By Jake Zwart and Hilary Dugan
As this is a transition period for the GLEON Fellowship Program, it is a good time to reflect on the past cohort and look towards the next group of fellows. The third and final workshop for the first cohort took place at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York, USA in January 2014. The fellows could not help but feel the ecosystem perspective oozing from the walls of the Cary Institute, soaked up from years of housing an abnormally high concentration of ecosystem ecologists.
The workshop provided an opportunity to finish up scientific projects along with additional scientific training and professional development. Both working groups within the 1st cohort (‘Time’ and ‘Space’ groups) finalized their projects and have submitted their work for publication.
Leveraging high-frequency data from the GLEON network, the ‘Time’ group examined the influence of different gas exchange models on estimates of lake metabolism. There were substantially different estimates of gas exchange between the models used in the analysis, and these differences resulted in markedly different estimates of lake metabolism.
The ‘Space’ group utilized the National Lakes Assessment (NLA) dataset to determine drivers of water quality across the United States. Because the NLA is such a large dataset with a great deal of covariance, the group used a novel application of the random forest algorithm under the landscape limnology framework. This work established that lake morphology is a very important driver of lake water quality and found interesting patterns in predictors of water quality relating to lake connectivity to other water bodies.
As well as making progress on manuscripts, the fellows also networked with regional science professionals from a variety of organizations, were trained on effective facilitation techniques, and reflected on the fellowship program as a whole. The first cohort thought the fellowship program was a huge success both in terms of scientific products and less tangible but possibly more valuable interdisciplinary training through international scientific collaboration.
August 2014 brought a new round of GLEON fellowship applications from PhD students all over the US and the world (see map above). Yet again, the flood of high quality submissions was overwhelming. If the leaders of the fellowship program ever questioned the value of their novel training program, the success of the first cohort and the ardent interest in the second cohort should quell any trepidation.
It is encouraging that so many talented young scientists are interested in macrosystem science, and fellowship program leaders look forward to exploring datasets and collaborative techniques with twelve new fellows starting in January 2015. The fellowship program, like GLEON, tends to operate from the bottom up. Looking ahead, it is impossible to foresee the products of round 2; but the exploration is bound to be fun, inspiring and productive. Stay tuned!
The GLEON Fellowship Program is funded by U.S. National Science Foundation Awards #1137353 and #1137327 (NSF MacroSystems Biology Program)