Workshops SCCS-NY 2016

SCCS-NY offers workshops on a range of engaging conservation topics for attendees to learn new methods and advance their career. 

Workshop Session 1. 9:00am-12:00pm

Introduction to Statistics in R for Conservation Scientists

A critical component of being a scientist is being able to analyze and interpret data. This workshop provides students with an introduction to some basic data analysis skills using the free and versatile R software. The first part of the workshop will provide a gentle introduction to R for those who are new to this programming language, including importing data, constructing figures and graphics, and basic statistical techniques using examples from conservation science. The second part of the workshop will focus on advanced applications of R to conservation biology, including population-growth simulations that can be used to estimate population parameters such as extinction risk. The workshop will be suitable for students with no R background, and will introduce exciting applications that will also appeal to those who are already comfortable with the R programming language.  

  • Organizers: Dr. Erika Crispo, Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Pace University and Dr. Matthew Aiello-Lammens, Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Studies and Science, Pace University. 
  • Contactecrispo@pace.edu 

Using Social Media to Make Your Science Matter

If used effectively, social media can be rewarding and informative for scientists and conservation professionals. Social media is a significant means of communication for the general public, organizations and agencies. In fact, recent polls have shown that internet-savvy adults (and children) get a substantial portion of their news via social media and the web. Social media campaigns can take advantage of built-in audiences and the ease with which those people can share and promote your message, increasing the reach of your outreach. Social media and internet resources can also be used effectively for data collection and citizen science campaigns. We will discuss the importance of conservation communication and having an online and social media presence. We will also give how-to's and tips on successfully using various online tools and social media outlets. We will walk participants through setting up accounts with different social media outlets, the benefits of each, and tips on successfully utilizing each outlet. We will help each participant set up desired accounts for themselves or their organizations – including Twitter, FaceBook, Pinterest, Instagram, WordPress, Periscope, Storify, etc. – they can begin using during SCCS-NY.

  • Organizers: Sam Oester, George Mason University John A. Cigliano, Cedar Crest College; Joshua Drew, Columbia University; Clare Fieseler, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and Chris Parsons, George Mason University.
  • Contact: jaciglia@cedarcrest.edu 

What Am I Doing With My Life? Career Planning for the Modern Conservationist

This session will be an opportunity for participants to reflect on their own academic history while explore potential future directions and gaining skills in career planning, networking, and self-promotion. So come join us for an afternoon gathering to learn about potential career paths in conservation! Interested in industry? Aching for academia? Never gonna give up non-profits? Pretty sure you’re perfect for policy? Wooed by science writing? Then bring your curious self to our seminar, where we’ll be doing some self-assessment activities, discussing options in conservation careers, and small-group sharing about the challenges and rewards of the work we’d like to do. And don’t forget: the more, the merrier! We invite senior scientists to speak about their experiences, post-docs and graduate students to group-share their goals, and undergraduates & high schoolers to discuss their developing ideas. All you need is a notebook, pen, and your creative mind – group activities, games, worksheets, and cookies are on us.

  • Organizers: Alexandra E. Sutton, Duke University; Mary Blair, Cynthia Malone, Rae Wynn-Grant, Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, AMNH.
  • Contact: mblair1@amnh.org 

Stand Out for the Right Reasons: Designing Effective Posters and Presentations

Presenting scientific data and information can be challenging, but using the right visual language is essential to getting your point across more effectively. This 3-hour workshop on visual presentation of scientific research and work will focus mainly on posters and presentations, and will give participants tools to become better communicators. Following a short presentation, participants will be given guidelines and will work individually on materials they have previously prepared, with instructors circulating the room and assisting. The workshop will conclude with participants peer-reviewing each other’s work.

  • Organizer: Nadav Gazit, Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, AMNH. 
  • Contact: ngazit@amnh.org  

Workshop Session 2. 10:30am-12:00pm

Assessing the Risk of Resistance to Bt Crops Using RAMAS IRM

Crops expressing transgenic Bt toxins to suppress insect pests have dramatic benefits; farmers use fewer pesticides, less water, and less fuel and on average receive higher profits from Bt crops. However, there is a constant risk that these crops’ utility, and the hence the utility of organic Bt sprays, will be cut short by the evolution of resistance in pest populations. Insect resistance management (IRM) is a field of study aimed at reducing the rate of resistance evolution. IRM strategies are developed in large part with the help of mathematical models. Such models are required by regulators when deciding whether to approve a new Bt crop variety. These models represent demographics, dispersal, genetics, and farming practices. All of this complexity impedes effective critique by regulators and the public. RAMAS IRM is a tool meant to make IRM modeling more uniform, transparent, and accessible. Users can create IRM models quickly without deep expertise in population genetics. This workshop will introduce RAMAS IRM and take participants through the process of building a simple IRM model that reproduces the results of a published modeling study. Participants will receive a copy of the software to explore the concepts we cover in more depth.

  • Organizer: Nicholas A. Friedenberg, Senior Scientist, Applied Biomathematics.
  • Contact: nick@ramas.com 

Know Your Role! – How to be an Effective Mentor and Mentee

Early career scientists often play a dual role, receiving mentorship by the leaders of their research groups while also acting as mentors to less senior graduate students, undergraduates, and, often, high school students.  Both roles are critical to professional growth and to scientific discovery.  However, traditional science education at the postsecondary level does not incorporate explicit training on navigating mentor-mentee relationships. As a result, most of us have had both good and bad experiences as both mentees and mentors. This workshop will start with basic background on the theory of mentorship and current research into mentoring models. Then we will focus on practical applications for your mentor-mentee relationships. Through a combination of lecture, discussion, and hands-on activities, attendees will learn: (i) how to identify and approach potential mentors, (ii) the differences between being a mentor and a mentee, (iii) the value of mentorship at an early stage in their career, and (iv) best management practices for mentor-mentee relationships.

  • Organizers: Jason M. Aloisio, Wildlife Conservation Society (Lead); Mark Weckel, American Museum of Natural History; Robert Newton, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University and Lily Mleczko, Wildlife Conservation Society.
  • Contact: jaloisio@wcs.org 

Workshop Session 3. 1:00pm-4:00pm

Making Decision Makers Do the Right Thing

Conservation scientists are often frustrated that their work is ignored by decision makers. That frustration can be transformed into effective strategies to accomplish conservation goals even against significant opposition. In this workshop we look briefly at the factors that go into creating effective political influence. Participants will be asked to present a conservation goal they are working on—protection of a species or a place, restoration, a change in human behavior that negatively affects biodiversity or ecological health. The group will then decide which of these goals they would like to examine. Participants will then discuss a series of strategic questions provided ahead of time and designed to elicit step by step the tasks that must be accomplished to build the political support and pressure needed to achieve the goal. This includes developing an understanding of the political landscape in addition to the biological landscape. By examining specific cases with different goals in different contexts, the workshop will give participants experience in planning successful strategies—strategies which go beyond typical conservation approaches and use techniques that have worked to achieve a range of societal reforms against difficult odds.

  • Organizer: David Johns, Adjunct Professor of Politics & Law, Hatfiled School of Government, Co-founder & former Executive Director, Wildlands Network.
  • Contact: johnsd@pdx.edu 

Talking the Talk: Giving Effective and Engaging Presentations

This workshop, aimed at students and those who need public speaking experience, will give participants tips and advice on giving presentations in various outlets, including science conferences. The SCB Marine Section Communication Committee will go over tricks on calming nerves, effective presentation organization, how to edit down slides and posters, what aspects to focus on, and tailoring presentations for different audiences. We will also go over helpful suggestions on public speaking and having a confident “stage” presence. Participants will have the opportunity to practice giving their presentations during the workshop, and will get feedback on visuals and the oral presentation. Participants should bring a presentation of any length or type to practice. (Poster presentations may be practiced using a PowerPoint slide of the poster.)

  • Organizers: Chris Parsons, George Mason University; John A. Cigliano, Cedar Crest College; Clare Fieseler, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and Sam Oester, George Mason University.
  • Contact: jaciglia@cedarcrest.edu

Occupancy Modeling for Wildlife Conservation

Understanding patterns of occurrence and abundance – and the factors that drive these patterns – is integral to conservation efforts. Unfortunately, observational data suffer from false absences due to imperfect detection. These false absences can obscure patterns and, in a worst case scenario, lead us to make improper or inaccurate conservation decisions. In this workshop, we will focus on learning the statistical methods known as “occupancy modeling” which were developed to correct for detection-bias and are now widely used in ecology and conservation.  Through a combination of lectures and hands-on tutorials using statistical software, participants will leave with both a knowledge of the methods, math, and assumptions behind occupancy modeling, as well as the confidence to begin using statistical software to analyze occupancy data. Special attention will also be given to a discussion of study design and planning for those who wish to collect data that can be best used for occupancy analyses in the future. The workshop will assume participants have had at least one full college-level statistics course. Experience with the statistical program R is helpful but not required.

  • Organizer: Morgan Tingley, Assistant Professor, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Connecticut. 
  • Contact: morgan.tingley@uconn.edu 

Workshop Session 4. 1:00pm-2:30pm

Teaching to Teach; A Conservation Training Model that Works!

Do you wish to learn how to have long lasting widespread influence on conservation practices, and be part of an opportunity to network with conservation-focused peers in a tropical forest country? In this workshop, we share our experiences training college students in Asia, Africa and South America.  We discuss how we apply a “teach-to-teach” model that, through field and classroom experiences, improves expertise in local environments and enhances professional development and leadership skills. The “teach-to-teach” model also assists trainees to design conservation projects for enduring conservation education influence in their countries.  In this workshop, we provide background information about the habitats, monkeys and conservation needs of Suriname, and how we go about engaging local students.  We will also set up a real-time live networking event during the workshop to connect you with our students in Suriname. The goal is to foster a peer exchange of experiences that enlarges your conservation and educational perspectives, and helps to create a foundation for lasting networks that knit together conservation efforts from disparate countries and ecosystems. Thus, workshop participants will leave with a capacity-building blueprint on how to foster technical and leadership skills, as well as with an expanded international network of conservation colleagues.