To promote cross-disciplinary dialogs on issues of global importance, we introduce a new format where we will have duo speakers on some days with complementary expertise to address the issues, covering both the natural science aspects and socio-economic aspects.
Plenary speakers confirmed to date:
08:00 to0 9:00
Presentation: Is the Birth Control Pill an Effective Form of Contraception for Wild Fish?
It is well known that sewage effluents contain substances that affect the endocrine system and reproduction of wild fish. However, it is not well understood whether the responses observed at the organism level, such as feminization of male fish living downstream, can be linked to impacts at the population level. To investigate this, a whole lake experiment was done at the Experimental Lakes Area in northwestern Ontario, Canada from 1999-2010 and examined the effects of the synthetic estrogen ethynylestradiol (EE2) used in birth control pills on the fish populations and their supporting food web. Continuous additions of EE2 (5-6 ng/L) were made to the lake in the summers of 2001-2003; biochemical- and tissue-level endpoints were examined in several species of fish and population data were collected for all trophic levels before, during and after EE2 additions and contrasted to reference lake data. The experiment was successful at reproducing the impacts observed downstream of wastewater discharges. Male fish from the treated lake produced high concentrations of vitellogenin (an egg yolk protein precursor) and had delayed spermatocyte development. In addition, in the second and third summer of additions, reproductive failures occurred for the shortest-lived fish species, the fathead minnow, with a subsequent collapse in the population. Ongoing monitoring of the lake after EE2 additions stopped showed that the fathead minnow population has recovered. Continuous inputs of low levels of the estrogen used in birth control pills can impact the sustainability of fish populations.
Biographical Information: Karen Kidd has been a Canada Research Chair and Professor of Biology at the University of New Brunswick, Canada since 2004. Before this, she worked for 6 years as a research scientist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada. She received her B.Sc. in Environmental Toxicology from the University of Guelph and a Ph.D. in Environmental Biology and Ecology from the University of Alberta. Karen’s research focuses on understanding the effects of municipal and industrial effluents, aquaculture and agricultural runoff on fish and invertebrate populations and food web structure of lakes, wetlands and rivers, and the factors affecting the accumulation of persistent contaminants such as chlorinated pesticides and mercury through freshwater communities in tropical through arctic systems. She led a whole lake experiment at the Experimental Lakes Area in northwestern Ontario, Canada to understand the effects of the estrogen used in birth control pills and released in municipal wastewaters on fish populations and their supporting food web.
08:00 to 09:00
Presentation: The Risks and Rewards of Communicating Your Science
Dr. Andrew Weaver: "Neither I, nor most of my colleagues in climate science, started our careers expecting to be drawn into the public spotlight. As an undergraduate studying physics and mathematics, I always wanted my science to be directly relevant to society. That’s why as a graduate student, I chose to apply my mathematical expertise to problems in atmospheric science and physical oceanography. This path led to my ongoing research efforts to understand internal feedbacks within the climate system. But as many of us have experienced, science that is relevant to society also can also become highly politicized.
In this talk I will provide a personal account of some of the risks and rewards, successes and failures in science communication and interacting with the media. I will also address the importance of balancing the social obligation to communicate climate science and its inherent uncertainties-- with the need to continue scientific inquiry."
Nancy Baron: "Not a day goes by that the public and policy makers could not benefit from the knowledge of scientists to inform current events and decisions that that have the power to shape our future. Yet too often, science is absent from the discussion. Public confusion and scientific frustration over hot button issues including climate change, ocean acidification and fisheries only underscore the need for society to be better informed by science.
How can scientists rise above the clamor to communicate more effectively? I will draw on a decade of experience in the trenches as a communications coach to share stories of scientists who have taken the leap – their struggles, successes and most importantly their lessons learned. This talk will provide useful techniques to help scientists better manage their messages, deliver them clearly and compellingly, and hopefully, renew their motivation to engage in society’s most important debates."
Biographical information: Andrew Weaver is the Lansdowne Professor and Canada Research Chair in the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences at the University of Victoria. He was a Lead Author in the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2nd, 3rd and 4th and ongoing 5th scientific assessments. Weaver is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society and the American Meteorological Society. He is a past recipient of NSERC Steacie, Killam and Guggenheim Fellowships as well as a CIAR Young Explorers Award, CMOS President’s Prize, Royal Society of Canada Miroslaw Romanowski Medal and Huntsman Award for Excellence in Marine Science. He was appointed to the Order of British Columbia in 2008.
Nancy Baron is the outreach director for COMPASS and the lead communications trainer for the Leopold Leadership Program. Her book, Escape from the Ivory Tower, is a practical and entertaining guide for scientists who want to engage their audiences, ace their interviews, promote their papers and enter the political fray. She and her COMPASS team offer a wide range of workshops for academic scientists as well as scientists who work for government and non-governmental organizations in North America and abroad. Her experience as both a biologist for Canadian National Parks and as a science writer motivated her to try to help bridge the gaps among scientists, journalists and policy makers. She is based at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) in Santa Barbara.
08:00 to 09:00
Presentation: Promising Practices in Undergraduate Science and Engineering Education: Why Don’t We Implement Them?
Improving undergraduate science and engineering education for all students is a national imperative, called out in many recent reports, including the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology’s (PCAST) Engage to Excel and Excel. Globally we face profound challenges to provide adequate resources to a growing human population in the face of climate change, pollution, and loss of biodiversity that can be addressed, in part, by scientists, engineers, and a scientifically literate society. Undergraduate science education serves a range of purposes from providing foundational knowledge for all students, to preparing the future teachers who will be using the new Framework for K-12 Science Education, to preparing a STEM workforce. A shortage of STEM workers is predicted in the coming decade and improving retention of undergraduate STEM majors through improved STEM education in the first two years of college is a solution called out in the PCAST report. The National Research Council’s Discipline-based Education Research: Understanding and Improving Learning in Undergraduate Science and Engineering report provides the evidence base for effective teaching practices in undergraduate science and engineering. This presentation will explore what is known about improving students’ problem solving skills and conceptual understanding in science and engineering through more effective teaching and unpack the challenges to widespread uptake of these practices.
Biographical Information: Dr. Susan R. Singer, Laurence McKinley Gould Professor of Natural Sciences, joined the Department of Biology at Carleton in 1986 and has pursued a career that integrates science and education. She has B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees, all from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and completed a teacher certification program in New York State. Susan has directed Carleton’s Perlman Center for Learning and Teaching and worked at the National Science Foundation as a program officer in Developmental Mechanisms. Her biological research focuses on the evolution, genetics, and development of flowering in legumes with an interest in prairie legumes as a biofuel source. NSF supports her flowering research and her research on undergraduate genomics education. She co-authors an introductory biology text and is actively engaged in efforts to improve undergraduate science education. In 2004 she received the Excellence in Teaching award from the American Society of Plant Biology. Within Minnesota she coaches Northfield High School’s Science Olympiad team and works with the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute’s Renewable Energy Roundtable. Nationally she serves on the board of directors for Project Kaleidoscope, for the NSF-funded iPlant cyberinfrastructure collaborative, and for the National Academies’ Board on Science Education. National Academies committee service has included contributions to the Committee on Undergraduate Science Education, the committee that authored America’s Lab Report (chair), the committee that authored Taking Science to School (science consultant), a committee on agriculture education, and the committee on Promising Practices in STEM Undergraduate Education (chair).
08:00 to 09:00
Presentation Topic:Geo-engineering of Lowland Floodplains and Deltas
While recent debate has focused on the utility of geo-engineering in relationship to amelioration of greenhouse gas impacts, we should recognize that humans have been engineering the earth’s surface for millennia. Humans have worked to change natural aquatic systems, particularly floodplains and delta plains, into unnatural conduits of water, sediment, carbon, nutrients and pollutants. While the engineering of rivers began some 3000 years ago with ancient civilizations, serious waterway engineering began in earnest between the 14th and 17th centuries, when great canals were built, rivers were straitened and levee systems were developed. Deforestation during these and later periods, introduced vast amounts of fresh sediment into these aquatic environments; fluvial sediment loads doubled on average. A major dam (>15 m in height) has been built every day for the last 110 years, on average, sequestering hundreds of GT of sediment and carbon in reservoirs and greatly limiting the transport of sediment to the coast. This interception of upstream sediment has left modern rivers with cleaner water, reduced flood magnitudes, and discharge through fewer distributary channels that are armored with artificial levees. Today deltas are subsiding at rates four times larger than the sea level is rising, on average; subsurface mining (oil, gas or groundwater) being the main culprit. Tens of millions of hectares of our coastlines are flooded every year. Coastal retreat has accelerated from m/y to km/y as further impacted by the removal of protective coastal mangrove forests or wetlands, often to make room for shrimp farms. Human manipulation of our waterways have thus contributed to coastal land loss, reduced biodiversity, saltwater intrusion with soils turning saline, increased water temperatures, coastal erosion, loss of coastal infrastructure, and loss of wetlands. Only through understanding the global footprint of humans can we begin to develop effective policies and protocols for supporting global sustainability. We may also recognize our successes and failures at geo-engineering.
Biographical information: Professor James P.M. Syvitski received a Ph.D. at U British Columbia in 1978, where he developed a quantitative understanding of particle dynamics across the land-sea boundary. He has held a variety of appointments within Canadian universities (1978-95) and was a Senior Research Scientist within the Geological Survey of Canada and the Bedford Institute of Oceanography (1981-95). James served as Director of INSTAAR – a U Colorado - Boulder Earth and Environmental Systems Institute from 1995-2007, and presently holds CU faculty appointments in Geological Sciences, Applied Mathematics, Atmosphere & Ocean Sciences, Hydrological Sciences, and Geophysics. Professor Syvitski is presently Executive Director of CSDMS— Community Surface Dynamics Modeling System, an international effort to develop, support, and disseminate integrated software modules to the broader Geoscience community. James is also Chair of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme that provides essential scientific leadership and knowledge of the Earth system to help guide society onto a sustainable pathway during rapid global change. Professor Syvitski received the 2009 Royal Society of Canada, Huntsman Medal for Outstanding Achievements in Marine Science, and is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union.
08:00 to 09:30
Presentation Title: Domesticated rivers: rethinking science and management
Presentation: Throughout the past centuries most large rivers have increasingly become human-dominated ecosystems as a result of land reclamation, floodplain drainage, hydropower production, and channelization for navigation. Their domestication, i.e. their optimization for few ecosystem services, has fundamentally altered habitat conditions and led to the formation of non-analogous biotic communities as well as to the truncation of vital ecosystem processes. The gains associated with domestication of freshwater ecosystems have been counter-balanced by deplorable trade-offs, the most severe of which are loss of biodiversity and decrease in related ecosystem services.
Domestication of ecosystems, combined with the rapid turnover of biotic communities, calls for a fundamental rethinking of the future management of freshwater ecosystems. Persistent emphasis on an idealistic vision of ecosystems may not be feasible for ecosystems that continuously change. Concurrently, river management competes with the more human-focused targets and directives in the energy, flood control and agricultural sectors. Therefore, there is an urgent need for innovative, adaptive strategies to sustainably manage rivers. Conservation efforts will need to be complemented by, or perhaps even replaced by, increasing levels of management intervention, in order to maintain, or create, the desired ecological values of freshwater ecosystems.
Biographical information: Klement Tockner is professor for aquatic ecology at the Freie Universität Berlin and director of the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB), the largest freshwater ecology institute in Germany (www.igb-berlin.de). He received a PhD at the University of Vienna, and a titulary professorship from ETH. He has special expertise on freshwater biodiversity, ecosystem functioning, and river and wetland restoration and management. He is editor-in-chief of the journal Aquatic Sciences, and he has published more than 180 scientific papers including 100+ ISI papers. Klement Tockner is elected member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences as well as of several scientific committees including the crosscutting group on freshwater biodiversity of DIVERSITAS. At present, he coordinates a large EC-funded project on freshwater biodiversity (www.freshwaterbiodiversity.eu).
Presentation Title: Square Pegs, Round Holes: The Disconnect Between New Water Realities and Current Water Management
Presentation: Until relatively recently under Euro-American traditions water has been treated as a public thing or a commons with few centralized points of management or prioritized uses. Growing populations and expanding industrialization have propelled a shift toward more intensive water management, a trend that greatly accelerated over the past 100 years or so. The resulting administrative structures and priorities were largely driven by the desire to foster growth and largely assumed that water could be commanded to serve that growth and the environmental and cultural costs, when they were acknowledged at all, could be effectively managed. The resulting sprawl of cities and the development and “reclamation” of wetlands and arid areas has produced unprecedented prosperity and production but there is increasing evidence that that growth, prosperity, and production will not be sustainable, at least with significant changes to way water resources are managed and most importantly to the underlying assumption that water in the future will be as available as it has been in the past.
Biographical Information: Mark Davis is a Senior Research Fellow at Tulane University Law School and Director of the Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy at the Law School. The mission of the Institute is to foster an appreciation of the importance of water resources and the vital roles that law and policy play in their management and stewardship. Prior to coming to the Law School Mr. Davis served for fourteen years as Executive Director of the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, a broad based organization committed to the stewardship of Louisiana's coast. He is a member of the bar in Indiana, the District of Columbia, Illinois and Louisiana. Mr. Davis has taught as an adjunct faculty member at the Indiana University School of Business (Indianapolis), IIT Chicago-Kent School of Law, and Loyola Law School (New Orleans). He is currently an adjunct instructor at the Tulane University Law School. Mr. Davis has a BS and JD from Indiana University and an MLT from Georgetown University. Mr. Davis sits on a number of boards and commissions including: America’s Wetland Foundation Board of Directors, Gulf Restoration Network Advisory Board, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana Advisory Board, Governor's Advisory Commission on Coastal Restoration and Conservation, Legal and Land Rights Committee, LSU Sea Grant Legal Program Advisory Board, Louisiana State University School of the Coast and Environment Advisory Committee.