Harvard Forest post-conference debrief highlights benefits of ASM

Network News Fall 2012, Vol. 25 No. 3
Site News

The Harvard Forest (HFR) LTER sent its largest and most active contingent yet to this year’s All Scientists Meeting (ASM). Collectively, the group led or co-led nine working groups on topics such as communication, undergraduate student training, and forest foundation species. They also presented 13 posters, led several ad-hoc meetings, and participated in several meetings devoted to education site representatives, graduate students, and information managers.

HFR devoted a significant amount of institutional funding to leverage support from the Network Office to ensure HFR representation by not only lead scientists, post-docs, graduate students, and information managers, but also educators (including a K-12 teacher), communication staff, and senior and junior administrators. David Foster, Director of the Harvard Forest, remarked, “I was struck by the large number and diverse group of Harvard Forest affiliates who asked to be included in the ASM experience having heard such good reports from others in the past. Forging  an identity beyond 25 individual sites and bringing people together to interact, listen, work together and forge new connections is a critical mechanism for generating solid integrated science, education, and communications.”  

Upon their return to Massachusetts, HFR organized a “lab group” session to allow all those who attended ASM to share their experiences and to bring the much larger Harvard Forest group, including visiting fellows, up-to-date on what is happening in the LTER Network.

Participant reponses

 “The communicating science workshop was great. I’d been to plenaries on the topic before, but the work group format was much more helpful – useful, specific practices to follow in communicating science to various audiences. I am using this information right now.” - Audrey Barker Plotkin, LTER site coordinator

“As a new member of the Network, it was extremely useful to meet others in the Network and to get a sense of the range of research, particularly the diversity in the ways different sites engage in social science.” - Anne Short, LTER V co-PI

“The ASM provided a rare opportunity for information managers, scientists, and NSF program officers to discuss (in person) the future of information management in the LTER network and the role of the network office.” - Emery Boose, information manager

“As a grad student I find I am usually very focused within my discipline and do not often think about how to expand the scope of my research to different fields. There were very useful discussions and perspectives for ‘Broader Impacts’ type thinking for grant writing, etc.” - Eric Morrison, graduate student

“There is no other meeting that allows communications and education professionals to meet and truly plan with scientists and students—players who are crucial to the success of our work. The extended working-group format is an especially productive tool for synthesizing best practices from a variety of perspectives. If I had to only choose ONE conference out of the range I regularly attend, it would be this one.” - Clarisse Hart, outreach & education manager

By Clarisse Hart (HFR)