Sea-level research at 8000 feet

In continuation of Ann’s post a couple weeks back, conferences and meetings are very important in becoming a successful and knowledgeable graduate student. Currently, I am in Estes Park, Colorado, which is about 1.5 hours outside Denver and adjacent to Rocky Mountain National Park for the Long-Term Ecological Research All-Scientists Meeting. In a nut-shell, this meeting is held once every three years and brings together scientists and researchers from 26 LTER sites around the country and around the world. This meeting differs from a conference by being primarily focused on cross-site and interdisciplinary collaboration. This is done by holding working group discussion sessions surrounding a particular topic. Scientist that are interested in that topic can participate in a discussion session that has a specific outcome; typically information exchange, brainstorming, or a product such as data analysis or a journal article. 
Map of all 26 LTER sites

The working group sessions that are held at a meeting are typically selected by way of a request for proposals. This request is sent to the general scientist community, in this case the LTER community. Researchers will then submit a proposal of the session that they want to hold; including the purpose of the session, the importance, and the potential outcome of the session. This LTER ASM meeting, I had the opportunity to submit a proposal that was accepted by the LTER group that focused on graduate student research in research topics related to hydrology, or how water interacts with the environment. The LTER community has been promoting collaboration between researchers at different sites and between different fields of study. Because of this and my own interests in scientific collaboration, I contacted two graduate students to help co-organize this meeting with me; one from the Everglades/ FCE LTER group and one from the Arctic (ARC) LTER. Additionally, we invited 9 other graduate students from 8 separate LTER sites, spanning tropical to desert conditions, and coastal to inland environments and a wide range of topics from nutient cycling to water flows. You can view some of the presentations from our working group session here.
The reason why we put this session together was to identify relationships between nature and society among the various LTER sites that are inherently linked by water. The 26 LTER sites represent sites that have long-term datasets and allow scientists to look at environment and societal changes over ecological timescales on the orders of years and decades. Long-term data is important, because some of the processes that occur in nature take longer than the few years that a student might be at school doing their research.

In addition to the workshops, we still hold a poster session to highlight the research that we have been working on. I will have my poster up during the meeting to show off my remote sensing research (see earlier blog post). Essenitally I will be presenting how we can use satellite data to measure chloride concentrations and evapotranspiration (evaporation + transpiration). You can read through my abstract here.
These meetings are great opportunities to interact with other graduate students, faculty and researchers that conduct similar research and to learn about what cutting edge research is going on in other parts of the country and world. Additionally, the LTER meetings do a really good job of promoting collaboration and camaraderie between graduate students and faculty by holding social events and field trips. And it’s pretty hard to pass up a field trip to Rocky Mountain National Park.  With that, I will leave you with some pictures from the conference.


Graduate Student Mixer- Great opporutnity to meet other great grad students from around the states

Graduate Student Symposium at LTER ASM

View of the Rocky Mountains from the front of our housing

View from our back patio


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