for reclamation of sagebrush.” A feature by journalist Dennis Webb about ecologists Tamera Minnick and Richard Alward and their January report in Ecological Applications appeared on the front page of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel on February 2, 2015. The newspaper followed up with an editorial calling on the state government to improve the reclamation process. Scott Streater also covered the story for Greenwire. Press release. Photos.

“Cautionary fish tale from Australia’s Great Barrier Reef marine reserve.” In 2004, 117,000 km2 of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park were placed off-limits to trawlers. Erik Stockstad covered Rick Fletcher and colleagues’ Ecological Applications article (in preprint) reporting disappointing returns for commercial fisheries under the protection scheme in AAAS’s ScienceInsider on February 4, 2015.

Relocation of animals could drive some species towards extinction – study.” In the Guardian, Oliver Milman covered Jennifer Germano and colleagues’ March 2015 Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment paper on the poor track record of “mitigation translocations.” Science rarely guides the millions spent relocating animals to make way for land development, and relocation rarely helps the affected populations.

 “New diseases are poised to emerge under climate change, researchers say.” When wild birds are a big part of your diet, opening a freshly shot bird to find worms squirming around under the skin is a disconcerting sight. Animals are changing their seasonal movements and feeding patterns to cope with the changing climate, bringing into close contact species that rarely met in the past, as Caroline Van Hemert reported in the December issue of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. Umair Irfan covered the story for ClimateWire on February 20, 2015 (Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment) Press release.


Child Care at ESA Centennial Meting

Day Care for Young Children
For young children up to 8 years old, we will once again have KiddieCorp provide day care.

ESF Summer Experience at Gilman School—Deadline line for registration is APRIL 30th!
ESA is happy to offer a wonderful summer camp for children 8-years-old and older. You have many options, but you must register by APRIL 30th.  Summer camps fill very quickly, so do not delay.

Here is a link to the offerings at the camp. The offerings available are for the week of Aug. 10–13.

We have been given a special rate since we will not offer the camp on Friday, Aug. 14. Here is a link to the application, use the ‘Enroll now for the 1st time’ button. Make sure you list ESA in the referral area or you will not get the special rate. Mini-camp for children aged 4-8 is $368; Sports camp for kids aged 6-14 is $368; and Senior camp for kids aged 9-15 is $398. You can also select additional items from the Specialty Major Camp list. 

You must also notify Michelle Horton at that you are registering your child so that we can arrange for a shuttle to and from the camp.


ESA members Jane Lubchenco, Erle Ellis, Monica Turner, and Don Waller.

ESA Past-president JANE LUBCHENCO (Oregon State University) is one of this year’s winners of the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, along with ecologist Madhav Gadgil of Pune, India, for their leadership and engagement in the development of conservation and sustainability policies in the United States, India and internationally.

ERLE ELLIS (University of Maryland) was featured in a New York Times op-ed discussing planetary boundaries for human alteration of Earth system processes. He also participated in a blog where several scientists gave their thoughts on a Trends in Ecology and Evolution paper on ecosystem restoration.

President-elect MONICA TURNER (University of Wisconsin) was featured in a Science magazine article summarizing the current state of science for interactions between bark beetles and fire in the Western United States. She is also the featured scientist for the Ecology unit in Campbell Biology’s 10th edition, published in 2014.

DON WALLER (University of Wisconsin – Madison) has helped to organize the 2015 Environmental and Law Policy Confluence Conference in late March 2015 on the topic of causes and consequences of nutrient inputs into the Great Lakes.

Several ESA members were among 20 environmental researchers selected as 2015 Leopold Leadership Fellows. The Leopold Leadership program was established in 1998 by ESA Past-presidents Jane Lubchenco, Harold Mooney and Paul Risser for scientists to fine-tune their communication with audiences outside the academic community. Click here to view the full list of fellows.

ESA in Action Spring 2015: If you have an interesting story about sharing your work beyond the ecological community or have been actively involved in policy or media communication, we’d like to hear from you. Please send updates to ESA’s Public Affairs Office at

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


EcoTone: ESA’s blog is soliciting guest contributions about citizen science as well as posts highlighting ecology and its connections to policy and society. Contact ESA Communications Officer Liza Lester to learn about contributing a post:

Podcasts: 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 Policy Analyst, Terence Houston:

ESA in Action Winter 2015: If you have an interesting story about sharing your work beyond the ecological community or have been actively involved in policy or media communication, we’d like to hear from you. Please send updates to ESA’s Public Affairs Office at

Keep track of science and policy developments, news about your fellow ecologists and join the conversation through our Facebook page and twitter.

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