By Kait Farrell
Going in to the GLEON17 meeting, I had no idea what to expect. Prior to my arrival in Korea, my only involvement with Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON) had been through the fellowship program, and I wasn’t sure whether my experience led by Paul Hanson, Kathie Weathers, Hilary Dugan, and Grace Hong would be representative of the whole GLEON group. I needn’t have worried. Looking back on my first GLEON meeting, four words come to mind: welcomed, valued, engaged, and inspired.
Welcomed: In many ways large and small, members of the GLEON community made me feel welcome as a first-time GLEONite. Thanks to Grace, getting from Seoul to Chuncheon was essentially seamless, despite not knowing Korean. Thanks to the Network Partnership Program (NPP), I immediately felt like I knew someone at GLEON, and I appreciate the opportunity to have been met by not one but two network partners, Lisa Borre and Gesa Weyhenmeyer (I guess they thought a stream ecologist at a lakes meeting might need extra supervision!). And of course, special thanks to the thoughtful and thorough planning undertaken by Bomchul Kim and his team — their hospitality was remarkable, and their efforts made our week run seamlessly.
Valued: From the first day of GLEON17 and throughout the week, it was clear that students in GLEON are truly valued as an integral and irreplaceable part of the organization. While academic life can sometimes leave graduate students feeling underappreciated and downtrodden, interacting with GLEON members was a refreshing change. Thanks to the Graduate Student Association (GSA) leaders for organizing our workshop activities, and to all the former students who were happy to provide guidance in the workshop and encouragement to participate throughout the week.
Engaged: I had never before attended a meeting quite like GLEON17, where everyone launched in to working groups with the goal of making science happen in real time. It was a little intimidating at first! I joined the Catchment/Lake Connections group (a subgroup of the Lake Metabolism Working Group), and quickly got involved with brainstorming how we could contribute to understanding the role of lakes on planet Earth, an ambitious yet important goal. I was amazed by how quickly we collectively developed a vision and a plan, and are now moving forward with our data collection and analysis. While we left G17 with the intimidating task of coordinating conference calls that span from California, USA to Adelaide, Australia, we are so far making progress on addressing our goals.
Inspired: Coming back from G17, I was reinvigorated, with plans of how I could share my GLEON experiences with collaborators in my stream-focused macrosystems research group. I was reenergized, having spent the week surrounded by such a diverse, global group of scientists. I was inspired, having been able to scratch the surface of Korean culture through field trips and free-time activities during the week. And finally, I was humbled, for having had the rare opportunity to participate in this type of meeting with this unique group of scientists.
Overall, I had a wonderful experience as a 1st-time GLEONite, and appreciate the efforts of all who helped make that happen. I hope to stay involved with GLEON, and have the opportunity to interact with you again face-to-face, be that at GLEON18 (4-8 July 2016, Austria) or somewhere else down the road.
Kait Farrell is a PhD student in the Odum School of Ecology at the University of Georgia. Her dissertation research is based at the Coweeta LTER and is part of a macrosystems project looking at the influence of measurement scale on estimates of stream metabolism and nutrient uptake rates. She is also examining the role of ‘large’ aquatic consumers (primarily salamander larvae) on stream processes.