No word communication

No word communication

A picture is worth a thousand words, the saying goes. Yet, pictures can also deceive.

Exploring different communication styles forces us to go beyond pure content and consider how we want our audience to receive our message. It pushes us to think more broadly or abstractly and can even change the way we engage with our own subject matter. We have to consider the precise purpose of choosing one communication tool over another.

This is an experiment that took us away from the typical title slide to instead start our scientific talks with an image. The result is a diverse array of visual and narrative choices to engage our audience with the specific and technical aspects of our scientific queries. Hover over each image to find out about the content of the image.

Understanding high latitude methane in a warming climate

These are methane bubbles trapped in a frozen lake. These trapped bubbles convey the stochastic and large methane emissions that can occur at unexpected times and locations. This stochasticity makes it very challenging to predict how and when methane emissions will respond to warming. (by Meghan Taylor)

Phenology, ecosystem processes, and climate change: What we are learning from the PhenoCam network

The Blue Marble photo taken by Apollo 17 astronauts on December 7, 1972. It is one of the few human-recorded images that show a fully illuminated Earth. This image captures the power of photographs, their ability to shape the human perspective, and their value as a permanent record of a particular scene, at a particular point in time. (by Andrew Richardson)

Using ecology to quantify the spread of antibiotic resistance among bacterial reservoirs

This is Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase-producing bacteria. KPC causes pneumonia and is one of the most dangerous superbugs; it is resistant to virtually all known antibiotics. It first appeared in the US in the early 2000’s, around NYC. The medical staff tried everything to stop the spread of the bacteria: patients were isolated, staff & visitors wore gloves, masks, and gowns. All these infections were essentially untreatable; they did not respond to any combination of antibiotics. By the time the outbreak subsided in 2012, 19 patients had been colonized with KPC. 12 of them died. (by Ben Koch)

Quantitative stable isotope probing: what is it, how does it work, and why is it important?

Recap: Organisms are the engines of ecosystems. Their biomass stores and transforms chemical compounds. Their population dynamics drive carbon and nutrient cycles through the biosphere. And their interspecific interactions fuel the fluxes of matter and energy throughout food webs. By studying the activities of individual species, ecologists have gained great insight to understanding how ecosystems work. However, determining the activity of micro-organisms in their natural environments is extremely challenging because they are hard to see and identify. (by Ben Koch)

This painting works as a, perhaps blasphemous, metaphor for the broader topic of how scientists apply global-scale processes to increase our predictive and explanative power. How can global-scale data “breathe life” into our understanding of local scale processes? (by AJ Garnello)

Geoengineering and the Global Climate System

The idea of controlling the weather is deeply rooted in culture. Superheroes like Aquaman and Storm who control the weather for peace and justice, wizards as shown here like Saruman and Gandalf who battle through competing storm spells, and hundreds of deities that receive real-life prayers, supplications, and dances to benefit from divine control of the weather. We dream about controlling the weather. So what if we could? (by Bruce Hungate)

Contrasting reductionist and integrative approaches to ecosystem ecology

Consider this visual ecosystem, a single entity with meaning – face, eyes, nose, mouth, probably a bull; amid rhythmic chaos – the limbs of a disturbed society. I see echoes of Picasso’s Guernica, ideas of social protest. But, like ecosystems in the real world, it’s a little hard to tell what are the organizing features and principles, the meaning. If we view it analytically, we see the image is composed of parts - individual monochromatic shapes, building blocks. Can we discern meaning by examining those more carefully? (Art: Keith Haring, Untitled, Text: Bruce Hungate)

What makes someone an expert in a specific area of research?

This is my CV in a word cloud. The most common words are permafrost, carbon and my own name. Does this mean that I am an expert in permafrost carbon research? I certainly like to think so, although six years ago I barely knew what permafrost was. For my presentation today, I have left my comfort zone and started learning something new, which I really enjoy even though it may mean not being the expert anymore. It is good to be challenged. (by Christina Schaedel)

Metabolic Water Production by Soil Microorganisms

As soils dry and water potential decreases, microbes osmoregulate to maintain turgor. Some produce extracellular polysaccharides that provide a capacitance function. Eventually metabolism slows, cells dehydrate, and increasing hydraulic isolation limits carbon substrate supply. (by George Koch and Egbert Schwartz)

Seasonal trends in non-structural carbohydrates driven by starch depletion in Larrea tridentata

This is a portrait of Apolinaire Bouchardat a 19th century French doctor who is considered the father of the study of diabetes. He developed a technique to measure urine sugar content, which represents a time-integrated measurement that can be taken more often than blood sugar content. This parallels some of the difficulties of measuring non-structural carbohydrates in plants, as we are using static measurements to understand source/sink dynamics. Are we measuring the correct tissues, at the correct frequencies, without unduly perturbing the system? (by Jessica Guo)

Seasonal variation in branch hydraulic conductivity in coast redwood

Redwoods are charismatic trees and hold the fascination of humans because of their great height, and the unique ecosystem they form. This height is also a challenge when it comes to water transport because the water has to be pulled up extremely far. As water moves up in the xylem, the water column stretches and gets long and thin and if that water column breaks the trees lose hydraulic conductivity and can suffer from water stress. (by Lissy Enright)

Science communication audiences. What do they know?

Ears. What do these have to do with science communication? A lot. We use them to listen and receive information. When we think of communication we typically think of speaking, of disseminating. Listening is the other half of communication. When we seek to communicate it is important that we listen to our audiences, think about who they are, and use that to shape the way we communicate our messages. Perhaps even ask our audience to give us input. Listening is critical to successful communication. (by Marguerite Mauritz)

Impacts of climate and insect herbivory on productivity and physiology of trembling aspen in Alaskan

I am working on a manuscript of the findings I am presenting today, so I have recently been thinking about how to start a paper to capture the attention of your reader. Being a master’s student I am fairly inexperienced when it comes to writing scientific papers, so I have been looking at introductions from numerous articles to get ideas. One introduction that always comes to mind is from a 2004 paper by McCarroll and Loader called ‘Stable isotopes in tree rings’, and the first sentence is ‘trees are wonderful things. And trees are pretty wonderful, which is something that the results of the research I am presenting today illustrates. (by Melissa Boyd)

Canopy Structure and Biodiversity: Measurements and Predictions Across Taxa and Biomes

This is a cluster of cedar trees in a predominantly Douglas Fir forest, in northern California. In this Cedar grove the patterns of light reaching the forest floor and the herbaceous community below the tree canopy is completely different from the surrounding Douglas Fir forest. This demonstrates the importance of canopy structure for shaping the occurrence of other taxa. (by Nancy Peterson)

A gut feeling: teasing apart the active gut microbiome of a freshwater shredder

• My diet is absolute garbage. I recently started counting box red wine as a fruit. It’s a miracle my gut is intact. …well, actually I should be thanking my gut bacteria. These microbes help me digest everyday- and let me tell you, some days certain bacteria are waaaay more active than others. But enough about that, I’m a stream ecologist who studies stream insects. And actually, freshwater insects also have a garbage diet: dead leaves which fall from surrounding trees into the stream. Certain leaves are better than others, and we have used quantitative stable isotope probing to examine the activity of gut bacteria in insect guts and whether those active bacteria change with different leaf type diets and whether the microbes on the leaves incorporate into insect guts. (by Rebecca Fritz)

Acclimation of methane production weakens ecosystem response to climate warming

Imagine you’re standing on the bottom of a bog, right in front of this nicely cut peat profile, plant biologists would be extremely excited to see such nice display of the underground root system. You probably couldn’t breathe, because the water table in a bog never falls down below 30cm deep. Due to this anaerobic environment peatlands store 1/3 of the earth terrestrial carbon. Future dynamics of this large amount of C in response to global warming has been a key question in climate change research. More specifically, we want to know, will deep belowground warming in the future release accumulated carbon from peatland? At what rate? Will release of C be in form of CO2 or CH4? (by Shuang Ma)

The View from Space: fire and the fate of Arctic tundra vegetation

At the top is the view from space. This is what the Landsat remote sensing satellites see as they pass over the North Slope of Alaska. These orbiting imagers faithfully report the energy reflected off the surface of the Earth and we can visualize this in colors familiar to our eyes. At the bottom is the view from the ground. All of the heterogeneity you see here -mountains and shrubs and graminoids, shapes, colors and textures – is captured in the satellite products. The trick is turning what we get from the satellite -- numbers representing reflectance at different points along the electromagnetic spectrum -- into data and imagery that make sense from a human and an ecological perspective. That is, turning reflectance values into sedges and shrubs and soil. (by Katie Orndahl)

A metaphor for nitrogen fixation

If you were on a boat in the middle of the ocean with no fresh water, it would be great to have a reverse osmosis straw--something that could take a plentiful resource and convert it to a form that is useful to you. Microbes that form associations with some plants do just that, they convert the abundant nitrogen gas from the atmosphere into a form accessible to plants. In the Arctic, mosses can compete with other plants because they form symbioses with microbial N fixers. And the symbiotic N fixation in mosses may in turn provide the largest source of essential N for vascular plants (by Julia Stuart).