As Abstract Season is underway (I have so many conferences I’m considering this year!) I thought it’d be a smart idea to finish up recapping some of my 2018 experiences. As part of my flurry of travel last semester I spent November 8 – 9 attending the Explore Neon Workshop at NEON’s headquarters in Boulder, Colorado. Looking back, I’m still shocked that so much information and guidance was conveyed in just two days! Myself and several other graduate students traveled to NEON, learned how to access and work with NEON data, and interacted with NEON science staff. I really enjoyed working with data alongside a group of ecologists/botanists/biologists/etc (no shade, statisticians, but ecologists will nerd out with me about nature AND data).
What is NEON?
The National Science Foundation’s National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) is a continental-scale ecological observation facility that collects and provides open data from field sites across the US. This project has been in the development and planning stages for several years and is now shifting into the beginning of its 30+ years of monitoring producing consistent, comparable, high-quality data. The ultimate goal is to collect data that can characterize and quantify how ecosystems across the 20 ecoclimatic domains are changing.
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.
At various points along your PhD journey it can seem like life ceases to exist beyond your pile of papers, monitors full of code, or wall of caffeine. Sometimes it may be hard to find the time to venture outside your office, let alone your town, state, province, country, etc. In this and many other regards, the academic life is not without its stresses and pitfalls, but the opportunities to travel for conferences and research are some of the best parts. The bi-annual International Statistical Ecology Conference (ISEC) has been on my radar for some time, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to extend a trip to St. Andrews, Scotland into a full fledged honeymoon around the Scottish highlands. According to my twitter profile, I’m often a traveler, and I think I’ve developed a few good packing practices I would love to share with all of you.
Nearly five years after my last European adventure, I’m once again packing my trusty 60L pack and jetting off, only this time with my darling husband accompanying. When packing for this trip there were several considerations at the forefront of my thought process. I knew how I packed for my 3 month long European trip 5 years ago thanks to this previous STS post. While I ended up packing a few of the same items (!!), this trip has a different focus and thus different packing needs. First, I needed conference clothes as well as clothes for hiking and exploring and I wanted to look super cute as often as possible because I am a proud fancy scientist.
Luckily, since I am so used to packing for research/camping related trips, I am not disappointed by the lack of space for super cute clothes. ~ Meridith circa 2013. My, my how I’ve changed.
Next, I wanted to pack a few things to help reduce my carbon footprint while traveling (even though flights are a big one! Two quick links about carbon offsets: why and Rachel’s recommendation for where to buy). Finally, while we aren’t truly backpacking, I did need to consider weight. Admittedly my packed ended up way heavier than I anticipated, and as I’m writing this post I’m noticing some areas where I could maybe, sort of, perhaps packed less. A thought I will not admit to my husband. Ever. My pack is perfect.