#ENVR2018: A Recap

It’s been a bit now, but last month from October 11 – 13, I traveled to Asheville, NC with the Hanks Lab and several other PSU statistics students to attend the 2018 ENVR Statistics for the Environment: Research, Practice and Policy Workshop. This densely packed workshop (really it was both workshop and conference…workonference? confshop?) offered a day of workshops, two days of 30 minute invited talks, and a poster session. I like that the American Statistical Association (ASA) Section on Environmental Statistics (ENVR) is a relatively small group of researchers, which allows for students to quickly meet people (future colleagues!) in this field and learn about what sort of research is happening right now.

What is ENVR?

Unless you are a statistician who does environmental/ecological related research you probably haven’t heard of this workshop. I’ve been doing this sort of work for 4 years now and it’s the first time I had really heard about it too! (Two years ago I was still taking classes and working on research so I probably didn’t have time to attend.) The Statistics for the Environment: Research, Practice and Policy is a biennial workshop of the section on Statistics and the Environment (ENVR) of the American Statistical Association. The overarching goal of the workshop is to bring together environmental statisticians working in academia, government research labs, and industry to present and discuss research ideas and methods to address important environmental and ecological problems. Funding for students, postdocs, and junior researchers within 2 years of terminal degree (travel costs + stipend) was available and easy to apply for thanks to ENVR, NSF, the North Carolina chapter of ASA, and Dr. Andrew Finley.

Typically social media is a great way to extend the conversations of conferences and workshops online. Often organizations publicize a preferred hashtags (e.g. #ESA2018, #JSM2018, #ISEC2018) to encourage posting. This workshop may be a little too small to have gotten on board with with a social media push, but I still posted a few times with #ENVR2018 just in case anyone else did too.

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Part 1: How do I get in? Applying to STEM graduate programs

Author’s Note:  I’ve been working on some version of this post for over three years.  During that time, so many folks have provided feedback.  Thanks to Katie Smith, Joanna Solins, Priya Shukla, Jordan Hollersmith, Aviva Rossi, and (as always) Meridith Bartley.  Any omissions of important information are mine, but many of the most valuable bits of knowledge come from these individuals.  

Starting the graduate school application journey can be an intimidating prospect.  Emailing potential mentors, figuring out funding, writing a CV, and the other steps that go into the process are time consuming and challenging, even when you know exactly what to expect.  I’ve seen a lot of discussions on Twitter recently about the hidden curriculum of academia (my husband recommended this book when we were discussing the concept of hidden curriculum). Here is my crack at making this process a little more transparent.  I imagine lots of these thoughts apply broadly, but this post is geared toward applying for graduate school in STEM.  I hope the following guide can ease your passage down the path toward a completed graduate school application.

As a result of trying to cover a lot, I’ve divided this into two parts.  In part 1, I will talk about how to contact folks who could be your adviser during your graduate program, which is the first step to applying to most STEM graduate programs.  In part 2, I will discuss preparing your graduate school application materials and preparing for graduate school interviews.

First things first.  Before you begin the process of applying for graduate school, it’s good to get mentally prepared.  This is going to be a stressful period in your life. It takes a lot of time and brain power to do the research, writing, GRE studying, and interview preparation that comes along with getting into a graduate program.  You’ll be doing all this on top of your current responsibilities as a student or employee. Keep your goals firmly in mind and remember, no matter how much it doesn’t feel like it now, you will be done with this process someday soon!  You have a lot to recommend you, don’t forget that.    

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The Bodega Marine Lab during my graduate school interview.

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5 years of Sharing Science Documentaries

As a child I *loved* watching The Land Before Time. Over and over again. Every time I was heartbroken as Littlefoot is left alone without his mother. Every time Sharptooth was just as scary. Without a doubt this movie must have helped in some small way to shape who I am today. I still love finding tree-stars in the wilderness. That movie will be a part of me forever. But people remember some weird stuff from their childhoods. As an older millennials who grew up on VHS tapes, we remember the previews and commercials that came before the feature film. And as much as I hold this movie close to my heart, it’s not actually what I remember most about this tape. One of the previews for this movie was a Pizza Hut commercial with a mom dropping off her young son for a birthday party. She’s giving him all sorts of advice for how to behave and she reminds him, “Don’t forget to share. Share, share”. These words somehow got lasered into my brain. Anytime I hear the word share it’s like that clip plays in my brain.

As far as weird snippets of pop culture from my youth forever etched into my brain (alongside the Doug Funny theme song, and the (first two) Ninja Turtles movies) it’s not too bad. Sharing is pretty important. Sharing pretty much underpins everything we do here at Sweet Tea, Science. And sharing is why four years ago I created the best holiday a #SciComm nerd could ask for. That’s right the 5th Anniversary of Share a Science Documentary Day is upon us!  What started as a simple social soiree to sneak science upon some unsuspecting schoolmates and kindred spirits is still…just that. Really why mess with perfection? Continue reading “5 years of Sharing Science Documentaries”