The Ecological Society of America’s 2012 Graduate Student Policy Award recipients are: Matthew Schuler (Washington University in St. Louis), Sara Kuebbing (University of Tennessee, Knoxville) and Adam Rosenblatt (Florida International University).

The three students will travel to Washington, DC to participate in policy training sessions as well as meetings with decision-makers on Capitol Hill on March 28 and 29. The two-day event is sponsored by the Biological Ecological Sciences Coalition, co-chaired by ESA. View the full announcement here.



In recent months, ESA has been active in submitting correspondence to the White House and Congress on a wide array of research policy proposals.

Most recently, ESA joined with other members of the Coalition for National Science Funding in cosigning a letter expressing concerns about H.R. 3433, the GRANT Act. The bill includes provisions that would require the posting of a complete copy of a funded grant proposal to a new government-wide website, a concern for many researchers who continue to draw on their original ideas for future papers. It would also require open disclosure of peer reviewers. “The success of the peer-review process depends on the willingness of qualified reviewers to be candid and critical as needed in the evaluation of research proposals and, in fact, without the anonymity provided in the current process, many researchers would not be willing to review proposals,” notes the letter.

“Increased accountability and transparency are worthy goals, and we believe the federal science and engineering research grants process is currently very accountable and transparent, while also encouraging the best in our country to participate,” the letter states. “H.R. 3433 would disrupt this balance and ultimately be detrimental to the U.S. science and engineering research enterprise.”

ESA also submitted letters in response to two official Requests for Information (RFI) from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) concerning the issue of public access to research and digital data generated through federal support. ESA maintained that any digital data policy be flexible enough to account for the needs of diverse research communities and that stakeholders should have adequate input into the policies that would impact them. The Society noted its capabilities to support data sharing and archiving and welcomed the development of agency policies and standards that will preserve and enhance access to digital data resulting from federal support.

The ESA written response to the RFI on public access to scholarly communications requested that scientific journals continue to maintain the latitude to determine the best methods in which to expand dissemination of the research papers they publish.

OSTP subsequently posted the comments received from a broad cross-section of the scientific community in response to both the digital data and scholarly publications RFIs. 

ESA also provided feedback to the National Science Board on its recent report on digital data sharing and management. 


ESA sent a letter to President Obama expressing support for his decision to deny approval of the existing permit to construct the Keystone XL pipeline.

The decision was mandated by provisions in the Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act of 2011 (P.L. 112-78). The Act required the administration to come to a decision on whether to approve the pipeline within 60 days. ESA’s letter noted that only in November of 2011 did the Nebraska state government enact a law requiring a new environmental assessment for an alternative to the originally proposed route, which traversed an environmentally sensitive portion of Nebraska. The Society’s letter requested that the administration come to a decision only after proper scientific review and environmental assessment.


ESA also joined the STEM Education Coalition in sending a letter to House Education and Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) providing feedback on two bills that would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Specifically, the letter highlights the important role STEM education plays in economic development and offers several suggestions on how the legislation could be modified to more directly and comprehensively focus on STEM education.


ESA finalized a report on the outcomes of the National Partners Dialogue, which was held in late 2011.  The meeting of over 60 national partners resulted in a number of recommendations that the US Geological Survey plans to carry forward as it continues setting up the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center (NCCWSC), in conjunction with the Department of the Interior’s regional Climate Science Centers.  The report will be available on the ESA website soon, pending final USGS approval.

Be on the lookout for the Spring edition of ESA in Action this May! Send highlights of your work engaging in policy, with the media or related activities to ESA’s Public Affairs Office at


JUDITH WEIS (Rutgers University) contributed to a chapter on water for the United Nations Environment Program’s 5th Global Environment Outlook. Collaborators represent multiple countries and the chapter is intended to inform water policies worldwide.

ROB JACKSON (Duke University) co-authored a study on the safety of hydraulic fracturing, garnering several press mentions over the past year.  He recently published an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer, clarifying statements that were made in reference to his study during a House Transportation and Infrastructure Water Resources Subcommittee hearing in November.

FRED GEHLBACH (Baylor University) writes a monthly nature column for the Waco, Texas daily newspaper (Tribune Herald).  His January 2012 column was titled: “We are the cause behind a depleted Earth.”

JOSEPH LEYDA has been involved in a federal court case in Seattle WA in which he presented scientific anlaysis of the effects of stormwater pollutants such as diesel fuel, gasoline, oil, lead, copper, zinc, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) on salmonids and other organisms.  Leyda also submitted comments for the scoping phase of the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for continued uranium mining in western Colorado by the Bureau of Land Management and Department of Energy. 

SEAN HOBAN (University of Ferrara, Italy) is working with a ten country Eurpean Union consortium called ConGRESS (Conservation of genetic resources for effective species survival) to enhance the understanding and application of genetic biodiversity in conservation management and policy decisions.  He is developing software to help determine the appropriate level of resources to dedicate to evaluation, monitoring, and intervention actions such as translocations or protected area planning, to facilitate best practice based on scientific evidence. He also recently contributed a guest post on ESA’s EcoTone.

MELISSA KENNEY is Assistant Research Scientist in Environmental Decision Analysis at Johns Hopkins University and an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow hosted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  She has built a research program on integrating uncertain scientific information and societal values to support complex environmental policymaking and is helping agencies better link climate sciences with the social sciences.  In this role, she has coordinated the development of a physical, ecological, and societal indicator framework for U.S. Global Change Research Program, National Climate Assessment and is a lead author for the Decision Support chapter of the National Climate Assessment.  Kenney is also helping implement the memorandum of understanding between the Western Governors’ Association and NOAA to support transboundary climate adaptation in the Columbia River and Pacific Northwest.


The 15th edition of ESA’s Issues in Ecology is now available. “Excess Nitrogen in the U.S. Environment: Trends, Risks, and Solutions” focuses on Nitrogens impact on ecosystems and human society as well as potential methods to mitigate its negative impacts.  This latest Issues was complied by an interdisciplinary panel of 16 authors led by Eric Davidson, a soil ecologist and executive director of the Woods Hole Research Center.   Science Daily picked up ESA’s press release on Issues and articles in Minnesota’s Star Tribune, the Summit County Citizens Voice, and the U-T San Diego News mentioned the new Issues in Ecology which also influenced a report from PRI’s The World (26 Jan).

‘Follow’ ESA activities on Twitter, Facebook

Over the past year, ESA has developed a growing following within social media. Keep track of opportunities and updates of ESA through our Facebook page and twitter. Our Facebook page is approaching  1,000 “likes”  and we currently have over 3,800 followers on Twitter.  We  encourage you and your friends to join the conversation.

ESA’s 2011 Annual Report is now online

Find out what your Society did last year.  Here’s just a sampling of some of the highlights

  • Faster publication of research in the ecological and environmental sciences
  • Engagement with other communities on changing the trajectory of the biosphere
  • A new policy guidebook for ecologists
  • Opportunities for faculty through ESA’s EcoEd Digital Library
  • Workshops and briefings on issues of concern to the ecological community
  • New initiatives to foster ecological education and diversity in the field

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

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