Chelsie Strowbridge and Terri Hurlbut, undergraduate students at UW-Tacoma, attended the Spokane conference and report their impressions. Chelsie and Terri study with Jim Gawel, PhD, associate professor of environmental chemistry at UW-Tacoma.
From Terri Hurlbut – Undergraduate Student at UW-Tacoma
The NALMS conference in Spokane this past October was a fabulous opportunity to meet and exchange knowledge with water professionals all over the United States on a range of topics related to the management of our nation’s lakes. I have attended conferences on other topics in the past, and always enjoy getting the “inside scoop” on an industry. Coming home with new ideas and new solutions is energizing and stimulates personal growth. It was no different at the NALMS conference, where I learned several techniques currently being evaluated and practiced in a variety of freshwater systems.
It was especially helpful to see how professionals present their research. I saw firsthand the importance of the scientific method in conducting research, and also how the resulting knowledge was conveyed. For example, complications or mistakes during the study were handled very differently; some were obvious yet ignored, while some errors were not obvious, but disclosed anyway, with a focus on regrets and procedural changes in future studies. A number of presentations were far too technical for my level of experience, while others seemed to be presented by someone not directly involved in the study. Still, an appreciable number were presented with both enthusiasm and consideration of their audience, accompanied by just enough technical information to warrant questions at the end.
I thoroughly enjoyed presenting our work on Spirit Lake, Mount St. Helens. The preparation required even more research, as well as a critical eye to produce a poster that revealed our discoveries in a style that was straightforward yet interesting. I especially enjoyed the participants who stopped by during the poster session to ask questions and contribute information they thought might be useful in future work. This experience contributed greatly to my own breadth of knowledge.
The program abstracts were helpful in prioritizing presentations, and I appreciated being able to step in and out of different topics during the same session. The special student session on submitting articles to a journal was helpful and interesting. I know publishing is important in getting a doctorate, and the session gave me a greater appreciation for the process as well as tips on getting published. Overall, I thought the conference was well organized and facilitated, and I would be happy to participate again in the future.
From Chelsie Strowbridge – Undergraduate Student at UW-Tacoma
The 2011 National Lake Management Society (NALMS) Symposium in Spokane was a collaborative melding of the minds discussing reactive science to address the perils of cyanobacteria and climate change’s impact on our lakes as well as proactive science, like low impact development, and everything in between. I, a measly undergraduate from University of Washington-Tacoma, was fortunate enough to attend and witness this mind-melding event. I say “measly” not because of any ill-will I felt toward me, but because of the gasps and wide-eyed wonderment expressed when other attendees found out that my comrades and I were only undergraduates.
To my surprise the range of expertise at the conference was as wide as the list of attendees was long. I saw graduate students and accompanying faculty presenting their research, businesspeople promoting their company’s products, and government agencies discussing data compiled from around the country. During the poster session, I spoke with many of these professionals about my own project, and was pleasantly surprised by their interest and eagerness to discuss my project with me. I came away from the poster session proud of my accomplishments and encouraged to continue.
Overall I found the conference exciting and truly inspiring, and I feel that only now do I fully appreciate the network of lake management experts as well as the level of dedication and professionalism required to be a part of such a group. I am honored to have attended, and hope to be present at many more such conferences in the future.