Election of ESA Public Affairs Committee representative


Please read the information for each nominee. To cast a vote, scroll down the page and 
select a candidate from the scroll-down menu, then click on Submit vote. 
Last day to vote is December 20, 2005 at 5pm (EST). 
The ESA Public Affairs Committee provided the following description of the
student representative position on the committee:
As a member of the Public Affairs Committee, we expect the student to attend all meetings 
(two per year--one at annual meeting and a second in D.C., which includes travel expenses) and to 
participate in one or more of the functions of the committee (PAC usually submits symposium proposal 
for annual meeting, invites a Public Plenary Speaker, organizes Capital Hill visits for members, reviews 
annual meeting abstracts for media potential, reviews ESA position papers, and whatever else the 
committee can come up with). Perhaps more importantly, we would like active participation at PAC
meetings. I am interested in a student who has had prior experience in public policy (doesn't have 
to be federal level), journalism, or some other intersection between science and the public. 
Probably best to have a PhD level student who has passed their candidacy exam and has a keen 
interest in environmental and science policy issues. At the annual meeting, the student would be 
expected to give a brief report to the Student Section. The position will last for a two year term.

Student 1

Qualifications. -My academic background is in ecology (landscape ecology, long term monitoring, particularly of bird populations, research design in general) and philosophy (philosophy of science, environmental ethics). I have spent several years of my life in remote field settings, conducting ecological research for various federal and non-profit agencies. More than anything it has been life “in the field” that has made me who I am today and I am eternally grateful for these experiences.

I am currently enrolled in an Environmental Science and Policy program where I am looking at the interface of (fire restoration) ecology and policy through the process of public discourse between private, non-profit, and federal stakeholders in determining management practices based on collaborative analysis of landscape (GIS) data. I am especially interested in how the public responds to scientific data and how we can better inform them as ecologists—because they are our greatest hope for success.

Personal Statement. -My interest, at its heart, is one of ecological design and methodology. I believe that ecology is a unique academic discipline with incredible potential, within which we are equipped with the training to examine the complex context of our own research and strategically apply that information in the design and publication of vital ecological information. We can organize and advocate in the ways that we define relevant subjects for research, coordinate amongst ourselves to tackle complex environmental problems, design our research with the explicit goal of efficiently interfacing with policy-makers, and make public education and understanding of primary importance. The ideal balance for ecology is one that maintains the integrity of the science while also continually expanding the boundaries of its scope and influence, through both research applications and throughout the process of our education. The closer to this ideal we can be, the more effective we will become.

Student 2

Qualifications. -Hello. I am a Ph.D. Candidate at Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA studying the effects of fire management on vegetation community structure in the New Jersey Pine Barrens.  Why am I qualified for this position you might ask?  I have interest and experience in communicating ecological knowledge to decision makers.  I have worked with the Army at the Pentagon providing ecological information to the military to mitigate land management and endangered species issues.  I am also an active ESA member. I participated in Congressional Visit’s Day activities to promote continued federal support for scientific research. I was a SEEDS Mentor at the last ESA Meeting and I am currently working with the Student Section to develop a “Buddy System” a method for students to connect at future ESA meetings. Additionally, I have held past leadership roles, as president of my departmental graduate student organization.

Statement of purpose. -I am excited that ESA has decided to add a student position on the Public Affairs Committee (PAC). As our field of Ecology becomes increasingly interdisciplinary, one of the goals of ESA is to effectively communicate and clarify ecological knowledge to policy makers and the public at large using the best available science. What better way to promote communication across disciplines than through student involvement?  Students are such an integral component of ESA; I think this position will add great value and diversity to the PAC that can only be beneficial to ESA.  As students we are conducting cutting edge research that is germane solving current environmental problems.  Active student participation in the PAC will promote student concerns not only to the public but within ESA. I am confident I’m up to the challenge of the position and would be honored to serve the Student Section in this capacity.

Student 3

Qualifications.- I am currently a Ph.D. candidate with the North Carolina State University Department of Zoology.  Before entering graduate school I worked as an environmental scientist with a local consulting firm and as a program assistant with a NC State extension and outreach program.  For the outreach position I facilitated several local stakeholder groups in developing policy recommendations to improve water quality in their watersheds.  My position included communicating technical information and educational materials to local citizens and officials, facilitating monthly stakeholder meetings, and compiling a monthly newsletter.  Most recently I have I have served as President, Vice President, and Graduate Student Symposium Coordinator for the Zoology Graduate Student Association.  Through my work in university, corporate, and outreach environments I acquired a variety of professional skills, including the talent to communicate effectively with co-workers and clients, the patience to research subjects thoroughly, and the fine art of maintaining a positive attitude everyday.

Statement of purpose. -In addition to providing ecological information via first-rate research and peer-reviewed publications, ecologists’ roles in society include effectively communicating their research to non-biological audiences such as policy makers and the media.  Communicating science effectively includes presenting our ecological knowledge in ways that will reduce misinterpretations and misuse.  I would like to be a part of the ESA Public Affairs Committee to contribute directly to this process, providing a graduate student perspective.  I am motivated to conduct and communicate ecological research with enthusiasm and creativity in order to contribute positively to the scientific community.  Participating as a graduate student on this committee is an excellent opportunity to achieve these goals and to work with a dynamic group of ecologists, decision makers, and representatives of the media with similar goals.

Student 4

Qualifications and statement of purpose.-I am a fourth-year doctoral student in community ecology with graduate training in economics, public policy, and law.  I also have practical experience gained from working on several policy-related projects.  I've coauthored a World Bank briefing on the economic and environmental potential of including avoided deforestation carbon credits in the Kyoto Protocol for the test country of Papua New Guinea.  I produced policy and educational briefs for the North Dakota Farmers Union and USGS on the future of U.S. carbon markets and the potential for carbon storage in agricultural, rangeland, and managed-restored wetland systems in North Dakota.  I also contributed to a NASA-GISS report evaluating potential environmental and economic benefits of an extensive green roof program for New York City.  Finally, I've coauthored a book chapter examining how well the Endangered Species Act preserves ecosystem functioning and services. These experiences have led me to understand many of the difficulties ecologists face in making our science comprehensible and relevant to policy-makers and the general public.  In spite of the challenges, this type of meaningful communication is critical to sound environmental decision-making, from the level of personal resource consumption to federal environmental legislation, setting future research agendas and determining the availability of research funds.  It is essential that the ESA continue to engage politicians and the public on environmental issues and for students to take an active role in this process.  Through the PAC I hope to encourage greater participation by ESA students in informing environmental policy decisions and promoting ecological awareness.

Student 5

Qualifications.- I am a second year PhD student in Forest Ecology at Oregon State University (OSU). My research is focused on the influence of management, previous fires, and vegetation on wildfire severity. In addition to my role as a student, for the past 18 months I have worked as a freelance writer for the US Forest Service, PNW Research Station. I write PNW Science Findings—a monthly publication with a circulation over ten-thousand—that popularizes Forest Service research projects throughout the Pacific Northwest. In 2003, I received an M.S. in Forest Policy from OSU. My master’s research was an investigation of the economic costs and ecological benefits of coarse-filter conservation strategies using landscape simulation models. I have a keen interest in the science/policy interface and have co-authored several peer-reviewed articles in this area; for example, one on the implementation of the Forest Service’s species viability clause and another on legal implications of multi-owner ecosystem management. 

Statement of Purpose.- I would be excited and honored to serve on the ESA Public Affairs Committee (PAC). It is important that the PAC receives the benefit of a student’s perspective. After all, we are twenty percent of the ESA. In addition, it is important that the Student Section of the ESA is aware and engaged with the activities of the PAC. Our future careers, the availability of research funding, and the ecological policies that will affect our lives are all influenced by the PAC.  If elected, I feel I could be an effective conduit linking the ESA Student Section and the PAC—and that would be my focus.  

Student 6

Qualifications.- I feel I possess two principal qualifications for this position.  The first is an experiential understanding of the communication of the salient conclusions, methodology, and implications of a breadth of ecological research to the layperson.  The second is a zeal for the idea that such communication is as important an aspect of our roles as scientists as any analysis may be. For the past four years, I have been a teaching assistant in Physiological Ecology and Evolution and have helped develop laboratory modules for those courses, as well as for a local high school.  My research in community structure has given me a wide working knowledge, combining long-term abundance data, novel phylogenetics, invasion theory, and statistical modeling.  My coursework has included multiple environmental policy and management classes.  As an undergraduate, I was employed by my university’s Office of News and Publications, creating a series of releases for the general public.

Statement of Purpose.- American ecological science is practiced almost entirely with the patronage of the American citizenry.  While it is Congress’ discretion that determines whether public valuation of science is faithfully transmitted to research through funding, it is the role of researchers to translate scientific knowledge into the public understanding that engenders that valuation.  It is clear, however, that a more politicized and agenda-driven process threatens this cycle.  I therefore feel the PAO’s efforts should be directed at the most proximate and the most long-term inputs into this cycle: Congressional advising and primary education.  Although the former is a strength of the Society, there can be no doubt that it is taking on a special urgency.  The latter is an insistence that the scientific method be taught early on as our fundamental way of knowing, and that ecological interdependence be an early context for the teaching of the systems of our planet.

Student 7

Qualifications.- I am committed to advancing a public dialogue exploring both science and policy.  Toward that end, I have acquired experience working with a NGO, a journal, and a public radio station.  I have researched scientific aspects of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act for an environmental group pursuing legal action to preserve land—firsthand exposure to the spinning of biology for specific policies.  I have also worked as the Managing Editor of the Endangered Species UPDATE, an independent national journal focusing on research and policy issues connected to species conservation.  Currently, I work with the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, where I research environmental news relevant to the Great Lakes region.  I am a Ph.D. candidate at University of Michigan, where I study the behavioral ecology migratory songbird populations; in the past I have collected field data on six projects from the coastal prairies of Texas to the tundra of northern Alaska.

Statement of Purpose.- As an ecologist, I have two primary goals.  First, I research questions that improve our basic understanding of ecological systems while also contributing to the management of natural resources.  For example, my current research differentiates between the mechanisms accounting for distributions of breeding songbirds, the results of which can be used to inform stewardship practices.  Second, I feel compelled to broaden the public role of science, to reach both my colleagues and the general public.  If we want to incorporate considerations of ecosystem health into policy and management decisions, it is critical that scientific evidence not be restricted to the pages of technical journals.  By translating results into everyday parlance, scientists can further “generalize” their work by motivating informed policy.  In light of current, alarming rates of environmental change, promoting the intersection of science and policy has never been more significant.

Student 8

Qualifications.- I am a Ph.D. candidate at Arizona State University and have been a member of ESA since 2002, presenting my research at the annual meetings in 2004 and 2005.  Currently, I am involved in the planning of several activities for the 2006 meeting, including a statistics workshop and a session on how to get a post-doc.  I bring a range of experiences in teaching, research, and extra-curricular activities, including experience working and/or volunteering with government and non-profit organizations, both in the US and Latin America.  I also served for two years as the chair of an interdisciplinary research symposium at ASU and recently completed a course on science, technology, and public affairs.  Although I have a great deal yet to learn, I feel that my background has prepared me well for the position and would allow me to represent the diverse interests of the graduate student members of ESA.

Statement of Purpose.- I believe that most ecologists are interested in public affairs, but do not know how to get involved.  Moreover, existing opportunities are very competitive and require a long time commitment, excluding most applicants.  To remedy this situation I would like to provide clear guidance for students interested in policy issues, and increase the number of policy-related opportunities for (busy) young ecologists.  Along these lines I propose: 1) Additional policy-related sessions at annual meetings; 2) Week-long short courses for grads and post-docs; 3) An on-line course accessible to grads and post-docs that would count for credit at their home institutions; and 4) Increased funding for policy internships.  Achieving these goals will require the support of ESA and our home institutions.  Luckily, the Ecological Visions Report recognizes the need for us to enter the policy arena making this an opportune time for young ecologists to show their interest and push for increased involvement.

Student 9

Qualifications.-I possess a diverse set of experiences in research and public outreach that make me well-qualified for a position on the ESA Public Affairs committee.  I am a stream ecologist examining terrestrial-aquatic linkages in human-altered landscapes, specifically agricultural streams and suburban forested watersheds.  As part of my dissertation research I have partnered with farmers and landowners, as well as agents from local Soil & Water Conservation Districts.  I have participated in extensive public outreach and education, speaking to over 1000 school children about periodical cicadas and making multiple appearances in local and national media, including the Chronicle of Higher Education and CNN, to talk about insect ecology.  I led my graduate program student organization as president for two years and have served on numerous program and departmental committees.  Currently, I am receiving formal training in public policy through a course highlighting the policy and planning of Chesapeake Bay restoration.

Statement of Purpose.-As a student of stream ecology, I am aware of the consequences of land use on ecosystem structure and function.  Thus far in my career, I have focused on basic ecological research relating to human-induced environmental modifications.  I look forward to serving on the ESA Public Affairs Committee as an opportunity to extend beyond basic research by translating and interpreting important ecological findings for lawmakers, policy shapers and more importantly, the general public.  I think that we, as ecologists, have an important responsibility to educate and inform the public in order to thwart future ecological problems and quickly respond to current change.  Living in the Washington, D.C. metro area, I have witnessed first-hand the critical need for involvement of ecologists in the decision-making process, and I look forward to becoming an active participant in the activities of the PAC, particularly facilitating interaction between ESA student members, the public, and lawmakers.

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