SCCS-NY 2019 Workshops main content.

Workshops SCCS-NY 2019

Workshop participants gather at a table.

All workshops will be held on Friday, Oct. 4th, and will be 3 hours in duration. Conference participants will be able to sign up for workshops online in early September. 

Morning Workshops (9am-12pm)

Elevating Pitches: Networking for Science and Academia

Networking is the most essential skill for any young professional, especially those in the sciences. The academic arena is saturated with bland conversations and countless emails—interpersonal interactions have become an early-career scientists most valuable currency. This workshop is designed for those who attended this conference hoping to forge fresh connections and leave with new leads. It will sharpen the tools scientists and conservationists need to efficiently communicate, navigate collaborations, and fundraise. Participants in this workshop will learn how to package their accomplishments and skills, craft concise correspondence to elicit responses from partners, funders, and advisors, and, critically, develop powerful thirty-second pitches on their research and interests. With better tools and a strong networking strategy you will be a better professional and, more importantly, a better scientist. Because you never know when you’ll wind up in an elevator alongside your next opportunity.

Organizers: Michael Levin and Sara Kross (Columbia University)

Fundraising 101: Tools and Strategies to Raise Funds Through Grants and Scholarships

All projects require money to fund their activities. It is essential for successful early-career conservation leaders to know how to raise funds for their projects, organizations, and their own higher education. During this three-hour session, participants will receive tips on being successful fundraisers, learn how to develop basic fundraising strategies, gain skills developing a pitch and writing succinctly, and discuss challenges and opportunities the participants have encountered in their fundraising journey. Grantees/scholars from the Wildlife Conservation Society, Conservation Leadership Programme and/or National Geographic will also share their insights and personal experiences preparing grant applications, managing donors and provide useful tips for fundraising success. This workshop is intended for participants with minimal fundraising experience.

Organizers: Kate Mastro (Wildlife Conservation Society), Christina Imrich (Wildlife Conservation Society—Conservation Leadership Programme), Jill Spear (National Geographic Society), Arslan Ahmad (National Geographic Society)

Making Decision Makers Save Biodiversity

Two recent UN reports stated that biodiversity was declining rapidly and that fundamental societal change was needed to avert further decline and enable recovery. The reports are unprecedented in pointing to causes rather than symptoms. UN agencies cannot generate such changes; only those committed to the natural world can do so by creating and executing sound political strategies. This workshop focuses on developing such strategies. It will be organized in two parts: developing a strategy for direct protection and developing a strategy to address causes. Workshop participants will select a goal in each case to be the subject of strategic development by addressing a series of questions participants will receive prior to the workshop. The questions elicit the tasks that must be accomplished to create and organize the political support to achieve the goal. Many conservationists still think providing information to decision makers is adequate, which is a primary reason the Millennium goals and Aichi targets were not realized. Even many conservationists who are politically sophisticated frequently accept existing trends (e.g. growing human conversion of the world into commodities) and power relationships; both are incompatible with biodiversity recovery. The workshop aims to provide participants experience in developing sound strategies for mobilizing resources and bringing them to bear on decision makers.

Organizer: David Johns (Portland State University; Wildlands Network; Marine Conservation Institute)

Species Distribution Modeling for Conservation in R and Wallace

Species distribution modeling (SDM) is an important tool for conservation scientists, as it enables us to estimate present species range limits and make predictions about ranges for other areas and time periods. Advances in model-building and evaluation theory are common in the ecology and evolution literature. However, most cutting-edge methods are only accessible to those scientists who can read and write computer code. This results in a ‘barrier to use’ for many potential users. The Wallace ecological modeling application, implemented in the R programming language as the CRAN package "wallace", provides a graphical user interface allowing any user to implement advanced SDM methods. Additionally, Wallace provides extensive guidance text to help both new and experienced users learn best practices, as well as references key papers from the literature for further investigation. Each model-building session can be exported as a fully documented R Markdown script file, to ensure reproducibility, ease of reporting, and for more advanced users, an easily modifiable code. In this workshop, we will go through the basics of SDM using Wallace. We will demonstrate the key features of the software and show applications to conservation science.

Organizers: Matthew Aiello-Lammens (Pace University), Peter Galante (American Museum of Natural History), Erica Johnson (City College of New York), Andrea Paz (City College of New York), Gonzalo E. Pinilla-Buitrago (City College of New York)

The Relationship Between Poetry and Science

Poet and scientist Dr. Madhur Anand will lead a reading of poems by a variety of contemporary poets and discuss how nature and ecology more broadly are expressed through poetry. She will then lead a hands-on workshop in composing a "found poem" from a scientific text (no poetry writing experience necessary!). Laptops would be useful for participants but are not required.

Organizer: Madhur Anand (University of Guelph)

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 and work history while exploring future directions, developing skills in career planning, networking, and self-promotion, and gaining a toolset for creating and holding space for themselves in the workplace. 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 workshop where we'll do hands-on self-assessment activities, discuss varied options in conservation career pathways, and share in small-groups about the challenges and rewards of the work we aspire to do. And don't forget: the more, the merrier! We invite senior scientists and practitioners 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: Alex Moore (American Museum of Natural History), Mary Blair (American Museum of Natural History), Alexandra Sutton Lawrence (Duke University), Rae Wynn-Grant (National Geographic Society), Christian Rivera (University of Florida)

Afternoon Workshops (2pm-5pm)

Drones 101: An Introduction to Using Drones in Conservation Fieldwork

Drones have a variety of applications in conservation and their popularity is growing. But "getting into drones" can be too much for an overworked conservationist. This workshop is tailored for beginners, with the goal of taking the fear out of your very first steps. We'll cover... Drone basics: what are the various types of drones (airplane-like, helicopter-like, submarine-like), what can they do (documentary footage, maps, wildlife detection, coral seeding), and how much do they cost? Pretty pictures: what kinds of cameras are available, and how to take a "good" photo or video clip? Map making: DroneDeploy is the leading software for stitching drone footage into 2D and 3D maps. We'll take a look at how it works, and how much it costs. Alternatives: there's more than one way to make a map, so when should one use a drone? Angry birds: what to do when your drone is disturbing wildlife. Rough landings: an incomplete list of “gotchas" to watch out for (and how to McGyver a landing pad out of a vinyl table cloth). Safety and legal restrictions: different countries have different rules. I'm not an expert, so I'll just mention the basics.

Organizer: Darya Chernikhova (Gotham Green Software)

Population Genomics for Conservation Science

Next generation sequencing (NGS) technologies can now provide researchers with large amounts of genomic data at a minimal cost. This sequencing revolution has opened up enormous possibilities for advances in conservation biology by allowing us to better understand the current status and the evolutionary history of any population of interest. This workshop will provide an overview of NGS data types, as well as some potential applications of these data to questions in wildlife conservation. After covering topics such as project design and sampling strategies, we will focus on conceptual and practical aspects of genomic data analysis, including hands-on training in analyzing genome-wide data. Students will learn how to run analyses that are central to conservation management decisions, such as detecting population structure and reconstructing demographic history from genomic data. Workshop participants will also have the opportunity to discuss their own data sets or future project ideas.

Organizers: Stephen Gaughran (Yale University; American Museum of Natural History) Melina Giakoumis (City University of New York; American Museum of Natural History)

Principles and Practices of Conservation Bioacoustics

Bioacoustics has emerged as a cost-effective way to monitor and investigate critical species in both marine and terrestrial environments. In this workshop, participants will learn the foundations associated with passive acoustic monitoring, and will have the experience to record and analyze biological sounds. Additionally, students will have the option of visualizing sounds from elephants, birds, primates, marine mammals and more.

Organizers: Dena Jane Clink, Michelle Elizabeth Fournet, Daniela Hedwig, and Shyam Kumar Madhusudhana (Cornell University)

Spatial Analysis Using R

The use of spatial tools to understand patterns and processes in ecology has burgeoned over the last decade. With the availability of open source tools such as QGIS and R, our ability to map spatial patterns at different scales has improved. In this workshop, we will use the R programming environment to carry out spatial analyses. Participants will learn: (1) Basics of spatial analysis in R, including data types (E.g., Vectors, Rasters), plotting, manipulating and extracting data; (2) Advances in spatial tools used in R (E.g., Use of tidyverse - sf, Interactive mapping - mapview) and (3) Examples of manipulating land cover and climate data. Basic knowledge of R and ArcGIS/QGIS is required. Participants are encouraged to bring their own spatial datasets and manipulate them during the workshop.

Organizer: Vijay Ramesh (Columbia University)

The Importance of Natural History Collections in Conservation Decision Making

In this workshop, SCCS-NY participants will explore both the historical role of natural history collections and their potential value for conservation decision making today. Participants will also be introduced to the basic aspects of management of natural history collections for future use, data types and storage, specimen sampling protocols, digital collections and the ongoing discussions of decolonization of collections at many institutions. This will be an introductory course with a brief tour of the AMNH herpetology collections and introduction to archival resources such as those in the AMNH library. 

Organizer: Evon Hekkala (American Museum of Natural History)