Training future scientists at the Ecological Society of America's 93rd Annual Meeting

July 22, 2008

In a world in which some of the most pressing international issues--such as renewable energy and climate change--are steeped in ecology, it is more pressing than ever that an informed public be capable of understanding and making decisions based on ecological science. The Ecological Society of America (ESA)'s 93rd Annual Meeting, held Aug. 3-8 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, will emphasize the importance of using a broad range of tools to educate future generations about ecology.

In keeping with the meeting's theme, "Enhancing Ecological Thought by Linking Research and Education," several sessions will address how to apply research activities to teaching methods in K-12, college and graduate school classrooms.

On Wednesday, August 6, a symposium titled "Ecological Literacy for All" will recommend avenues for communicating basic ecological principles and critical thinking skills. Diane Ebert-May, a plant biologist at Michigan State University, will give a plenary talk that will outline current important research topics in ecology. Ebert-May is an editor of the book "Pathways to Scientific Teaching," a collection of teaching articles originally published as a series in ESA's journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. A hands-on workshop presented by Russell Cuhel, a microbiologist (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Great Lakes Wisconsin Aquatic Technology and Environmental Research Institute), will present lessons that cover ecological data collection, analysis, development of conclusions and writing up results.

The Society's educational program, Strategies for Ecology Education, Development and Sustainability (SEEDS), offers undergraduate research fellowships for students from backgrounds that are underrepresented in the ecological sciences. Under the guidance of an established ecologist, students write a research proposal and budget, conduct research in the field or laboratory, analyze their results, write a scientific paper and present their results at the ESA Annual Meeting. SEEDS also provides travel awards to underrepresented undergraduates to attend the meeting. Once there, SEEDS students receive mentoring from established ecological researchers, ecology graduate student and SEEDS alumni students. The program will sponsor 27 undergraduates and six SEEDS alumni to attend this year's Milwaukee meeting.

Several workshops will provide opportunities for faculty to learn about ESA's programs that support teaching at the undergraduate level. A workshop on Monday, Aug. 4 will introduce scientists and educators to the web-based publication Teaching Issues and Experiments in Ecology (TIEE). Managed by ESA and supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) since its inception in 2004, the peer-reviewed publication publishes ecological educational materials, such as experiments and lecture activities, and education research, designed to foster active, inquiry-based teaching. A second workshop on Tuesday, Aug. 5, will feature five faculty sharing classroom activities they have developed and used at their own institutions in an interactive session. A Thursday, Aug. 6 workshop will introduce participants to the EcoEd Digital Library, ESA's online collection of teaching resources. These workshops aim to elevate the scholarship of undergraduate teaching.
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The Ecological Society of America is the world's largest professional organization of ecologists, representing 10,000 scientists in the United States and around the globe. Since its founding in 1915, ESA has promoted the responsible application of ecological principles to the solution of environmental problems through ESA reports, journals, research, and expert testimony to Congress. ESA publishes four journals and convenes an annual scientific conference. Visit the ESA website at http://www.esa.org.

Ecological Society of America

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