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Critical Skills to Scale Up Ecology

Workshop for Graduate Students

Organized in partnership with the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), the ESA-SEEDS Critical Skills to Scale Up Ecology Workshop provides critical skills for graduate students interested in working with multiple spatio-temporal datasets to address ecological questions.  Knowledge and skills learned in the workshop apply to ecological data from many different sources, including NEON.  

Blog post by Jessica Guo on this workshop: 

Virtual Format

Originally designed to be a 40-hour workshop, this workshop was offered over two months in fall 2021 from September 2 to October 26. Participants completed both the Data Carpentries segment and the NEON data exploration segment. 


  • Acquire core data science skills with a focus on reproducible methods including:
    • Code documentation, sharing and reproducible workflows.
    • Using version control (GitHub) to support collaborative method development and to backup work.
    • Documenting and publishing methods and workflows.
  • Learn how to access and work with a wide variety of NEON data
  • Learn how knowledge and skills gained may be applied to ecological data from many different sources
  • Expand your network of data scientists and other professionals
  • Connect with a diverse community of peers 


  • Commit to at least 80% of each segment. 
  • Must attend preworkshop orientation and introductions
  • Complete all assigned coursework in a timely manner to fully participate in the next session
  • Be prepared to use Slack and Google folders to communicate and access materials
  • Deliver a presentation based on an independent project using NEON data 
  • Access to internet and computers 
  • Abide by ESA’s Code of Conduct throughout the workshop and when interacting with participants, instructors and program staff


Workshop Schedule

All sessions are 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM EDT 



Thursday September 2, 2021

Orientation and introductions

Segment I  Data Carpentries (16 hours)

Every Tuesday and Thursday beginning Tuesday September 7 and Thursday September 9 through September 28 and 30.


Segment II NEON Data Exploration (12 hours)

 Week 1 (2 sessions)

Tuesday October 5 

Overview of NEON – finding your way around the NEON website and data portal

Thursday October 7 

Accessing NEON utilities

Week 2 (2 sessions)

Tuesday October 12

Spatial Data and Observatory spatial design

Thursday October 14

NEON Data processing and QA/QC

Week 3 (1 session)

Tuesday October 19

Develop your independent projects
Interacting with NEON Science Team 

Week 4 (1 session)

Tuesday October 26
Presentation of a culmination project through small group-designed research projects on a topic of interest. Work starting as capstone projects from similar workshops have resulted in publications or graduate thesis for participants.


Students selected for the original workshop will receive priority acceptance in this virtual format. 

New Applicants must:

  • Be enrolled in a graduate program at a US institution.
  • Demonstrate either prior work in ecology or related field or interest in connecting your disciplinary background to ecological questions.
  • Address how your participation contributes to diversity, equity and inclusion of underrepresented scientists in ecology