Summer in the meadow

Summer in the meadow
Beaver Creek, Idaho, USA

Thursday, November 20, 2014

#OpenAccess Journal #ImpactFactors for 2013

So, where do open access journals sit relative to other ecology and ecological sub-disicpline journals?  In short, I don't know. I do know that people are increasingly reading and citing the Open Access journals. Here are the recent impact factors for a couple open access journals in ecology:

2.595 - Ecosphere - ESA
3.534 - PLoS ONE - PLoS
1.743 - AOB Plants - Annals of Botany
2.669 - Ecology and Society - Resilience Alliance
1.156 - Fire Ecology - Association for Fire Ecology

Note that there are three more ecology journals, or journals with ecology content, that are not yet indexed:

F1000 Research - F1000
PeerJ - PeerJ
Riparian Ecology and Conservation - DeGruyter

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Society of Wetland Scientists Rocky Mountain Chapter (@SWS_org) and #RiverRestorationNorthwest Speaker Series Events!

Next month there are a pair of riparian and wetland events in Portland, OR and Denver, CO respectively. These are two of numerous "science pub" events that have become popular in the environmental fields. If you're in either the Denver or Portland metro areas, I suggest checking out these free events.

This December 17th, the Rocky Mountain chapter of the Society of Wetland Scientists presents Sara Skigen and Rod Chimner, of GEI and Michigan Tech respectively. These talks will focus on using wetlands to attenuate selenium (Skigen) and carbon sequestration in peatlands (Chimner) and will roll at the Irish Snug in Denver, CO.

Several hundred miles away, and a week prior, River Restoration Northwest will hold their December speaker series featuring NOAA Fisheries' Michael Pollock, who will be discussing the use of beaver in stream and salmonid restoration. His talk will ride on December 8th at the Lucky Lab Beer Hall in Portland, OR.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

@NSF launches new graduate education forum (@nsf_bio; #PhDChat) 

The National Science Foundation recently launched a new graduate research forum to survey early-career scientists on their experiences in their trainee (graduate student, post-doc) stages. Directly from the forum's website:

"This forum will provide the NSF Division of Graduate Education (DGE) a direct connection with graduate students, faculty, university administrators, employers, and others who want to contribute to the national dialogue. To get stakeholder input, the DGE will host moderated conversations on this forum. The DGE will post discussion questions in four broad topic areas: Diversity and broadening participation; campus to careers; the graduate education experience; and mentoring. The intent is to provide a forum for graduate education stakeholders to discuss challenges in graduate education and to propose innovative ideas to improve outcomes. The DGE will respond to general themes within the community discussion, but will not use the forum to answer questions about specific NSF programs. However, the comments and ideas shared on the forum will inform both the NSF and national dialogue about the state of STEM graduate education and new strategic directions."

So, login with your Wordpress account, check out a few questions, and provide some feedback to the good folks at the NSF. Current questions include:




Kudos to the NSF for trying to formalize some of the discussions that have already been taking place on social media like Twitter and the ecology blogs. The weak part is that democracy only works when people participate, so hopefully NSF et al. will reach out to really broaden the participating groups.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Maps of the week: #Utah and #Oregon's current snow water equivalent

Behold, another year of daily updates on the snowpack in select basins of states around the American West. Here's Utah's map.

I love to watch a big system pass through the West and then refresh maps for the new numbers.  Check out current SNOTEL maps from the NRCS here. Damn, Oregon...looking good for this early in the season. Let's keep up the good work Mother Nature, because today's snow, tomorrow's streamflow!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

#Winter rolls in? Anticipating another #snowboard season in the #backcountry.

Every year, I look forward to the first snow of the season. The September and October storms kick up and coat the hills for a day or two, but usually the snow fails to last until around Thanksgiving. Right now, we're in the midst of a storm that might get us going full on, but it's not a foregone conclusion. Here's what we can reasonably expect:

As the winter running tights find their way out of the closet, batteries get changed in transceivers, and the skins get reglued, I find myself tracking the weather, both future storms and the existing snowpack's recent history. Here in Utah, we're blessed with a really outstanding Avalanche Center, so I start to digest content and track the local mountains. I hit the Grove for the recent Snotel data and am always looking at Logan Peak, both from my window, and on the weather pages.

3" isn't quite skiable yet...and why are we still using inches instead of cm?

Cold. Check. 

Deeper days ahead...
This year's annual UAC review of the previous season is now posted to get the stoke up for a new season. and to get people thinking about the risks involved in backcountry travel, and our strategies to mitigate that risk. As it rolls in, I'm looking forward to another winter in northern Utah's hills. It's great to reflect on last season in the rearview mirror, set some objectives and then start, well, skinning and skiing again.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Photos from an early November: running version

I had a couple dense, slammed weeks afoot early this month. Big ups to Reid Camp on coming to town, Tyler King for a great last snow-free ridge run in the Bears, Lexine Long, Brian Greene, Andy Kleinhesselink and Eric Chapman for a great running trip in the Grand Canyon. Biggest ups to the National Park Service for stewarding the Grand Canyon ecosystem.
Trees growing upside down
The beard in the Bear Rivers
The gang's all here, South Kaibab, Trailhead

Air National Guard spouses: one weekend a month.
Feeling good?
Calf tightness: 24 hours later
The gang's still all here
Everyone underestimates the role of sage brush tourism in the American economy: Andy helps lift Arizona out of recession.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Moving toward a happier, more productive graduate research experience #PhDChat

We're sitting pretty at week ten of another academic year here in northern Utah. As I reflect, this is my seventh November in a research lab at one university or another. After seeing the usual recurring start to another academic year, I decided to pen some notes to address a few issues that come up within the graduate research world each and every year. A lot of people come at research from a lot of different angles, but these are my observations from many good - and a few less than good - experiences and some real talk with mentors and peers over the years.

A drone, the Utah Climate Center, and a GIF. Researchers having fun at work.
 1. Write and/or read every day if possible.

When I entered graduate school, someone once told me that my job was to "create information while mastering existing information." They were referring to the tasks that are added onto a recent undergraduate's workload. No longer is it about the straight A report card, but rather it's about asking and answering questions within the framework of a given discipline. To slide your question into that scientific discussion and framework requires a dedication to understanding what has been done, and clearly articulating how your questions build on that existing work. You can only understand where you're going by understanding the past (reading) and then verbalizing how it all works moving forward (writing). Write in a journal on the park bench. Blog. Try to form an argument on paper every day, iteratively improving and building upon it over the weeks, months, and years. Find a strategy, schedule and supportive group of people that help you write, revise and repeat. Yeah, stuff happens, and you won't be able to have the hard and fast schedule when you're in the field, etc. but it's a lofty and not entirely unreasonable goal for office weeks.

Lofty goals

2. Balance is not optional.

Research is an extremely demanding lifestyle, and one that can be all-consuming. That said, nobody is going to cite your H-Index at your funeral. During the requiem they'll talk about the places you went, the way you treated the people at those places, how good your jokes were, and how you were committed to your family. They may reference your love of esoteric music, obscure sports, and under-appreciated literature. They may talk about the way you ran your first marathon or climbed K2, how sick your violin chops were or how great you were at cooking and sharing a meal. Turn the computer off every once in a while and make sure you find the time to live outside your research.

After all, research is just a part of a balanced, ambitious life...and life's a garden, can you dig it?

Digging the garden, Naomi Peak Wilderness - 1 Nov 2014.

3. The first rule of fellowships is...don't talk about your fellowship.

One thing I've always noticed in grad school is the disparity between the haves and have-nots within a given department or college. This is especially true for graduate students who work under faculty with different expectations and philosophies. Some people teach four years, others have no-obligation funding at every turn, and the paychecks vary dramatically. When on the winning end, it's best to play it cool and humble. Nobody likes a CV appended to your email signature. People win awards all the time in this business, and people will recognize the intangibles that make an award-winning scientist by how they roll day-in and day-out.

I was once in a car with three other graduate students, two of whom are extremely productive and both fellows from large funding bodies, and the fourth guy immediately wanted to discuss his "esteemed fellowship" that "perhaps, we'd heard of" because "'s kind of a big deal." Long story short, we didn't feel obligated to drop our own titles, paper counts or grants awarded...and we really didn't feel obligated to kick it with said graduate student from that day forward.

Fellowships - speaking of which, your GRFP is due this week.
4. Admit you're a part of a team...

Boom. This is the big one. We're all the products of our collective experiences and exposure to different people. From the person who brought you into the department to the funding agency that paid for it, you're on a team every single day that you roll through the halls of a research lab. The team starts with your peers within your lab, works up to your boss, and generally cascades through the department. The team you were able to join started with a lot of things, some of which may have been privilege (economic, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc.), so pay that forward, acknowledge that society has afforded you the chance to play on a team, and then go forth playing your position as well as you can.

5. ...And contribute to a winning one.

Some teams are better than others at doing what they do, but no team gets any better by an individual competing with her/his teammates. Everybody feels a bit insecure. We all have our doubts. And we all respond differently to these emotions. If you wake up every day intent on doing your best and helping your team do their best to reach their goals, your team is going to rise. You'll build a culture of support, collaboration, and creativity that generally feels safe, fun, and allows each person to take the risks associated with striving for their personal best and to meet their individual goals. I try to acknowledge my team at every turn, because I'm stoked that (a) they keep me around, and (b) because I'm stoked on how hard they charge and how ambitious, creative, and talented they are.

The stand that grows together gets a winning view of Mt. Rainier, WA, USA
6. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.

You can't do everything all the time, and you can't do everything quickly all the time. I liken a long-term research project to a steep, trail ultramarathon: there are lots of big hills, some up, some down, and at the end of the project a lot of conscious small motions will add up to a few big ones. Make each of them count by taking the time to do them right, even if it's harder than just slamming something together quickly.
Long roads and reasonable paces, Smoot, WY

7. Acknowledge your humanity.

If we believe that everyone should be a research machine, then we're going to act like machines and demand others act like us. We're human. See #2, #4 and #5. At the end of the day, we can't be perfect, we can't do it all, and we can't justify not embracing the social, personal, and emotional aspects of the research lifestyle. Give people the room to be themselves and hopefully they'll give it back to you.

Go big and believe, Logan Peak, UT, USA
8. Believe in yourself.

I have known a lot of peers who have an awful time jumping over their own self-doubt to achieve what everyone else knows and sees is possible from them. It's hard to stand up and deliver every single day, so decrease the drag on your ascent by not letting the ripples of doubt splash too hard. A good team (#4, #5, #7) with a good culture helps people to feel like they can accomplish whatever they set their minds to. Have faith in your abilities, your preparation, and don't let the day-to-day academic negatives (paper rejection, grant rejection, fellowship application rejection, advisor beef, overly competitive peers) influence your self-worth. It's not worth it and you've jumped enough hurdles to get here. Trust your abilities and judgement and talk to friends, mentors, and if need be, a mental health professional to get you on the right page with yourself.

9. Research isn't a contest, fight, or combat metaphor.

Boom again. This hustle is all about shared relationships and ideas and mutual trust, respect and support. Strive for your own personal best and the excellence you can achieve, not to steamroll the guy/gal down the hall. The research metaphor is much more a family metaphor than anything, so don't be the creepy aunt/uncle or crappy step-brother/sister.

The view is pretty good from the top, Bear River Range, UT, USA

10. Embrace the grind.

Like running uphill, in long-term research you have to just grin, sing your favorite tune and smile all the way to the ridge. The view will probably be pretty nice from the top. If you hate running, there's only so much you can do until the race is over.

Monday, November 3, 2014

@USU_Ecology Center presents Jonathan Moore

This first week of November marks another Utah State Ecology Center seminar speaker, with Jonathan Moore of Simon Fraser University, an alum of the University of Washington's School of Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences. Wednesday, Jon will talk about current events in Canadian politics and environmental management - namely the trade-offs between energy development and the culturally and economically rich natural ecosystems of British Columbia and Alberta. Thursday Jon will discuss unregulated rivers and their ecology and conservation. Both talks should be a party!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Wrapping up Restoring the West 2014 (#RTW2014)

"We're going to focus on the riparian basics, like well-played football, we're going back to basics, tackling, running, blocking...We're going to talk about the processes that make riparian ecosystems what they are..." (paraphrase)

Beaver dams on the main stem Logan River, UT, USA
And so began my talk at Restoring the West last Wednesday. It was a cathartic moment, and one that was nearly seven months in the making. The conference we'd been planning since March was more than half done, and I was three slides deep on my talk. It was my contribution to the technical sessions, but it wasn't the only task leading up to the moment. We had 235 people from across the American West show up to discuss riparian ecosystems local and global. It was record-setting attendance and some of America and the world's foremost experts on streams and riparia presented their work alongside regional land managers and project planners. I met and hosted two new friends, went for a couple runs with acquaintances new and old, saw lots of friends and colleagues in the larger riparian research and restoration community, and slept very, very little. After getting ten hours of sleep last night, and reflecting for a moment, it was great.

Beaver Creek, UT, USA, 30-minutes from #RTW2014

  • Dave Merritt, Heida Diefenderfer, and Bob Beschta leading off and anchoring the festivities as keynote speakers.
  • Meeting numerous folks whose work I had encountered, or built on in my own research, including Marc Coles-Ritchie, Lindsay Reynolds, Bob Beschta, and many more.
  • Actually meeting Dave Merritt in person after a couple years of phone and email exchanges on riparian guilds and community ecology.
  • Seeing and hearing from Heida Diefenderfer, Mike Scott, John Stella, Malia Volke, and Alex Fremier once again. They're all impressive researchers and individuals who were very generous with their time over the course of the week. Thanks to Pat Shafroth for turning up even though he wasn't presenting.
  • ET-AL putting in some serious work on numerous posters and talks. Big ups to Elijah, Alan, Martha, Nick, Wally and Joe (who gave the pre-RTW webinar).
  • No last-minute cancellations or day-of-show technical difficulties.
  • Running/hiking with Alex, Dave, Nate, Emily, Daniel, and Julian on separate occasions.
  • Christy Meredith from USFS giving a really nice talk on the differences in ways to analyze stream habitat trends using monitoring data.
  • The always personable Kent Sorenson representing UDWR and his Watershed Restoration Initiative-sponsored applied restoration projects.
  • Mary O'Brien talking collaboration and decision-making in watershed management across the Colorado Plateau.
  • ET-AL student lunch with federal scientists on Thursday.
  • Good press from UPR, the Herald Journal, and USU QCNR leading up to the conference.
  • Great attendance for a regional conference and no poorly attended talks throughout the two days.

Dave Merritt and Lindsay Reynolds Tuesday morning talk mash-up

  • A couple speakers who committed early had to cancel over the summer and their presence was missed. 
  • Apologies that the vegetarian options at lunch were very, very limited.
  • Limited twitter use for the conference made it hard to upsell the work on display beyond the conference venue itself.
  • Shin splints and sleep deprivation.

Wally MacFarlane discusses BRAT

So, after much hard work by USU Forestry Extension's Megan Dettenmaier, Darren McAvoy, and Mike Kuhns and a committee of USU faculty, affiliates, and a student, Restoring the West 2014 is in the books. A big thanks to all of the speakers, poster presenters, attendees and sponsoring organizations. A conference is only as good as those who turn up and deliver talks, posters and participation. I have to reiterate my gratitude to Heida, Dave, and Bob for keynoting the conference and getting us started and finished on high notes.

Friday, October 17, 2014

#Riparian research and #RTW2014 featured on Utah Public Radio @USU_Ecology @CNRUSU

Kerry Bringhurst was kind enough to sit down and chat with me about riparian ecosystems, Restoring the West, and stream restoration last week. The piece ran on UPR this morning in advance of next week's Restoring the West conference here at Utah State. Thanks to Kerry and UPR for the coverage and all they do to promote science, natural history and research at Utah Public Radio.