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The President's Environment

The President's Environment is published 3x/year. Past Issues of the President's Environment can be found in the archives of The Bulletin.

Collaborations and their importance to our science!

By President Randy Fuller

October 2013


I think most of us recognize that collaborative research often makes more significant discoveries because of the broader scope of the project and the greater investment of both expertise and personnel. Benefits from these interactions are spread across all who work on the project, whether they are the professionals in different fields, their graduate students, undergraduates or technical support staff. All learn from each other, and the product of these collaborations is often a much better understanding of the system under study.

As a professional society, SFS also has begun to establish collaborations with other societies through our affiliation with the Consortium of Aquatic Science Societies. The work of CASS has led to two congressional briefings related to freshwater science issues that were well attended by congressional staff, government agency workers and affiliates of various NGOs. We are broadening our outreach activities with this organization by participating in the Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C. in April. The CASS booth will highlight the importance of conservation of freshwater habitats from the headwaters to rivers, wetlands and ultimately the ocean. The festival is attended by all age groups and the intention is to provide educational activities and materials that highlight the importance of different fields of science and engineering. We are in the development stages of identifying educational activities for different age groups and I would welcome any suggestions you might have. One interesting idea from SWS is to use paint roller pans to simulate a drainage basin with the ocean (or lake) at the bottom and the land would be the sloped portion of the pan – painted green. You then use different colored sprinkles to simulate different assaults on the land – red for pesticides, brown for manure and use spray bottles to simulate rain and watch where the sprinkles go! I will never look at brown sprinkles with the same level of desire again. The real point being that the associations we foster with other organizations help us to learn varied and interesting ways to communicate our science to different segments of society. I hope we can expand our outreach to other organizations to further the preservation and conservation of freshwater resources.

This past summer, Dave Penrose and I attended the Symposium for European Freshwater Sciences Meeting in Muenster, Germany. We were impressed with the program, the talks, and the various opportunities to gather informally with colleagues from across Europe and throughout the world to discuss our common interests in freshwater systems. These biennial meetings are organized by the European Federation for Freshwater Sciences which is comprised of almost 14 national aquatic science societies that have been gathering collectively for 16 years. I was impressed with the way sessions were organized around processes in different freshwater habitats to more broadly demonstrate the on-going work in different systems. We are working with three other aquatic science societies to organize the first Joint Aquatic Sciences Meeting to be held May 18-23 in Portland, Oregon, which will provide a venue for similar collaborations among members of the Phycological Society of America, the Society of Wetland Scientists, and the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography. The organizers will have sessions that focus on similar processes across different systems (lentic and lotic) to maximize opportunities for cross-system discussions. I believe these will provide many opportunities for each of us to broaden our understanding, and perhaps promote future collaborations. I certainly am looking forward to these meetings and hope to see many of you there!

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