In early August, Bri and I attended and presented our research at the national Ecological Society of America conference. This was a great opportunity for us to present our research to ecologists throughout the country. From Monday through Friday of the conference, there were talks scheduled throughout the entire conference center. I was amazed by the wide array of topics; there was everything from biogeochemistry to conservation management to population and community dynamics. We used the very handy ESA program app to sort through the talks and find the ones that best fit our interests. Consequently, we also found ourselves running laps through the convention center to try to see everything! I also jumped outside of my familiar realm of soil science and nutrient cycling to attend a symposium on trophic cascades as they relate to the reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone. It was very fun to explore a different facet of ecology. There were also some very interesting exhibitors at the conference as well. We stopped by the Union of Concerned Scientists table and learned about how science can be better promoted and used to drive policy.
On Tuesday, August 8, I spoke on my work on saltwater intrusion and nutrient cycling in coastal agricultural areas. Later that week, Bri presented her work on cover crops and nitrogen leaching in agricultural systems. On Friday of that week, I moderated a session organized by Kate on sea level rise and ecosystems services. The session was comprised of five very short (<5 minute) talks from different researchers followed by a lengthy discussion period. The speakers gave a lighthearted bend to a very serious topic by dotting their talks with silly limericks and jokes. I think we all may have been a little worn out by the end of the week!
As we were bustling about the convention center, everyone couldn’t help but notice the layer of smog that hung over the city of Portland for the entire week and obscured our view of the beautiful mountains. This was due to smoke traveling south from forest fires raging in nearby British Columbia. I made the immediate connection between the environment outside and the work presented at the conference. Ecological research has such a pressing importance in our daily lives. Climate change and human activities will most certainly alter the range, frequency, and intensity of these fires, as well as many other earth processes. I left the conference with a sense of encouragement—it was wonderful to see so many dedicated researchers working towards an overarching goal.
- By Dani Weissman
Dr. Kate Tully
Kate is an Assistant Professor of Agroecology at the University of Maryland.