By Jonathan Doubek
GLEON’s 18th All-Hands Meeting and joint meeting with NETLAKE was held from 4-8 July, 2016 in Lunz & Gaming, Austria. There were approximately 140 individuals who attended the meeting; about 60 percent of the participants were faculty, scientists, and/or staff and 40 percent were students and postdoctoral researchers. 33 countries were represented, spanning 85 institutions. The meeting consisted of a diversity of GLEONites and NETLAKE’ers, and for 40 percent of the participants, this was their first All-Hands meeting.
GLEON All-Hands meetings present an excellent opportunity for scientists of all ages and backgrounds to interact and collaborate on research synergies. “As a student, it was great to be able to meet with international experts from various fields of limnology and to be able to discuss topics and concepts relevant to my studies. I had not expected to have as many opportunities to talk in such a relaxed and interactive way, such as during the working group meetings and poster presentations,” said Seán Kelly, a Ph.D. student at the National University of Ireland, Galway.
Julia Hart, a Ph.D. student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, added, “I think the general spirit of community and mentorship was my favorite thing about this meeting. With many large scientific meetings, it’s easy to get lost in the sea of people and often difficult to make meaningful contacts. At G18, there was a focus on getting to know the other participants and even mentoring those first-time attendees, like myself. The NPP mentorship program was a phenomenal way to get first-time attendees included in the action right away, while also providing a little bit of insight into how GLEON works and how to get involved with the network. I felt like I was immediately welcomed into the GLEON community and met some very awesome people along the way.”
The first day kicked off with two concurrent workshops: the Graduate Student Association (GSA)’s workshop and the NETLAKE research symposium. Corinna Gries and Hilary Dugan, both at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, led the GSA workshop. The students were trained on metadata organization and formatting and the application of valuable R techniques, such as through the R packages plyr and shiny. The NETLAKE symposium provided an opportunity for members to disseminate some of the research that has been supported by NETLAKE in previous years, as well as to discuss research outputs from their recent working groups.
The final meeting of the NETLAKE COST Action project included the symposium and a joint meeting with GLEON. Martin Kainz, research scientist at WasserCluster Lunz and lead organizer for GLEON 18, mentioned, “I hope that NETLAKE will be able to continue as an EU supported network. I think that NETLAKE could benefit from GLEON structures, in particular from the GSA network, that may be useful for a student network with the EU.”
Rafael Marcé, research scientist at the Catalan Institute for Water Research, added, “NETLAKE has an applied perspective and has been driven by long-term (5-year) objectives, I think this is something GLEON may want to mimic somehow. On the other hand, NETLAKE is a very useful brand for the European teams in order to apply for European funding, and GLEON may act as the “glue” for keeping this alive in the future.” NETLAKE was initiated by GLEON members as a regional activity in Europe. It will be exciting to see how the two networks continue to interact and collaborate in the future.
Subsequent days involved participation in GLEON’s working group discussions and ad-hoc groups. For many, these activities were the favorite part of the meeting. Elisabet Ejarque, a postdoctoral researcher at WasserCluster Lunz and a member of the host team for the meeting, highlighted that the meetings gave her “the chance to interact very closely with other researchers working on similar and complementary topics to my research.” Samiullah Khan, a research scientist at WasserCluster Lunz and also a member of the host team, particularly enjoyed meetings and discussions with the senior GLEON members during the working group and ad-hoc times.
Although the GLEON meetings focus on working groups, ad-hoc meetings, and research collaborations, they also incorporate time for leisure, exploring, and cultural activities. Wednesday evening featured yodeling, through which GLEON 18 participants had fun learning and experiencing lower Austrian cultural music and singing. After the close of the meeting on Thursday, participants spent quality time at the historic Lake Lunz for a barbecue, swimming, and dancing, which was a memorable part of the meeting for many. “The barbecue down by the lake was a really lovely evening, and it was fun to get to swim in the lake” highlighted Tadhg Moore, a Ph.D. student at the Dundalk Institute of Technology in Ireland. Seán added, “The inclusion of social and physical activities such as the opportunity to go hiking or play some sports were really enjoyable aspects of the week and I think created a unique atmosphere unlike a “typical” scientific conference.” The meeting concluded on Friday with two field trips. Participants chose between visiting the historical Vienna Water Supply or hiking in the Alps around sister lakes of Lake Lunz.
The next GLEON All-Hands Meeting will take place 27 November to 1 December, 2017 at Lake Mohonk in New York. We look forward to seeing many of you there!
Jonathan Doubek is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Biological Sciences and a fellow in the Interfaces of Global Change at Virginia Tech, and he is co-chair for the GSA.
Here are more photos (by Lisa Borre) from the week in Gaming and Lunz, Austria: