Recommended Reading | May-June 2014

LegoLadyLEGO launches a lady scientist. (via Emily Nicholson)

All the EDG video competition entries are now posted on the NERP website.

Jenny Martin shares a lab tradition that has boosted positivity and collegiality.

And speaking of baking, this is how QAEco caters morning tea.

Aussie alpine herps from the photo album of QAEcologist Geoff Heard.

QAEcologist Cassia Read shows us an alternative view of the mallee, and it’s beautiful. And there’s even a book for learning more.

Here are the rookie writing mistakes that Tanya Golash-Boza has spotted while reviewing twenty academic manuscripts this year.

QAEcologist Rosanna van Hespen introduces us to her malleefowl Masters project.

Georgia Garrard and a couple of QAEco coauthors explore the influence of imperfect detection on environmental impact assessments for threatened species.

How Bayesian prediction and search theory could help find the missing MH370 flight (including quotes from QAEcologist Mick McCarthy).

QAEcologist Liz Martin describes a shit sandwich that we might actually enjoy.

Not every cook is a David Chang, not every writer is a Jane Austen, and not every computational thinker is a Guido van Rossum, the inventor of the influential Python programming language. But just as knowing how to scramble an egg or write an email makes life easier, so too will a grasp of computational thinking.

– Tasneem Raja on Mother Jones. (via The Toast)

What the adjunct teaching bubble means for teachers and students. (via The Toast)

The 2014 International Statistical Ecology Conference begins tomorrow! Here’s a run-down of QAEcologists speaking there.

Nancy Millis Science in Parks Awards for weed research

Nancy Millis Award
left to right: Iris Curran (Parks Vic), Jos Moore (Monash Uni), Bill Jackson (Parks Vic), Nick Williams (Uni Melb), Kate Giljohann, (Uni Melb), Charlie Pascoe (Parks Vic), Marie Keatley (Parks Vic) and Tony Varcoe (Parks Vic)

Each year Parks Victoria bestows a Nancy Millis Science in Parks Award to acknowledge scientists and scientific programs that benefit park management. This year they have awarded it jointly to two projects, both alpine weed control efforts – the hawkweed project led by Nick Williams and the willow project led by Jos Moore.

I’ve had some involvement in both research projects and am enormously gratified to see that the weed research these teams do is valued by a managing agency. In the case of the hawkweed project, it’s a terrific complement to the University-based engagement award that we received last year (click there for the full team list and some academic publications).

The 2014 Nancy Millis Award has received coverage on the Parks Victoria website here and here, and in the Melbourne University Staff/Student E-news.

Catching up with colleagues in the DMV

PatuxentAt the end of the SDM workshop, I followed Sarah Converse back to the DMV area for a week of less structured work. Her job is based at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, a USGS research center set on a wildlife refuge near Laurel MD. I think of it as the intellectual epicentre of environmental structured decision making and ecological statistics in the U.S. In addition to catching up with Sarah and musing over facilitation styles, I met with Mike Runge and discussed the institutional structures for and professional challenges of engaging with real environmental decision makers and problems. Jim Nichols also spared me more than an hour to talk monitoring and survey design, a pet topic for both of us.

University of MarylandOn Wednesday I took a train up to the University of Maryland, where former CEED ECR traveller Elie Gurarie is now based. His interest in modelling animal movement and encounter rates intersects with Jos Moore‘s and my desire to understand weed search and detection. They’ve been working on new models of alpine willow detection and control, and Elie gave me the latest update. He and I also have an upcoming hawkweed detection project that we’re having fun planning.

LibraryBetween all these meetings I had some welcome quiet time in the Patuxent library to catch up on my regular work commitments. I think I managed to tick off the most pressing ones before setting off on three weeks holiday….

NCTC, Shepherdstown WV

IMG_1914_colourMy third travel week was spent at the National Conservation Training Center, the hub of professional development for the US Fish & Wildlife Service. Everything about the forested campus has been designed with sustainability in mind, and they’ve created an utterly immersive environment where you can lodge, eat, meet and think without distraction.

NCTCcampusI attended their Structured Decision Making Workshop, one of an impressive suite of Decision Analysis programs offered regularly at the Center. This involves developing rapid decision-analytic prototypes for solving a real environmental management problem over five days. With Fred Johnson and Christina Romagosa, I co-coached a team of managers and researchers concerned with the spread of Burmese pythons through Florida’s Everglades (and eventually) to Loxahatchee refuge.

PythonTeamThis is a role that demands constant thought and adaption – is everyone getting a say? have we really drilled down to the fundamental objective? what kind of model would best characterise this management problem? what activity can we next set the group to obtain the information we need? Luckily for us coaches, our team committed to the process, hatched some great ideas and made important contributions to our framing of the python invasion problem. Completing a full decision analysis will require extensive data collation, some thoughtful optimisations and simulations, and regular reality checks from our team of experts; Fred, Christina, Mathieu Bonneau and I are likely to stay on hand to see this project through.

IMG_1916_cropOn our last afternoon meeting as a group, team co-ordinator Rebekah Gibble presented each team member with a challenge coin as a token of appreciation from the Loxahatchee refuge staff. It’s a lovely keepsake that I’ll pin somewhere prominent in my office, and perhaps take out on occasion if I’m seeking a free drink.