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At the Assembly 2017: Tuesday Highlights

At the Assembly 2017: Tuesday Highlights

Welcome back to the second day of the 2017 General Assembly! Today is packed full of excellent sessions, and this list of highlights is by no means comprehensive! Make sure you complement this information with EGU Today, the General Assembly newsletter, to get the most out of the conference – grab a copy on your way in or download it here.

Today, the General Assembly programme features two Interdisciplinary events, which tackle a common theme through an interdisciplinary combination of approaches. The aim of the sessions is to foster cross-division links and collaborations.  The first session starts at 08:30 presentations from seven different divisions explore R’s deliberate role in the Earth science. Monitoring the Sustainable Development Goals with the huge remote sensing archives is the focus of the second Interdisciplinary event, which kicks off at 10:30. Both events take place at PICO spot A (second floor, red level, in Poster Hall A).

The first of this year’s Great Debates takes place today too and discusses one of the most contended topics in the Earth sciences: what really caused the demise of the dinosaurs? Although popular belief is that the Chicxulub meteorite was the sole cause of the extinction of the dinosaurs, many geoscientists are not so sure. The causes of all mass extinctions will be debated by a panel of experts. Join in the debate from 15:30–17:00 in E1. You can follow the session on Twitter with #EGU17GDB, and, if you’re not attending, tune in with the conference live stream.

Don’t forget that when you need to kick back and relax, you can head on over to GeoCinema, and enjoy a geologically themed film (10:30–19:00 daily in the GeoCinema Room, 0.90 on the yellow level). Today’s pick is Ichiro and the wave, a fisherman’s first-hand account of his boat being struck by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. It is showing from 14:30.

The day is full of fantastic scientific sessions, from understanding earthquake source processes (SM2.1/EMRP4.12: Orals 08:30 to 12:00 and 13:30 to 15:00 in Room M1 / Posters from 17:30 in Hall X3), through to getting beyond the case study: Concepts in Earth Sciences (GM1.1/EOS20/CL5.18/SSS13.1: Orals from 10:30 to 12:00 in Room L1 / Posters from 17:30 in Hall X2) and studying the climate of the last two millennia (CL1.03: Orals from 13:30 in Room F2 / Posters from 17:30 in Hall X5).

Today is also a bumper day for  Medal Lectures, there are eighteen taking place throughout the day covering various areas of the geosciences. Make sure you check the programme so that you don’t miss them. The Jean Dominque Cassini Medal Lecture by Luciano Iess (ML4: 12:15 – 13:15 / Room E1) is being streamed live.

If you’re an early career scientist (ECS), this year’s conference has more than ever on offer for the ECS community, and today is a bumper day, packed full of ECS-related activities. Meet the EGU Union-level ECS Representatives (Laura Roberts, Lena Noack and Roelof Rietbroek) at the EGU Booth from 11:15 to 12:45, to find out more about the Union and how to get involved. Throughout the day, a number of the ECS Representatives will also be available at the Booth, as will various division presidents. Check the programme for full details. If you want an opportunity to network and meet established scientists who can offer advice on anything from how to prepare a research grant to how to balance your research and personal life, why not come along to the EGU’s Early Career Scientists Networking & Careers Reception – now open to all ECS – from 19:00 in room F2. Light snacks and drinks will be served when you arrive!

The ECS lounge at EGU 2014. Credit: Stephanie McClellan/EGU

If you want to hone your transferable skills and dedicate a bit of time to developing your career, then today’s short courses are for you:

There is also a treat of Townhall Meetings on this evening. These meetings allow for a lot more open discussion than many of the Assembly’s other sessions and take place outside the usual time blocks. Here are some of the highlights:

And there’s a suite of smaller Splinter Meetings organised by conference participants too. Why not join the discussion on how to improve the data format/structure of preliminary EUSTACE-products (give publicly available daily estimates of surface air temperature since 1850 across the globe) (SMP21: 08:30 – 12:00 / Room 0.51)? Otherwise, learn about measuring ambient ammonia (SMP29: 12:15 – 13:15 in 2.61) or join the  subdivision meeting for SSS4: Soil Biology, Microbiology and Biodiversity (SMP40, 10:30–12:00 / Room 2.83).

Have a lovely day!

Communicate your Science Video Competition finalists 2017: time to get voting!

Communicate your Science Video Competition finalists 2017: time to get voting!

For the fourth year in a row we’re running the EGU Communicate Your Science Video Competition – the aim being for early career scientists to communicate their research in a short, sweet and public-friendly video. Our judges have now selected 4 fantastic finalists from the excellent entries we received this year and it’s time to find the best geoscience communication clip!

The shortlisted videos will be open to a public vote from now until midnight on 27 April; – just ‘like’ the video on YouTube to give it your seal of approval. The video with the most likes when voting closes will be awarded a free registration to the EGU General Assembly 2018.

The finalists are shown below, but you can also catch them in this finalist playlist and even take a seat in GeoCinema – the home of geoscience films at the General Assembly – to see the shortlist and select your favourite.

Please note that only positive votes will be taken into account.

What sounds are in space by Martin Archer. Like this video to vote for it.

Soil moisture and GNSS Explained by Tzvetan Simeonov. Is this your favourite video? Like to vote for it.

Lost rivers by Elisha Teo. If this is your favourite then vote for it here!

A tale of water kidneys and flying doctors by Valentin Heimhuber. Like this video to vote for it!

If watching these videos has inspired you to try your hand at using videos to communicate your research to the public, but you aren’t sure where to start & how to finance the whole enterprise, then why not come along to the finding funding for your science film short course during the 2017 General Assembly? Professional outreach and science filmmakers Dan Brinkhuis (Science Media.nl) and Saskia Medler (77th Parallel Productions) will take you through three different outreach video projects and funding scenarios of varying qualities and their associated costs. They will also give insights on whether the investments paid off by assessing the success of each film in terms of how many views, likes, or even awards they garnered, or how much publicity they generated. Join us in the GeoCinema room (0.90, Yellow Level) on Wednesday the 26th April from 10:30am (CET) onward.

The EGU General Assembly is taking place in Vienna, Austria from 23 to 28 April. Check out the full session programme on the General Assembly website.

GeoEd: Do as I say… AND as I do

GeoEd: Do as I say… AND as I do

Bridging the gap between student and teacher is not always easy. For students, the educator might seem ‘untouchable’ and inaccessible. A sense exacerbated when assignments are set and they turn out to be new, complex and unfamiliar. In this new installment of our GeoEd column, regular guest blogger Rhian Meara of Swansea University, discusses a simple approach to overcome some of these barriers, which can yield surprisingly positive results.

As teachers, lecturers and professors, it’s easy to forget quite how scary it is to be an undergraduate student. Everything is new – lectures, seminars, practical classes, buildings, cities, and friends. Workloads are increasing and expectations are much higher than at school. We can also be guilty of setting and marking coursework based on our present professional standards including expectations that students will automatically understand what is expected of them. The fallout of this is that students can get overwhelmed, scared to ask questions and plough on despite not understanding what is required of them.

During the last few years, I have taught on a second year module which includes a literature review as part of the continuous assessment. Students attend lectures, workshops and tutorials to learn what a literature review is and how to write their own reviews. However, despite the extensive preparation, there is a communication barrier and a task as simple as a literature review (to the staff) is a monumental and incomprehensible task (for the undergraduates). The students have a tendency to get incredibly hung up on the fact that a literature review is “not an essay” rather than understanding what it actually is and how to complete one.

To counteract this, I have started running an extra tutorial session for my students. In this session, I provide the students with copies my own undergraduate literature review that I completed as part of my undergraduate geology degree at the University of Leicester. The review focusses onto emplacement mechanisms for flood lavas both on Earth and across the Solar System, and was completed during the third year of my degree. In the review, I introduce four models that explain how flood lavas are erupted and transported, critique each model and reach a conclusion as to which model, if any, is most accurate. The majority of the students in the group are physical or human geographers and not avid hard-rock igneous petrologists like I was back in the day, so initially the students are quite intimidated by the subject!

As a group, we then read and discuss the literature review to identify the essential components. These include, but are not limited to, a brief but thorough introduction to the subject, headings and sub-headings, relevant images and maps, appropriate use of references and citations, thorough explanations of the subject material, critical evaluations and conclusions.

Immediate comments from the students included bewilderment at how “professionally written” the work was which led to a useful discussion about academic writing, editing and the appropriate use of jargon. The students also felt that despite their initial intimidation of the subject area, that the review gave them a thorough introduction and explanation of the subject and its associated literature – one of the key aims of a literature review.

At the end of the discussion I asked the students to grade the literature review. As a group the students agreed that the work was a very high quality and merited a 1st class mark (˃70%*). In reality the work had been awarded a 2:1 mark (c. 64%*); however as the work was submitted for a 3rd year module the mark can be translated to a 1st class mark at the 2nd year level. The students were able to see therefore what sort of level they should be aiming at with their own work.

When the students submitted their own literature reviews, I was pleased to see that most of the elements that we discussed had been included into their work. Subjects were clearly introduced and explained, relevant images were used to highlight arguments, ideas were critically discussed and logical conclusions were reached.

Feedback from the students noted that the experience of seeing my own work was incredibly useful as it allowed them to see clear examples of similar work. The students now understand what expectations I have for them in the 2nd year of their undergraduate degree based on my own experiences (do as I say, and as I do!). The tutorial also allowed the students to better understand the process of researching and academic writing.

Getting to see and read through a staff member’s work was very informative. It helped me to understand the level at which to pitch my own work and how the use of appropriate figures, even within essays, could improve the overall quality of the piece. I also found that it broke a perceived wall between the complicated published articles and undergraduate work as it showed how the skills I’m learning now can help with more advance writing in the future.”  (Ben, 3rd year student)

Getting an example of a literature review from my tutor was not only useful as a tool, but felt more personal. Allowing me to ask questions I wouldn’t have, if we didn’t have her work as an example.’  (Tom, 2nd year student)

It was a great help to see a good example of a literature review because I had no idea how to even start! I liked the fact that I could refer back to the example for guidance during the process of writing my own literature review, and I believe that I would have had much worse marks without the possibility of seeing an example beforehand.” (Ffion, 2nd year student)

I ran this tutorial last year for the first time and was pleased with the results. This academic year, the original students who are now in their 3rd year have asked to continue the practice as they write their independent research dissertations. During individual and group tutorials I have shown the students my undergraduate research project on the geochemistry of the Siberian Traps lavas and my PhD thesis on tephrochronology in Iceland. Again, feedback from the students has been positive as they appreciate seeing and comparing with their supervisor’s undergraduate work.

The only negative element of this experience was needing to ensure that students did not re-use the same topics for their own projects as this would be considered as plagiarism. However as previously noted, the academic background of the students somewhat precluded this.

Finally, a piece of advice: if you want to share your work with your students, make sure you develop a thick skin! Once the students get going they are surprisingly harsh during the marking and critiquing element of the tutorial!

By Rhian Meara, Physical Geography and Geology Lecturer at Swansea University

* In UK marking schemes, anything given 70% is considered to be of excellent quality.

GeoEd, is a series dedicated to education in the geosciences. If you’d like to share your teaching and educational experiences, anything from formal classroom teaching, through to outreach project ideas, please do get in touch. We always welcome guest contributions to the blog. To pitch an idea for a post, please contact Laura Roberts Artal (the EGU Communication Officer and GeoLog editor) at networking@egu.eu or take a look at our submission page.

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