Colorado State University to Host 7th Annual Front Range Student Ecology Symposium

The 2001 Front Range Student Ecology Symposium, being held March 14-15 at Colorado State University’s Fort Collins campus, will showcase outstanding ecological research.

The symposium’s popularity has been increasing since 1998 when it grew from a Colorado State student meeting into a regional event that now includes over 100 participants with student presenters from throughout the state and all Front Range colleges.

Students studying environmental science, conservation biology, ecology and related fields are encouraged to present their work, share ideas and meet others in the field of ecology and environmental science. Headlining the symposium will be a keynote panel discussion given by experts about advocacy in the environmental sciences.

"These student presenters, in particular, have a lot to gain from the experience in that it provides a low-key setting in which to practice their oral and poster presentations that they may be giving later at a scientific meeting," said Debra Finn, a doctoral student in biology at Colorado State.

The students will present on topics such as carbon exchange in Arctic ecosystems and waterbird habitat selection in the western United States. The presentations will be given to the students’ peers, professors and judges who will provide helpful critiques based on style, content, organization and originality.

The panel discussion will be led by four nationally recognized scientists: Stephen Schneider of Stanford University; William Laurenroth of Colorado State University; Ann Bartuska of the United States Forest Service; and Jane Bock of the University of Colorado, Boulder. The issue of advocacy is particularly sensitive considering that scientists often hold dramatically different opinions on the level of advocacy that is acceptable.

The goal of the panel discussion is to introduce young scientists to this issue and discuss guidelines to which they may formulate their own role in science advocacy as they advance their careers. Some of the arguments that will be raised include whether advocating a policy position compromises scientific credibility or if scientists should simply disseminate the results of their findings.

"I feel the students will respond very positively to having this (advocacy) issue presented in a way that they are able to view all sides and make decisions on how to deal with this issue in their own careers," said Nichole Barger, a doctoral student in ecology.

The panel discussion will be on March 14 from 2-4 p.m. in the Lory Student Center, Cherokee Park room. The discussion is free and open to the public and will be followed by a post panel discussion social event from 5-6 p.m. in the Lory Student Center, University Club room.

The symposium will be held March 15 from 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Student oral and poster presentations will be from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on the second-floor of the Lory Student Center. Following the presentations will be a brief closing address and then a social event and awards presentation featuring live music from the Ecotones and the symposium’s first annual ecological performance art and poetry slam.

Participating institutions in the Front Range Student Ecology Symposium are Colorado State, University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Denver, Colorado College, University of Southern Colorado, Fort Lewis College, University of Wyoming, University of Northern Colorado, Adams State College, Mesa State College, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Front Range Community College and Western State College.

For more information contact Todd Wellnitz at (970) 491-2329.