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At the Assembly 2019: Monday highlights

At the Assembly 2019: Monday highlights

Welcome to the 2019 General Assembly! This is the first full day of sessions and there’s a feast of them to choose from. Every day we’ll be sharing some super sessions and events at EGU 2019 here on GeoLog and you can complement this information with EGU Today, the daily newsletter of the General Assembly.

Union-wide sessions

Of particular importance today is the Union’s Plenary Meeting (PCN2) at 12:45 in Room E1 – it’s a forum for all Assembly attendees to discuss the development of the Union with the Union Council. Seeing as it’s over lunch, free snacks and soft drinks will be served at the event.

Monday is also kicks off the first Science in Society session at the General Assembly: Plastics in the Hydrosphere: An urgent problem requiring global action (SCS2: 14:00–17:45 in Room E1). This session will address the problems posed to our planet by plastic pollution, and examine options for dealing with the threat. It’s not one to miss! You can also follow the session on Twitter (#EGU19SCS).

In the evening, the EGU Booth will be holding a journal reception celebrating 25th anniversary of EGU’s open access journal Nonlinear Processes in Geophysics (NPG) from 18:00–19:00 (PCN9). 

Great debates

This year’s Great Debates will hit the ground running today with a session that addresses Science in policymaking: Who is responsible? This debate will feature a mixed panel of policymakers and geoscientists who have previously given scientific advice. Some key questions that the panel will debate include:

  • How can the accessibility of current EU science-advisory mechanisms be improved?
  • Are scientists doing enough to share their research?
  • And who is responsible for ensuring that quality scientific evidence is used in policymaking?

Join in the debate from 10:45–12:30 in Room E1. Seating is limited so make sure to arrive early to guarantee a spot! You can follow the session on Twitter with #EGU19GDB, and, if you’re not attending, tune in with the conference live stream.

Welcome to the General Assembly. Enjoy it to the fullest! (Credit: EGU/Kai Boggild)

Short courses

The conference can be daunting, especially for first time attendees. For tips and tricks on how to navigate the General Assembly and to learn more about the EGU, why not attend SC2.1: 08:30–10:15 / Room -2.16. The conveners of the short course will then be available in the Networking & Early Career Scientists Zone (Red Level) from 10:30 to 11:00 to answer your questions! Remember you can also consult the first timer’s guide for more information.

There are several short courses kicking off a week of exciting workshops. You can supercharge your data analysis skills in Mapping and modelling the environment at different scales (SC1.43: 08:30–10:15 / Room -2.85). You can also pick up some advice on peer-reviewing from the experts at How to peer-review? (SC1.31: 16:15–18:00 / Room -2.85).

The ADVANCEGeo Workshop (SC3.3: 14:00–15:45 / Room -2.31) offers participants the opportunity to discuss strategies for improving the workplace environment in the geosciences.

Presenting at a scientific conference can be daunting for both early career and established scientists. Fortunately, Help! I’m presenting at a scientific conference! (SC1.12: 14:00–15:45 / Room -2.62) will have hands-on tips and tricks in order to make your talk memorable and enjoyable for both speaker and audience.

Finally, you can learn more about science for policy-makers, the roads ahead & and how to get involved, with Monday’s second pop-up event in the Networking and ECS Zone, starting at 18:20.

Scientific sessions

Today’s General Assembly programme features a number of inter- and transdisciplinary sessions, which tackle a common theme through an interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary combination of approaches. The aim of the sessions is to foster cross-division links and collaborations. The following six sessions are scheduled throughout the day:

There are of course many other scientific sessions throughout the day. Here’s just a sample of what’s on offer:

Medal lectures

Today also features six Medal Lectures, which are sure to be a great source of inspiration:

Meet your division’s representatives, members of Council, and journal editors throughout the Meet EGU sessions, which all take place at the EGU Booth in Hall X2. (Credit: EGU/Keri McNamara)

Meet EGU

Also remember to take the opportunity to meet your division’s representatives, members of the Union Council, and journal editors throughout the Meet EGU sessions, which all take place at the EGU Booth in Hall X2 on the Brown Level. Today you can visit:

  • Ocean Sciences division president (Karen Heywood), 10:15–10:45
  • Biogeosciences division president (Giuliana Panieri), 10:45–11:30
  • Climate: Past, Present & Future division president & PC Officer for Travel Support (Didier Roche) and division ECS representative (Carole Nehme), 11:45–12:30
  • Chief executive editor of Solid Earth (Lotte Krawczyk), 14:00–14:45
  • Soil System Sciences programme group chair (Claudio Zaccone), 15:00–15:45
  • EGU Treasurer (Patric Jacobs), 15:45–16:15
  • EGU President (Alberto Montanari), 16:15–17:00
  • outgoing Atmospheric Sciences division president (Annica Ekman), 17:00–17:45

Have an excellent day!

The EGU General Assembly is taking place in Vienna, Austria from 7 to 12 April. Check out the full session programme on the General Assembly website and follow the Assembly’s online conversation on Twitter at #EGU19.

Union-wide events at EGU 2019

Union-wide events at EGU 2019

Wondering what to expect at the General Assembly this year? Here are some of the highlights:

Union Symposia (US)

For events which will have general appeal, regardless of your field of research, look no further than the Union Symposia. The very first session celebrates 30 years of the WMO Global Atmosphere Watch Programme (US5). This session will highlight the need for, and illustrate exciting advances in the translation of atmospheric composition research to support services. The event will also articulate the needs for advances in observing systems, models and a better understanding of fundamental processes.

Following this session will be US4: Promoting and supporting equality of opportunities in geosciences. Under-representation of different groups (cultural, national and gender) remains a reality across the world in the geosciences. This Union Symposium will touch on the remaining obstacles that contribute to these imbalances, with the goal of identifying best practices and innovative ideas to overcome obstacles.

Friday’s first session (US2) pays tribute to the 250th anniversary of the birth of Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859), the intrepid explorer of the Andes and other regions in the world, and the most famous scientist of his time. This symposium will recognise Alexander von Humboldt’s legacy by reviewing the state of the art in studies of the coupled lithosphere – atmosphere – hydrosphere – biosphere system with a focus on the Andean mountain belt

And finally, US3 on Friday afternoon will cover past and future tipping points and large climate transitions in Earth history. The aim of the session is to point out the most recent results concerning how a complex system as the climate of the Earth has undergone many tipping points and what is the specificity of the future climate changes.

Science and Society (SCS)

The EGU is dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in the geosciences for the benefit of humanity worldwide, and the Union’s dialogue with society is one of its priority missions. At the 2019 General Assembly, the EGU is launching an innovative symposium format, Science and Society (SCS), to host scientific forums specifically dedicated to connecting with high-level institutions and engaging the public and policymakers. Here is some information on the two Science and Society sessions taking place this year:

Communication between scientists, institutions, policymakers and the general public is widely recognised as an essential step towards a fair and sustainable society. The Science and Society session Science, Politics and European (dis)integration: A conversation of Geoscientists with Ilaria Capua and Mario Monti (SCS1) will focus on science and politics with a global perspective, and the impact of populism on European integrity and therefore scientific research.

Plastic pollution is recognised as one of the most serious and urgent problems facing our planet. There is a pressing need for global action, backed by sound scientific understanding, to tackle this problem. This additional Science and Society session, Plastics in the Hydrosphere: An urgent problem requiring global action (SCS2), will address the problems posed to our planet by plastic pollution, and examine options for dealing with the threat.

Great Debates (GDB)

This year we’re holding five Great Debates! The topics covered this year are varied, from the safe operating space for the planet and how to ensure it is not passed to Plan-S: Should scientific publishers be forced to go Open Access? The role of scientists in policy-making is another hot topic on the Great Debate agenda, with one debate dedicated to the subject on who is responsible for science in policymaking.

Another Great Debate will focus on Rewards and recognition in science: what value should we place on contributions that cannot be easily measured. At this session a panel of stakeholders will discuss how can we fairly value and credit scientists with harder-to-measure contributions, such as engaging directly with the public and policymakers and practicing open scholarship.

Continuing with the success of last year’s Early Career Scientist (ECS) Great Debate, the 2019 General Assembly invites participants to join a round-table discussion where everyone will be given the opportunity to discuss this year’s chosen topic: “How can Early Career Scientists prioritise their mental wellbeing?” Whether you are in Vienna or elsewhere, be sure to follow and join in the debates using #EGU19GDB on Twitter.

Educational & Outreach Symposia (EOS)

Educational and Outreach Symposia are sessions dedicated to all things education and outreach, and include the Geosciences Information for Teachers (GIFT) workshop, a long-running event for high school teachers that helps shorten the time between discovery and textbook.

Science-Art-Public Events (SCA)

The Science-Art-Public Events give you the opportunity to observe, discuss, and take part in activities focused on integrating art and science and society. This year the conference will feature three events relating to this topic.

The Geoscience Games Night session offers a space to gather, socialize, and play some games based on Geoscience! Bring along your own games or try one of the others in the session and meet the people who created them.

You can also join the OpenStreetMap Mapathon to help put some of the world’s most vulnerable places on the map and learn more about crowdsourcing, open data and humanitarian response. No experience is necessary – just bring your laptop and the session conveners will provide the training.

Finally, the conference will be hosting a screening of the award-winning documentary A Plastic Ocean. Join the event to understand the impacts of plastic pollution around the world, what action we can take to stop plastics entering our natural world and pose your questions to the film’s producer, Jo Ruxton, at the end of film.

Medal Lectures and Lectures organized by related scientific societies (MAL, LRS)

There will be 4 lectures organized by related scientific societies as well as a grand total of 45 Medal Lectures this year!

Stand Alone Lectures (SAL)

the 2019 meeting will also be hosting two stand-alone lectures.

In the first stand-alone lecture, geophysicist Xavier Le Pichon will discuss the possibility of relating plate tectonics and mantle dynamics without ambiguity: Pangea and lower mantle: Are we entering into a new paradigm? From Plate Tectonics to Global Tectonics.

The growing frequency of extreme hydrologic events is becoming increasingly apparent at the global scale. In addition, population increases in flood prone areas intensifies the impacts associated with these extreme flood events. in this second stand-alone lecture, Giulia Sofia from the University of Connecticut will provide an overview about this complex set of interactions, and will showcase some study cases where human drivers, rainfall patterns and floods have been analysed.

Meet EGU (EGU)

Meet EGU does exactly what it says on the tin – these sessions are a great opportunity to get to know your division president and early career representative, put faces to names and find out what’s going on in the Union.

Townhall and Splinter Meetings (TSM)

Townhall Meetings allow participants to take part in a lot of open discussion. This year’s meetings cover a huge variety of topics, from a talk on geoscientific drone (UAV/UAS) applications through to a discussion on how EGU can minimise the carbon footprint of the General Assembly. Like Townhall Meetings, Splinter Meetings are organised by participants, but they are typically smaller and can be either public or by invitation only.

The EGU General Assembly is taking place in Vienna, Austria from 7 to 12 April. Check out the full session programme on the General Assembly website and follow the Assembly’s online conversation on Twitter (#EGU19 is the official conference hashtag) and Facebook.

Give us the foundation to build our transferrable skills!

Give us the foundation to build our transferrable skills!

The EGU Early Career Scientists’ (ECS) Great Debates offer early career scientists at the EGU General Assembly the chance to network and voice their opinions on important topics in the format of round-table discussions. At the end of the debate, each table delivers a statement that summarises the discussion and recommendations. By publishing the results, we hope to highlight some of the needs of the EGU ECS community and how these matters should be addressed.

At this year’s ECS Great Debate, the topic was transferrable skills in science. The main question was “should early career scientists use time developing transferrable skills?” You may say this is a simple question to answer. Indeed, all the resulting statements indicated that the EGU ECS answer is YES. However, the simple statements hide a much more complex situation; a situation that varies considerably for each individual researcher. Different countries have different standards, different universities set different curricula, and different supervisors have different priorities. Some early career scientists are lucky to have many opportunities to develop transferrable skills, whereas others strive to gain these skills.

Groups defined transferrable skills as ones that could be used in other scientific disciplines and not least, in industry. Indeed, many scientific skills are transferrable. For example, data analysis and statistics were noted as valuable tools across various scientific fields and industry careers. Some groups gave extensive lists of transferrable expertise, and most were not strictly science-based. These included writing, presenting, social media, teaching, team working, project management, networking and critical thinking, to name a few. However, developing these skills do not traditionally fall into the curricula of the geosciences.

Early career scientists having round-table discussions on the importance of developing transferrable skills. (Credit: Olivia Trani)

It was evident that ECS in the EGU consider transferrable skills as extremely important to their careers and their science. They furthermore suggest that researchers should be given time and appropriate credit to develop these skills.

At the same time, many of the ECS debate participants believe in striking a balance between establishing these skills and the scientific skills that their PhDs and publications depend on.

Below you will find a list of the summary statements from the ECS that were present at the Great Debate. These reports, based on the discussions from more than 100 early career scientists, show solid support for transferrable skill training. These results are a clear indication that EGU must continue to work towards offering short courses at the General Assembly on a variety of transferrable skills. Additionally, these statements can help ECS persuade their universities to invest in opportunities to develop these skills if they do not already do so. It is clear that the EGU early career scientist community believes these skills not only help ECS develop their careers, but that they also benefit science and society!

Here are the table’s conclusions:

“Instead of currently developing random skills ourselves, on an ad-hoc basis, we need an environment to support more organized, collaborative, efficient, and recognized skill sets”

“We need transferrable skills to communicate knowledge and help society, therefore learn them, when you need them or want them, others will thank you”

“We should focus on developing these [transferrable] skills but we need to manage our time in order to go deeper into [our] own science”

“Yes, because whether you decide to stay in academia or in industry, these skills will help you be better in your field, help you work on interdisciplinary topics and communicate your work, thus increasing your success. The pros outweigh the cons!”

“Yes, to be a good scientist, researcher, or general human being, it takes more than one skill or field. It takes being open and brave to pursue new experiences to change both yourself and those around you.”

“Scientific careers are not just about getting specific knowledge in your field specialty but being able to adapt yourself to different disciplines.”

“Yes, because you get more job opportunities, it gives you flexibility, it’s fun, it makes you happy, it helps define you and strengthens your personality.”

“Yes, it is important for improving our possibilities after a PhD. We should take these opportunities as early career scientists [and] have more chances to learn these skills.”

“All scientists should be required to take time to develop useful skills for professional and personal development. These developments should not be exclusive to certain groups, should be obligatory with freedom to choose topics, should be offered to supervisors and managers, should include more courses at conferences and there should be more money for travel funding.”

“We need to find a good balance during PhD between doing science and attending courses about transferrable skills.”

“Yes, but plan which relevant transferrable skills you need to develop in the short term in relation to your project, and then update your long-term plan.”

“Transferrable skills will always be useful in your current and future situation. They should be learnt at university. It should be acceptable to spend time learning these skills in courses in tandem with your research.”

By Mathew Stiller-Reeve, co-founder of ClimateSnack and researcher at Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Norway

Editor’s note: This is a guest blog post that expresses the opinion of its author and those who participated at the Great Debate during the General Assembly, whose views may differ from those of the European Geosciences Union. We hope the post can serve to generate discussion and a civilised debate amongst our readers.

Union-wide events at EGU 2018

Union-wide events at EGU 2018

Wondering what to expect at the General Assembly this year? Here are some of the highlights:

Union Symposia (US)

For events which will have general appeal, regardless of your field of research, look no further than the Union Symposia. The very first session, organized in collaboration with the European and American space agencies (ESA and NASA) will highlight observation missions focused on Earth and other planetary bodies, as well as discuss the challenges of organising future missions in an international framework.

Following this session will be Union Symposia 1: Past achievements and future challenges for the Geosciences, co-sponsored by the American Geophysical Union. The Union Symposia on Wednesday will reflect on the fifty years of international ocean drilling. Thursday’s session will then feature reports on the Cassini mission and future perspectives for the exploration of the outer solar system.

And finally, Union Symposia 5 on Friday will cover Scientific research in a changing European Union: where we stand and what we aim for. Panelists will explore some of the challenges and potential threats to academics in the EU and how these issues can be addressed and overcome. The session will also outline some of the advantages of the EU, funding programmes that are currently provided and how the European Union can continue to develop and nurture its researchers.

Great Debates (GDB)
This year we’re holding four Great Debates! The topics covered this year are varied, from Natural versus anthropogenic threats for life on Earth to Low-risk geo-engineering: are techniques available now? The role of scientists in policy-making is another hot topic on the Great Debate agenda, with one debate dedicated to the subject on whether to be hands on or hands off in the political sphere. Continuing with the success of last year’s Early Career Scientist (ECS) Great Debate, the 2018 General Assembly invites participants to join a round-table discussion where everyone will be given the opportunity to discuss this year’s chosen topic: “Should early career scientists use time developing transferrable skills?” Whether you are in Vienna or elsewhere, be sure to follow and join in the debates using #EGU18GDB on twitter.

Educational & Outreach Symposia (EOS)
Educational and Outreach Symposia are sessions dedicated to all things education and outreach, and include the Geosciences Information for Teachers (GIFT) workshop, a long-running event for high school teachers that helps shorten the time between discovery and textbook.

Medal Lectures and Lectures organized by related scientific societies (ML, LRS)
There will be 3 lectures organized by related scientific societies as well as a grand total of 46 Medal Lectures this year!

Meet EGU (EGU)
Meet EGU does exactly what it says on the tin – these sessions are a great opportunity to get to know your division president and early career representative, put faces to names and find out what’s going on in the Union.

Townhall and Splinter Meetings (TSM)
Townhall Meetings allow participants to take part in a lot of open discussion. This year’s meetings cover a huge variety of topics, from a general discussion of the use of preprints and preprint servers like EarthArXiv, through to a talk on how geoscientists should address urbanisation. Like Townhall Meetings, Splinter Meetings are organised by participants, but they are typically smaller and can be either public or by invitation only.

The EGU General Assembly is taking place in Vienna, Austria from 8 to 13 April. Check out the full session programme on the General Assembly website.