GeoLog

General Assembly

Accessibility at the General Assembly 2019

Accessibility at the General Assembly 2019

In just a couple of weeks, thousands of geoscience professionals from around the world will convene in Vienna, Austria to take part in the EGU General Assembly, the largest geoscience conference in Europe! It’s important to the EGU that scientists are able to attend and enjoy this annual meeting to the fullest. Here are a few of the ways EGU’s annual meeting strives to accommodate our diverse community of geoscientists:

Navigating the convention centre

The EGU General Assembly is held in the Austria Center Vienna, which is fully accessible by wheelchair. If you would like to learn more about attending the General Assembly in a wheelchair, Robin Wilson from the University of Southampton shared his experience at EGU 2016 in this blog post. While a few things have changed since then, the majority of Robin’s report still holds.

Poster halls have chairs available for people to sit down if needed and steps to help presenters hang up their posters. Additionally, each PICO Spot has a lower screen available for increased accessibility. Presentation rooms won’t be equipped with red laser pointers, as some people struggle to distinguish the laser dot from bright screens. Instead we encourage participants to highlight features from their slides using the screen’s cursor, which is more accommodating to everyone’s needs. On rooms with multiple screens, the screen’s cursor is also the only way to point to a feature on all screens simultaneously. In the 12 smaller rooms that have no lecterns, green laser pointers will be available for use instead.

Making room

The EGU child care facility at the General Assembly 2017. Childcare services at EGU 2019 will be for ages 3–11. (Photo credit: EGU / Kai Boggild)

This year a number of rooms will be available during the General Assembly to ensure that participants can enjoy the conference activities, while still being able to take care of their personal needs.

Assembly attendees with young children can take advantage of our free child care facilities, which expanded this year to accommodate more people, at the basement level of the centre (book in advance). EGU’s childcare service is now fully booked, but for children younger than 3 years or older than 11 years, you can get in touch with the Kinderbüro Universität Wien GmbH to make arrangements in Vienna. Please note that this may incur separate costs that are not borne by the conference.

This year a breastfeeding room located on the ground floor will also be available to participants.

EGU 2019 participants can find space for rest, relaxation or meditation in the four quiet rooms available at the basement level, as well as use the two multi-faith prayer rooms, separated by gender, on the ground floor.

Accessible Vienna

Vienna has been praised by many for being one of the most accessible cities in Europe. Over the last 20 years, the city has been working towards becoming “barrier-free,” implementing many initiatives with accessibility in mind. For example, the city has replaced much of their cobblestones with flat, smooth surfaces and ramped kerbs. Most trains, trams and buses also feature low floors and step-free boarding options. Additionally, almost all stations are accessible by ramp or elevator and have “guiding strips” for visually-impaired visitors. You can go to the Vienna Tourist Board website to find accommodating hotels, specialised tour guides, recommended sights and services, and other information on the city’s accessibility.

Most trains, trams and buses in Vienna feature low floors and step-free boarding options. Additionally, almost all stations are accessible by ramp or elevator and have guiding strips for visually-impaired visitors (Photo credit: AndyLeungHK via Pixabay

Participants are encouraged to give the EGU suggestions for how we can continue to improve the EGU meeting’s accessibility. You can give us general feedback when answering the 2019 General Assembly feedback survey and send more specific recommendations to the EGU Programme Committee chair.

The EGU General Assembly will take place from 07 to 12 April 2019 in Vienna, Austria. For the full session programme and more information on the General Assembly, see the EGU 2019 website and follow us on Twitter (#EGU19 is the official conference hashtag) and Facebook.

Short courses at EGU 2019

Short courses at EGU 2019

At this year’s General Assembly there are loads of short courses to choose from for broadening your expertise. You can supercharge your scientific skills, broaden your base in science communication and pick up tips on how to boost your career – be it in academia or outside. There is also a course aimed at making your time at the conference easier – be sure to take part, especially if it is your first time! And, if you do attend the short courses, don’t forget to share your experience with other conference participants on social media using the dedicated hashtag: #EGU19SC. Here’s a small selection of what’s in store at EGU 2019:

Supercharge your science – new techniques and dealing with data

Tips and tricks to boost your career

Being able to secure your own funding for research is key to a successful academic career and will give you important skills applicable to industry jobs too, so why not check out these three grant writing courses?

Additionally, you can also improve the chances of landing your dream job by attending these career development sessions.

Check out the career development short courses on offer to learn how you can boost your CV and develop your career! (N.H. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Kayla Rorick)

You can also gain very useful insight from those who have done it before, so why not take part in your Division’s ‘Meet the masters’ session? Here you’ll be able to meet experts in the field who can give you tips on how to get the most out of your career.

Science communication skills

With a growing emphasis on engaging the public with science and research, we have many workshops designed to develop your communication skills.

Make the most of the conference

Attending the conference for the first time can be daunting, as can be taking the step from presenting to convening a session. Here is a selection of short courses which can help you make the most of the conference, no matter what capacity you attend the conference in!

The EGU General Assembly will take place from 07 to 12 April 2019 in Vienna, Austria. For the full session programme and more information on the General Assembly, see the EGU 2019 website and follow us on Twitter (#EGU19 is the official conference hashtag) and Facebook.

GeoTalk: Making their mark: how humans and rivers impact each other

GeoTalk: Making their mark: how humans and rivers impact each other

Geotalk is a regular feature highlighting early career researchers and their work. In this interview we speak to Serena Ceola, a hydrologist and assistant professor at the University of Bologna, Italy, who studies interactions between humans and river systems. At the upcoming General Assembly she will be recognised for her research contributions as the recipient of the 2019 Hydrological Sciences Division Outstanding Early Career Scientists Award.

Thanks for talking to us today! Could you introduce yourself and tell us a little more about your career path so far?

I was born in Padova, Italy, and studied environmental engineering at the University of Padova, from which I obtained a master’s degree in 2009. Since my bachelor’s studies, I was fascinated by hydrology: both my bachelor’s and master’s thesis dealt with the availability of river discharge, which is the amount of water flowing through a river channel.

Then, in 2009 I moved to Lausanne in Switzerland and I continued my studies with a PhD at the Laboratory of Ecohydrology of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). My PhD thesis focused on the implications of river discharge availability on river ecosystems (namely algae and macroinvertebrates). Since 2013, I have been based at the University of Bologna, Italy, currently as a junior assistant professor. Now my main research project focuses on the relationship between river discharge availability and human activities, both at local and global scales.

Serena Ceola collecting benthic macroinvertebrates used for a small-scale flume experiment in Lunz-Am-See, Austria. (Photo Credits: Serena Ceola)

What got you interested in environmental engineering and hydrology? What brought you to study this particular field?

Studying environmental engineering was the perfect trade-off between being an engineer and focusing on environment sustainability and protection. During my studies I have developed a forma mentis that allows me to quantitatively solve (or try, at least) any issue. Since I was always fascinated by water, hydrology was my ideal choice. I must also say that my professors played a key role: their enthusiasm and passion overwhelmed me, involving me in such a fascinating subject.

At this year’s General Assembly, you will receive the Outstanding Early Career Scientists Award in the Hydrological Sciences Division for your contributions to understanding of the relationship between river environments and human activities. Could you tell us more about your research in this field and its importance?

River discharge has always been my main research focus. During the last 10 years, I had the unique opportunity to focus on the possible implications of river discharge .

Human activities, such as dam development, deforestation, agriculture, urbanization, etc. are known to affect how much flowing water is available to river ecosystems. In particular, I realised that no one before had conducted a quantitative analysis of how human-derived modifications to the natural flow of a river could possibly affect its environment.

Flume experimental facilities. (Photo Credits: Serena Ceola)

During my PhD, I performed an experiment by building small artificial rivers aimed at quantitatively estimating how

stream algae and macroinvertebrates respond to two flow regimes, one influenced by human activity and one unaffected. The unaffected river regime was naturally variable while the other was constant, like downstream a dam.

The experimental results were promising, thus allowing me to develop an analytical model capable of reproducing observed biological data in a real river network, also proving its applicability in presence of anthropogenic influence.

Hydrologic controls on basin-scale distribution of benthic invertebrates: study area and average habitat suitability values for a mayfly species. Image redrawn from Ceola et al., 2014, WRR, https://doi.org/10.1002/2013WR015112

When focusing on human activities, it is extremely important to estimate the interrelations between humans and waters. Here, I was lucky enough to start working with satellite data measuring the distribution of human population in space and time across the globe. By using satellite nightlight images, I analysed the spatial and temporal evolution of human presence close to streams and river. When considering extreme events like floods, I also had the opportunity to identify the regions most at risk for flood deaths and damage to infrastructure.

At the General Assembly, you plan to give a talk about working with global high-resolution datasets, such as nightlight data, to better understand how human and water systems affect each other. What are some of the possibilities made available through this kind of analysis? What doors does this research open, so to speak?

Working with global high-resolution datasets, and in particular with datasets covering several years, allows one to analyse and inspect how human processes and hydrological processes have evolved and interacted in time. This kind of analysis offers the opportunity to study how human pressure on river flows has changed over time and examine urbanization processes influenced for instance by proximity to rivers. This method also allows researchers to analyze how people move as a consequence of climatic conditions, such as extreme floods or droughts.

Spatial evolution of human presence close to stream and rivers by using satellite nightlight images. Image taken from Ceola et al., 2015, WRR, https://doi.org/10.1002/2015WR017482

Before I let you go, what are some of the biggest lessons you have learned so far as a researcher? What advice would you impart to aspiring scientists?

Based on my experience so far my first recommendation is “Be passionate!” Since you will spend a lot of time (days and nights) on a research project, it is fundamental that you love what you are doing. Although sometimes it is difficult and you cannot see any positive outcome, be bold and keep working on your ideas. Then, search for data to support your ideas and scientific achievements (although sometimes it is quite challenging and time-consuming!), but this proves that your research ideas are correct. Interact with colleagues, ask them if your ideas are reasonable and create your research network. Finally, work and collaborate with inspiring colleagues, who guide and support your research activities (I had and still have the pleasure to work with fantastic mentoring people)!

Interview by Olivia Trani, EGU Communications Officer