Higher Education Working Group holds first meeting

Network News Summer 2013, Vol. 26 No. 2

The Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Higher Education Working Group, officially convened during the All-Scientists’ Meeting (ASM) in Estes Park in 2012, has been tasked with improving the educational experiences of undergraduate and graduate students affiliated with LTER sites.  Undergraduate and Graduate working groups include representatives from across the Network—education reps, Principal Investigators (PIs), faculty, students, and administrators.

The group’s first conference call, led by co-chairs Art Schwarzschild (VCR) and Clarisse Hart (HFR), was held on May 23, 2013 and included representatives from 13 LTER sites. The group built on ideas generated during the ASM working group sessions, solidifying action steps that encourage cross-site collaboration among graduate students and broaden diversity in undergraduate research programs.

One action step aims to encourage cross-site research among graduate students, who can now look forward to participating in LTER student gatherings (“happy hours”) at major national science conferences.  This year’s graduate student happy hours will take place at the Ecological Society of America (ESA),   Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO), and Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (CERF) meetings, sponsored by generous contributions from PIs at the Virginia Coast Reserve LTER and faculty in the Department of Environmental Studies at the University of Virginia. PIs from other LTER sites are encouraged to rise to the challenge to support graduate student gatherings at future meetings.

 For the upcoming ESA meeting, the working group has pulled together a list of LTER-related presentations to encourage student attendance, and will also be hosting an informational booth at the ESA SEEDS Diversity in Ecology Career Fair

LTER affiliates interested in participating in the Higher Ed Working group are welcome to contact Clarisse or Art to be added to the mailing list and working group.  The group’s next call will be in October 2013 and will focus in part on strategies for building LTER data, sites, and concepts into university curricula.