Bi-coastal support for California faculty in the #CSUStrike

Photo courtesy of the California Faculty Association

Photo courtesy of the California Faculty Association

Any time a individual or organization take a stand, there is bound to be disagreement. We all have opinions based on our own world view and lifelong cultural, social, and political influences. Despite what the recent Presidential debates may have you believing about the strength of arguments, the most persuasive statements come from those who take the time to thoroughly review all available information, critically evaluate the evidence at hand, and make decisions based on this synthesis and evaluation. In advance of the impending #CSUStrike across the California State University system, Professor @JacquelynGill of the University of Maine has done just that. In her most recent blog, she provides a comprehensive look at the current issues faced by faculty nationwide and details some of the arguments in support of our movement for fair wages and our hope that our state (and Nation) will once again value our public university system. On behalf of the CSU faculty, thank you, Professor @JacquelynGill.

Changing with the times: The Future of Forestry Degrees?

IMG_2324Our forestry program at Cal Poly, along with many other programs nationwide, is looking to the future and working to identify programatic changes that will support the ever-evolving industry while also engaging the students these industries will be dependent upon in the future. Forestry programs have seen diminishing enrollments over the last few decades despite the ample job opportunities available to graduates. So, what gives? Well, cultural, social, and political drivers along with an increased understanding of ecosystem dynamics is challenging forestry programs to be innovative and to alter the structure of the curriculum.

At Cal Poly, we are working to identify the drivers of student interest and hoping to make changes based on these interests. Please help us make progress and positive change by participating in this survey:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NNP8R8G

Reposted from: sarahbisbing.com

Science communication in grad school: should you or shouldn’t you?

Taking part in education and outreach events: time well spent or a distraction on the way to a thesis?

Science communication in graduate school: time well spent or a distraction on the way to a thesis?

Spoiler alert: I am going to try to persuade you that all graduate students should engage in science communication.  In fact, our Freshwater Ecology & Conservation lab – made up of 3 master’s and 2 PhD students, 1 post-doc, 1 research scientist, and 1 early career professor – wrote a hot-off-the-press journal article in Conservation Biology about how graduate students can (and should) do science communication. But we know that grad students don’t have time to read any more papers, so a “Cliff Notes” version seemed in order.

If you are reading this blog, you may know something about science communication, by which I mean (very generally) talking about research to audiences other than scientists. Maybe you even have an opinion about it, something like “I wish I knew how to do that better”, or “If only I wasn’t so busy”. Or maybe you already dislike this post, because “I’m still learning how to DO science – I’ll figure out communicating it later!” Continue reading

A Graduate Student’s Guide to Necessary Skills for Landing a Job

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By Helen Bothwell

Many of our readers and contributing early career ecologists are at that point in their careers where they are transitioning from graduate school life to that thing we have been working towards for so long – a job!  For those of you who have jumped that hurdle and successfully landed positions, I welcome your advice and suggestions from the trenches on this topic.

In a recent publication in Conservation Biology, Blickley et al. (2012) presented a “Graduate student’s guide to necessary skills for nonacademic conservation careers.”  While they focused on conservation jobs, their findings are broadly applicable to students preparing for numerous careers in the sciences.  At the heart of their study is the notion that graduate coursework and thesis or dissertation research don’t necessarily translate into skill sets essential for the job market.  A well-respected scientist once told me that a graduate degree is kind of the booby prize.  To be competitive in the job market, there are many additional skills we need to be developing beyond the minimum requirements of a graduate degree.

Continue reading

In our own backyard

By Kelly S. Ramirez

Hello Readers, Happy New Year and welcome back to Early Career Ecologists! We are excited to get back into our normal posting schedule. Here’s to a productive and stimulating 2013.

Over my holiday break I read The Dog Stars by Peter Heller. (I finally got around to reading it after hearing this NPR interview). Briefly, The Dog Stars is a novel about a man, Hig, living in post apocalyptic Colorado, nine years after a plague has wiped out most of the human population; he is left with his dog, the stars and a neighbor with a massive weapons arsenal.

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What I found so great about the novel, first, was Heller’s use of poetry and disjointed prose to highlight Hig’s loss – of his family, his surrounding environment, really the entire world. Amidst the sorrow though, Heller maintains a sense of hopefulness and lightheartedness that makes this a beautifully written and enjoyable novel.

But I am not here to write a book review- check out here and here if you stumbled upon this page for that reason. Though if you are wondering, I would say the catastrophic feel of this book falls somewhere between The Road, by Cormac McCarthy* and WALL×E, the lighthearted animated Disney film about a futuristic robot. This post is instead focused on the role of literature and film in public understanding of climate change. Continue reading

Taking time to learn

Growing exotic and native riparian trees

By Lindsay Reynolds, PhD

Blogging is a powerful avenue our society has developed as a way to communicate ideas, but 15 years ago the word didn’t even exist. And now, some people are already asking, has blogging hit its peak? The first Blackberry smartphone was introduced in 2002, and for a long time the only people I knew with smartphones were my friends in med school. Then, the iPhone emerged in 2007, and now smartphones are ubiquitous. None of us need to be reminded how much technology has changed our world and the breathtaking pace at which it continues to change. Not only is it changing our social world and the way we communicate, but it has changed how we do science. How do we keep up as scientists and how do we figure out when and where to allocate time to learning new tools?

This is a question every scientist has to ask themselves. Its not a new problem, either. It’s as old as science itself. In the end, it is an issue that is less to do with learning the shiniest new technology and more to do with maintaining a mindset as a constant learner in your career. Continue reading

Early Career Ecologist Profile: Meet Nate Hough-Snee

The Arctic Ocean outside of Kaktoviak, AK, USA 2006.

I have always struggled to describe the rise of my interest in ecology or how I became an ecologist. At this point, asking me why and how I became an ecologist is kind of like asking a backcountry snowboarder why he or she is checking the weather every 30 minutes. Ecological research and restoration have become a part of my identity – it’s just what I wake up thinking about. Oddly though, I never really anticipated that things would turn out this way. Eventually, I ended up in the woods, on the river and out in the muskeg. To narrate this I’ll focus on a few anecdotes that, in hindsight, determined the R-squared of how I became an ecologist. Continue reading