A record 4992 registrants met at the Ecological Society of America’s (ESA) 2012 annual meeting in Portland, OR in August. The meeting opened with remarks from this year’s Regional Policy Award winner Ken Bierly of the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board and a keynote address from NOAA Administrator and past ESA President Jane Lubchenco.

ESA’s public affairs staff ran an interactive session that offered participants tips on how to connect with policymakers and media professionals and effectively interact beyond the ecological community. This topic continued into ESA’s Policy Section and Public Affairs Committee Meeting, which was convened by new Section Chair Brian Wee, Secretary Emilie Stander and Vice President for Public Affairs Sharon Collinge.

Jerry Franklin (University of Washington –Seattle) gave a keynote talk on his 50 years of ecological knowledge on forests and forest policy. Joern Fischer wrote about Franklin’s presentation in his blog.

National and International media entities covering the annual meeting included USA Today, Nature, Discover Magazine, and Environmental News Network among other outlets.


During ESA’s annual Rapid Response Team luncheon, attendees heard from Sylvia Fallon of the Natural Resources Defense Council and Dan Whelan with the office of Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) who gave their perspectives on working with decision-makers and how ecologists can effectively engage in public policy.

The Rapid Response Team (RRT) consists of a small group of ESA members who help the Society address policy and media opportunities in a timely and effective manner. ESA thanks the following members who recently completed their service to ESA as RRT members:


We welcome new RRT members:

MARISSA BASKETT – Assistant Professor for the Department of Environmental Science and Policy, University of California – Davis

THOMAS CRIST – Director for the Institute for the Environment & Sustainability at Miami University JOHN DENNIS – Deputy Chief Scientist, National Park Service

JEFF DUKES – Associate Professor of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University

DIANE EBERT-MAY – University Distinguished Professor, Michigan State University

ERLE ELLIS – Associate Professor of Geography & Environmental Systems, University of Maryland – Baltimore County

NICK HADDAD – Director of Graduate Programs for the Department of Biology, NC State University

SANDRA HENDERSON – Senior Education Specialist, National Ecological Observatory Network

JEFFREY HERRICK – Research Soil Scientist, USDA Agricultural Research Service

MATTHEW HURTEAU – Assistant Professor at the School of Forest Resources, Pennsylvania State University

TORRE JORGENSON – Owner, Alaska Ecoscience

ANN KINZIG – Chief Research Strategist & Senior Sustainability Scientist, Global Institute of Sustainability

MARIANNE KRASNY – Professor and Chair of the Department of Natural Resources, Cornell University

JOSH LAWLER – Associate Professor at the School of Forest Resources, University of Washington-Seattle

KAREN LIPS – Associate Professor of Biology and Director of the Graduate Program in Sustainable Development and Conservation Biology, University of Maryland – College Park

LISA SCHULTE-MOORE – Associate Professor at the Department of Natural Resource Ecology & Management, Iowa State University

JULIAN OLDEN – Associate Professor at the School of Aquatic & Fishery Sciences, University of Washington-Seattle

ROBERT PARMENTER – Scientific Services Division Director at Valles Caldera National Preserve, United States Department of Agriculture

ELLEN PIKITCH – Professor and Executive Director, Institute for Ocean Conservation Science

JIM POWELL – City Sustainability Specialist for the State of Alaska & Adjunct Professor, University of Alaska – Southeast

DONALD WALLER – Professor of Botany and Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin - Madison ESA


Between May and July, The Ecologist Goes to Washington podcast featured three new entries from 2012 Graduate Student Policy Award winners SARA KUEBBING (University of Tennessee), ADAM ROSENBLATT (Florida International University) and MATTHEW SCHULER (University of Washington – St. Louis). The trio discussed their research and experiences meeting with policymakers during their recent trip to Washington, DC.

CHRISTOPHER FIELD (Stanford University) testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee for a hearing that focused on the science behind climate change.


Budget Sequestration

In July, the Ecological Society of America (ESA) joined nearly 3,000 national, state and local organizations in signing a letter to Members of Congress requesting a balanced approach to deficit reduction that does not include further cuts to nondefense discretionary spending. 

The letter comes ahead of potential across-the-board cuts to discretionary spending in Jan. 2013, otherwise known as sequestration. Under the current law, the $1.2 trillion in cuts would come 50 percent from defense spending and 50 percent from non-defense discretionary spending.

 Now it’s vitally important that Members of Congress hear from you, their constituents.  Please click here to go to the AIBS Legislative Action Center where you will be able to personalize a letter that asks that Congress devise a bipartisan solution to addressing the nation’s debt crisis and avoid draconian cuts that will hurt the economy and the nation’s future, and do nothing to stave off the fiscal crisis. 

Support for NSF social science programs

In June, ESA co-signed a letter to US Senators from the Coalition for National Science Funding requesting that Congress not legislate changes to specific agency programs. The letter came in response to House passage of an amendment to prohibit the National Science Foundation from funding political science research.

Experimental Lakes Area

In June, ESA joined the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography, the International Society of Limnology, the Society of Canadian Limnologists and the Society for Freshwater Sciences in sending a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other government leaders concerning the potential closure of the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) in Kenora, Ontario. “Scientific research in the environmental sciences is not an impingement on economic progress but rather is an essential part of it,” the letter states. “We must protect the resources humanity relies on, freshwater being among our most basic needs.” ESA also issued action alerts to its Canada and Aquatic sections, urging members to sign an online petition opposing closure of the ELA.     

Preserving government workers’ capability to attend conferences

In May, the Ecological Society of America (ESA) joined 50 other scientific societies in signing a letter to Congress spear-headed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science opposing far-reaching legislation to limit federal government employees’ ability to travel and attend conferences. The legislative proposals are intended to address the recent General Services Administration scandal. “We recognize that Congress has a responsibility to prevent wasteful government spending,” the letter notes. “We are concerned, however, that the language in the amendments would inadvertently impede the free flow of scientific information and the professional development of scientists and engineers.” 


Applied Conservation Biology Fellowship
*Application Deadline Sept. 21

California Science and Technology Policy Fellowship

White House Fellowship
*Application Deadline: Feb. 1 (annually)

Congressional and Federal Agency Fellowships

American Association for the Advancement of Science
*Application Deadline: Dec. 5, 2012 (2013-2014 application acceptance period opens Sept. 1)

American Geophysical Union

Knauss Sea Grant Fellowship


EcoTone ESA’s blog EcoTone is always looking for guest contributions about citizen science as well as posts connecting ecology to policy and society. To submit a post, contact ESA Communications Officer Liza Lester: llester@esa.org

Podcasts If you have interesting work in the field, interacting with members of your community or policymakers that you would like highlighted in one of ESA’s podcasts, The Ecologist Goes to Washington or Field Talk, we would be interested in hearing from you: pao@esa.org

ESA in Action Fall 2012 If you’d like to see your work in policy or communication highlighted in the next issue, please send updates to ESA’s Public Affairs Office at pao@esa.org  before November.

21st Century Social Media You can keep track of ESA activities, events and opportunities to join the conservation on Facebook and Twitter.

ESA President Joins ‘Twitterverse’ Did you know? ESA’s new president, Scott Collins, is now on Twitter! Follow him @ESA_Prez2013.
Several ESA sections are tweeting as well, including @esa_students.

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