Monday, May 6, 2013

Fostering cross-site interaction and collaboration.

CCE-MCR-SBC LTER Graduate Symposium held in at La Jolla, CA
by: Daniel K. Okamoto, Santa Barbara Coastal LTER

Socio-emotive interactions can yield high-powered collaborations in ecology [1].  Specifically, organic formation of collaboration or sharing of ideas between scientists often takes place over a casual meal or a drink that can fertilize unrealized and potentially powerful growth of shared ideas. 

For graduate students yet to make a name for themselves, initiation of such networking requires a forum and the provision of time and space for social and scientific interaction.    To provide a forum for imbibing interaction and the sharing of research, the CCE LTER hosted the SBC and MCR graduate students for a full day graduate symposium on marine LTER research at Scripps Institute of Oceanography in La Jolla, CA.  Participants included nearly all affiliated graduate students from three universities on March 16, 2013.   Geographic coverage of research included Antarctica, Moorea (French Polynesia), and Southern California marine ecosystems and universities represented included UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, and CSU Northridge. 

Graduate students at these sites have immense capacity for scientific interaction, on both a cross and within discipline level.   Yet due to the vast number of diverse researchers and fields involved in these sites, students among and sometimes within sites frequently have only scant knowledge of each other’s research.  This symposium introduced graduate students to one another, reconnected friends and will yield fruitful social and scientific interaction in years to come. 

Students gave 15-minute presentations and were asked to pose topics for collaboration or places where they could use additional expertise.  Research presented was diverse and a discussion followed on how to improve collaboration and interaction among sties.   A poster session and happy hour followed the talks in the afternoon that facilitated hours of discussion, accompanied by wine and excellent San Diego beer.  (Random aside: studies show conflicting correlations between alcohol consumption and both the publication rate and citation of resulting papers by societies and individuals.  A survey countries shows a positive trend between beer consumption and publications & citations [2] while a study in the Czech Republic  shows a negative trend [3].  Interestingly, the most highly cited, most published environmental scientists and ecologists tend to consume 7.17 alcoholic drinks per week, or 2.5 more than the average person in the U.S.A.…. Whatever the case, beverage consumption or no, socializing and cooperation in a scientific setting is demonstrated to improve productivity [4].)   Following the happy hour, students broke off into smaller groups for dinner and drinks into the evening.  This social and scientific forum, as it continues into the future, is likely to facilitate cross-site interactions called for by the NSF 20 year review of the LTER in 2002, albeit by a new generation of scientists. 

Graduate student Lindsay Marks (SBC LTER)
gives her presentation to CCE, MCE and SBC students
 regarding the invasive seaweed Sargassum horneri at the
 graduate student symposium on March 16, 2013 in La Jolla, CA. 

The symposium provided a productive forum for interaction and we (students at these sites) plan to continue the three-site graduate symposium annually.  LTER students with interest in, but not working at these sites are welcome to attend in the future! To get info, email the respective graduate representatives with inquiry.

Graduate students from the CCE, MCR and SBC LTER sites
at the graduate student symposium at Scripps Institute of Oceanography in La Jolla, CA. 

1.  Parker J.N., Hackett E.J. 2012 Hot spots and hot moments in scientific collaborations and social movements. American Sociological Review 77(1), 21-44.
2.  Lortie C.J. 2010 Letter to the editor: A global comment on scientific publications, productivity, people, and beer. Scientometrics 84(2), 539-541.
3.  Grim T. 2008 A possible role of social activity to explain differences in publication output among ecologists. Oikos 117(4), 484-487.
4.  Parker J.N., Vermeulen N., Penders B. 2010 Collaboration in the new life sciences. Burlington, VT, Ashgate Publishing Company.

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