Attending the ESA conference

Posted by Jessica Shade on Wednesday, August 29 2012

Editor's Note: The Ecological Society of America (ESA) was held this year in Portland, Oregon, and was attended by over 3,500 ecologists from all walks of life. Among the attendees were several Switzer fellows, including Kathryn Theiss and Jessica Shade, who met briefly for a small ESA Switzer reunion.  Jessica sent us this update from the conference.

In March, Kathryn Theiss successfully defended her Ph.D. dissertation on the conservation of a rare orchid in Madagascar. Kathryn is currently working as an NSF funded post-doctoral scholar at her undergraduate institution, Willamette University (Salem, Oregon) where she is using integrative taxonomy to examine concepts of "species" in Camas lilies. Her fieldwork takes her around the Pacific Northwest, down into California and over to Kansas.

Jessica Shade (left) and Kathryn Theiss (right) at the ESA conference in PortlandI am currently finishing my PhD at UC Berkeley in Integrative Biology.  My dissertation focuses on conservation genetics and restoration practices, and I use this research as a tool to connect communities to local environmental issues. Because of this dedication to public engagement in environmental biology I was awarded the 2012 Eco Service award. The Eco Service award is presented by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) in partnership with the Student Section of the Ecological Society of America (ESA-SS) to honor young scientists for their extracurricular contributions to ecology through education, outreach, and application.

This year’s ESA conference centered on preserving, utilizing, and sustaining our ecosystem. Both Kathryn and I presented at the meeting. Kathryn’s presentation focused on the effects of orchid harvest on population persistence, and I presented my research on the evolutionary forces acting on plants with differing mating systems.

Next year the ESA conference will be held in Minneapolis, MN. One thing to look forward to is the EcoArt festival, an annual display at the ESA meeting of art pieces that use innovative tools for science communication. Also keep an eye out for "Musician's night", an ESA open-mic event for musicians. We hope to see you there!

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