Publicly Funded Research: Our Tax Dollars at Work

Many of the natural resources that we value and prize – including clean air and water – are safeguarded by public funded research. Photos: C. Rupprecht (l), R. Broderick (r).

By Lauren Kuehne

Elections can be difficult times for all of us, perhaps especially so for scientists. Even as big issues of economics, environmental policy, and research funding come to the forefront, our opinions are bound by our training and emphasis on objectivity (and that’s on top of the normal tongue-biting everyone has to do around politics). The dilemma, of course, is that scientists know a lot about environmental policies and likewise, about short and long-term benefits of research funding for the environment, public health, and the economy – we are, in many ways, the inside informants.

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Early Career Ecologist Profile: Meet Lindsay Reynolds

Hiking out of Canyon de Chelly, Arizona. A small orchard and riparian forest visible in the background.

I’ve always enjoyed being outside, and despite growing up in the big city, I knew I wanted a job someday that involved working outside. In high school, the most “outdoorsy” job I could find was working at a plant nursery, watering acres of petunias and giving advice on what customers should plant in their gardens. Little did I know that 15+ years later I’d be launching a career studying plants! Continue reading

Embracing other perspectives to aviod tunnel vision in your research

Cows grazing near aspen in MPB-killed lodgepole pine forest.

By Kristen Pelz

This past summer, I attended a meeting about aspen ecology and management. I presented my thoughts about how aspen (Populus tremuloides) will respond to widespread lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) mortality caused by mountain pine beetle (MPB) (Dendroctonus ponderosae). I was nervous and excited to present to a small group of accomplished scientists and high-level managers from around the country. I thought I had a complete theory about why aspen had not increased in the way we had expected following a 1980s MPB outbreak that I studied for my Master’s thesis. But, meeting and talking with many people really broadened my perspective and reminded me—once again—about the importance of avoiding tunnel vision in research. Continue reading

Early Career Ecologist Profile: Meet Lauren Kuehne

In my element. Deploying a temperature logger, John Day, OR.

After almost 10 years spent pursuing a career in environmental science, I still have a hard time getting the words out: “I study fish – the freshwater kind”, when asked what I do for a living. And even though I sometimes feel almost as taken aback as the person I’m talking to, looking at my roots it should be surprising that I would do anything else. Continue reading

A few of my favorite things…

By Kelly Ramirez

The influence of global changes (climate change, nitrogen deposition, urbanization, etc) on microbial communities is really one of my favorite research topics and sustains my job as a science policy – microbial ecologist (that is a thing, right?). Last month Drs. Jennifer Lau and Jay Lennon published in PNAS, on a few of my favorite things– “Rapid responses of soil microorganisms improve plant fitness in novel environments.” Soil, microbes, plants, global change, complex interactions- what more could you ask for? Continue reading

Early Career Ecologist Profile: Meet Sarah Bisbing

I study trees. I’m an ecologist. Oh, wait. I’m a scientist.

This is something I remind myself of nearly every day. And yet, this statement still catches me off guard at times. Let me tell you a bit about myself, and you’ll understand why.

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Surprise! (??) Poll Results: Writing IS NOT an Inflexible Commitment.

Well, folks, it looks like very few of us actually protect our writing time. 92% of us ‘write a few hours a week’ or ‘fit it in when we can.’

Writing is our contribution to the advancement of scientific knowledge. Writing is the means in which we ‘get our science out there.’ And, given the number of publications in circulation despite the competitive nature of the review process, we are clearly getting it done. But, one would think that this critical component of our careers would be our #1 priority.

So, why is it not a priority? Why is this time not carved out each week?

This data, of course, does not represent the breadth of the scientific community. Re-post? I think so. I challenge you to take the time to respond. ~ Sarah B. ~