In our second of this blog series highlighting the many diverse backgrounds and paths in ecology, we talked to NEON's Jeb Timm, who grew up in and works in semi-remote Alaska, about his current role and any advice he has for the next generation of ecologists—particularly those pursuing technical or vocational paths into the field.
We spoke with Shalane Frost, one of NEON's assistant Domain managers for field operations in Alaska, about her unique career path and balancing her ecology studies with her athletic career. Frost believes that a career in ecology should not be one-size-fits-all, and that people in STEM—especially women—should feel empowered to explore a variety of paths that incorporate ecology into their academic and professional journeys.
Six teachers and more than 50 students across Puerto Rico had the opportunity to explore ecological questions using NEON data as part of the 2021 PR NEON Data Jam. The event, coordinated by Forward Research and sponsored by Battelle, was built on the LTER model using NEON data from the Guánica Dry Forest (GUAN) site in Puerto Rico (D04).
We spoke with Dr. Corinna Gries, one of the Environmental Data Initiative (EDI) leads at the University of Wisconsin with decades of experience in data management, about the benefits of digitizing data and making it more publicly accessible. Her unique career path provides a window into the increasingly critical—yet often overlooked—intersection of technology, scientific research, and data management in STEM fields.
As 2021 comes to a close, we want to highlight the exceptional work delivered this year by the National Ecological Observatory Network. Here are some of the most exciting news items involving the NEON program over the past year.
We recently asked Hawaii-born NEON Senior Field Ecologist Shea Uehana to share about his work with the ecological project, his path into the field of ecology, and how his background informs his current work.
NEON's Ambassador Program is envisioned to empower and connect researchers and educators who are eager to engage with their communities. They will help their communities use NEON to accelerate scientific discovery, enhance educational opportunities, increase diversity and inclusion of the scientific community, and/or inform public policy. The inaugural cohort of NEON Ambassadors will contribute to a community-driven design for the new program.
While some people find bugs to be scary or gross, Dr. Roisin Stanbrook hopes to change that perception by showing how insects are critical to the conservation of our natural world. In addition to detailing her fascinating work with dung beetles, Stanbrook discussed how her non-traditional path to conservation ecology is an asset in the long run, and how she hopes to teach her students the same.
We spoke with Dr. Bala Chaudhary, assistant professor of Environmental Science and Studies at DePaul University, about her career, about how the lack of representation of people of color – both while she was in school and in her professional career – drives her to work toward creating a more equitable academic system, and she shared insightful ways that universities and labs can improve.
Recently, SciTeens partnered with Florida State University to offer a virtual Data Science Camp for high school students in Florida. Participants learned how to manipulate and analyze data in the Python computer language and present data at a college level. The students in the Ecological Data Science Camp explored data from the NEON program and had an introduction into techniques for importing and analyzing the data.
This month, Dr. Erin Hotchkiss talked with us about her current and upcoming projects, including a collaboration with NEON using sensors at NEON stream sites to investigate the relationships between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.
The National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) and NEON have developed an open resource onboarding document geared to support researchers beginning their postdoctoral work with NEON - it can be easily adapted for other early career scientists entering roles.
Our list of 'NEON Women to Watch' honors women we highlighted this past year whose educational and professional experiences provide a fascinating glimpse into women's paths in academic science, the crucial role of mentors and advocates in a student's development, and how the field can be more inclusive going forward.
The pandemic has created new challenges for educators—but that doesn't mean learning has to stop. The Ecological Research as Education Network (EREN) collaborated with the NEON program in 2020 to create a series of Flexible Learning Projects that enable students to practice hands-on field ecology wherever they are—on campus or at home.
AGU's Thriving Earth Exchange Program has welcomed the newest cohort of Community Science Fellows, and first in partnership with NEON! This cohort is comprised of field staff across 12 of NEON’s Domains. Beginning in February 2021, they will be conducting outreach to communities within their Domains, and ultimately working with them to launch collaborative, co-developed community science projects that produce on-the-ground impact through application of NEON’s data and resources.
SciTeens is the brainchild of founders Carlos Mercado-Lara and John Sutor, who started the organization in 2018 when they were high school seniors. Their mission is to make free STEM resources – including data science resources – accessible to all students through online curricula, outreach, and mentoring. They leveraged ecological data from the NEON program to create their first data science projects.
NEON and the Ecological Society of America established a NEON-ESA Early Career Scholars (NECS) program for 2020 to support a group of early career scholars attending ESA2020. The chosen scholars received registration to the Annual Meeting, which centered on the theme of "Harnessing the ecological data revolution," and benefited from virtual networking with NEON.
Dr. Harmon-Threatt, associate professor of entomology at the University of Illinois School of Integrative Biology, discusses how her mentors first opened her eyes to the possibility of pursuing a career in ecology and how she hopes to provide the same opportunities to her female students, especially those of color, to increase the representation of women of color in academia and the natural sciences.
The NEON program is excited to welcome our first cohort of Postdoctoral Fellows! Starting in January 2021, these three early-career scientists will be working in collaboration with NEON staff and the wider user community to leverage NEON data for scientific discovery.
Dr. Nyeema Harris, Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan, discusses her work in conservation biology with lions and large carnivores, community ecology, urban ecology, and global change biology. Her work has given her the opportunity to share access to ecological study with more women and people of color.
Dana Chadwick, post-doctoral research fellow at Stanford University, shares her experiences with mentorship, both as a mentee and as a source of support for her own students, and describes the importance of research opportunities around the world for building important skill sets.
Dr. Monica Papes, assistant professor and Spatial Analysis Lab Director at the University of Tennessee Knoxville, spoke with us about how an encouraging student advisor provided her with opportunities that changed the focus of her research, and how a more diverse department helps her to feel confident about her place in academia.
Jennifer Cotton , an assistant professor in the Department of Geological Sciences at California State University Northridge, who specializes in paleoclimatic and paleoenvironmental reconstructions of terrestrial ecosystems, shares with us her experiences with mentorship, both as a mentee and as a source of support and inspiration for her students.
Dr. Angela Strecker talks about her career path into ecology, describes how she’s learned to open up about her own experiences to help students, and talks about the important work she does related to invasive species’ impact on our environment.
In our conversations with female ecologists, we’ve heard themes about how to not only recruit women into STEM fields but also how to retain women in professional roles within scientific and academic institutions. The value of mentors for female students and early-career scientists cannot be overstated, for example.
Dr. Sydne Record's educational and professional experience provide a fascinating glimpse into women’s paths in academic science, the crucial role of mentors and advocates in a student’s development, and how the field can be more inclusive going forward.
In recent years, the persistence of gender disparities in STEM fields has become a concern for educators, research institutions and commercial firms. We asked Dr. Nancy Glenn about her experience as a woman in ecology and how the field can continue to encourage gender diversity.
What can a ground beetle tell us about the environment? Quite a lot! This diverse and ubiquitous family of insects provides a window into environmental health and change. Erik Oberg, a biologist at Yellowstone National Park, is leading an ambitious beetle-biodiversity initiative on the Northern Range of the park.