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Plenary Lectures

To promote cross-disciplinary dialogs on issues of global importance, this meeting introduces a new format where duo speakers present on some days with complementary expertise to address the issues, covering both the natural science aspects and socio-economic aspects. Additionally, the meeting will begin on Sunday afternoon with a opening plenary session. Local aspects will be covered during plenary sessions on Monday and Wednesday from 12:00 to 13:30.

Sunday, 17 February 2013 – Opening Session

Dr. John Downing

ASLO President,  Regent’s Excellence Professor of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology and Chair of the Environmental Science Graduate Program, Iowa State University

Presentation: ASLO President John Downing will provide opening remarks for the conference.  

Biographical Information: John Downing is president of the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography, a Board member of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents, and a member of the Consortium of Aquatic Science Societies. He is a Regent’s Excellence Professor of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology, and the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering at Iowa State University. He is Chair of the Environmental Science Graduate Program. He is also an adjunct professor at Itasca Community College where he is helping create a water quality technology program to provide employment opportunities to students in an economically depressed region. His research interests include limnology, aquatic ecology, terrestrial ecology, microbial ecology, biogeochemistry, population conservation, and whole ecosystem restoration and management. He has advised many policy-makers and citizens groups concerning water quality management, and is a frequent consultant to firms and boards regionally, nationally, and internationally. He was recently awarded ASLO’s Ruth Patrick award for his work in understanding and mitigating eutrophication in agricultural regions. He was formerly a professor at McGill University and the University of Montreal where he was Director of the Laurentian Biological Station.

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Richard Campanella

Geographer and Senior Professor of Practice, Tulane School of Architecture, Tulane University

Presentation: New Orleans: A Historical Geography, 1700s-2000s

This illustrated presentation will explain the formation of the Mississippi Delta and the settlement and early development of New Orleans with respect to its deltaic environment throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It will then describe, through time-sequence maps and graphs, the environmental manipulations of the “long twentieth century” and the ensuing geophysical deterioration of the delta, the population loss and urban decline of New Orleans, and the circumstances that led to the Katrina debacle. We will conclude with a synopsis of the progress made since 2005, and the path ahead.

Biographical Information:  Richard Campanella, a geographer with the Tulane School of Architecture, is the author of six critically acclaimed books on New Orleans, including Bienville’s Dilemma and Geographies of New Orleans. The only two-time winner of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities “Book of the Year” Award, Campanella has also received the Williams Prize for Louisiana History, the Mortar Board Award for Excellence in Teaching from Tulane University, and the Monroe Fellowship from the Tulane University New Orleans Center for the Gulf South. Some of his work may be viewed at http://richcampanella.com.

Monday, 18 February 2013 – Morning Plenary Session

Dr. Karen Kidd

Canada Research Chair and Professor of Biology, University of New Brunswick

Presentation: Is the Birth Control Pill an Effective Form of Contraception for Wild Fish?

It is well known that sewage effluents contain substances that affect the endocrine system and reproduction of wild fish.  However, it is not well understood whether the responses observed at the organism level, such as feminization of male fish living downstream, can be linked to impacts at the population level.  To investigate this, a whole lake experiment was done at the Experimental Lakes Area in northwestern Ontario, Canada from 1999-2010 and examined the effects of the synthetic estrogen ethynylestradiol (EE2) used in birth control pills on the fish populations and their supporting food web.  Continuous additions of EE2 (5-6 ng/L) were made to the lake in the summers of 2001-2003; biochemical- and tissue-level endpoints were examined in several species of fish and population data were collected for all trophic levels before, during and after EE2 additions and contrasted to reference lake data.  The experiment was successful at reproducing the impacts observed downstream of wastewater discharges.  Male fish from the treated lake produced high concentrations of vitellogenin (an egg yolk protein precursor) and had delayed spermatocyte development.  In addition, in the second and third summer of additions, reproductive failures occurred for the shortest-lived fish species, the fathead minnow, with a subsequent collapse in the population.  Ongoing monitoring of the lake after EE2 additions stopped showed that the fathead minnow population has recovered.  Continuous inputs of low levels of the estrogen used in birth control pills can impact the sustainability of fish populations. 

Biographical Information:  Karen Kidd has been a Canada Research Chair and Professor of Biology at the University of New Brunswick, Canada since 2004.  Before this, she worked for 6 years as a research scientist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada. She received her B.Sc. in Environmental Toxicology from the University of Guelph and a Ph.D. in Environmental Biology and Ecology from the University of Alberta.  Karen’s research focuses on understanding the effects of municipal and industrial effluents, aquaculture and agricultural runoff on fish and invertebrate populations and food web structure of lakes, wetlands and rivers, and the factors affecting the accumulation of persistent contaminants such as chlorinated pesticides and mercury through freshwater communities in tropical through arctic systems.  She led a whole lake experiment at the Experimental Lakes Area in northwestern Ontario, Canada to understand the effects of the estrogen used in birth control pills and released in municipal wastewaters on fish populations and their supporting food web.

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Monday, 18 February 2013 – Lunchtime Plenary Session

Dr. Carl Brasseaux

Professor Emeritus of History, University of Louisiana at Lafayette and Oral History Fieldworker, Louisiana Sea Grant College Program

Dr. Donald W. Davis

Director of Oral Histories, Louisiana Sea Grant College Program, Louisiana State University

Presentation: People and Solutions: Cultural Hind-Casts Must Precede Restoration Forecasts

South Louisiana’s coastal plain has witnessed two extinction events since 1699. The first—extending from 1699 to approximately 1915—was zoological, evidenced by the disappearance of numerous species indigenous to the area. The second—presently unfolding—is cultural, as the cultural landscape begins to implode in the wake of physical and economic changes wrought by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav, Ike, and Isaac, the BP oil spill disaster, and the flood of 2011. In their presentations, Davis and Brasseaux will focus on the second watershed event. They will examine the occupation and development of the coastal wetlands, the subsequent emergence of unique regional cultures, and the threats posed to that way of life. In the end, Louisiana’s near sea level wetlands can continue to function as a “working coast” only when the people living there become part of the solution.

Biographical Information: As Professor of History and Director of the Center for Cultural and Eco-Tourism, Carl is one of the world’s leading authorities on French North America, with extensive expertise in the areas of Acadian/Cajun and Creole history and culture. His doctorate is from the Université de Paris, from which he was graduated with the highest distinction. Brasseaux has published thirty-three volumes of material on Louisiana and French North America. His 1,850-page biographical dictionary includes sketches of all persons known to have served the French monarchy in the Mississippi Valley and Gulf Coast regions during the eighteenth century. In addition, Brasseaux has published 101 chapters in books or articles in scholarly journals throughout North America and Europe. In 1976, he helped organize the Louisiane Bien-Aimée exhibit that occupied an entire floor of the Radio France building in Paris. This exhibit was awarded a gold medal by the United States Department of Commerce as the best United States exhibit sent abroad during the bicentennial year.

Biographical Information: Donald (Don) Davis has been involved in coastal-related research for more than forty years. His professional career was influenced by a number of coastal scientists while working on his Ph.D. in LSU’s Department of Geography and Anthropology. Each of these individuals focused their individual research on some cultural or physical element in the landscape. From this exposure, Dr. Davis came to appreciate the importance of humankind on Louisiana’s coastal wetlands. His research interest has focused on the wide array of renewable and non-renewable resources that are a vital part in the use of the marsh/swamp landscape complex. He and a colleague are currently working with Louisiana’s Sea Grant College Program on an oral history project that focuses on learning to value heritage, tradition and culture in a place that, to some, does not matter but to the marsh dweller is home. In addressing this challenge he has recently published: Washed Away? The Invisible People of Louisiana’s Wetlands.

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Tuesday, 19 February 2013 – Morning Plenary Session  

Dr. Andrew Weaver

Lansdowne Professor and Canada Research Chair, School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Victoria

Nancy Baron

Outreach Director, COMPASS, and Lead Communications Trainer, Leopold Leadership Program.

Presentation: The Risks and Rewards of Communicating Your Science

Dr. Andrew Weaver:  “Neither I, nor most of my colleagues in climate science, started our careers expecting to be drawn into the public spotlight. As an undergraduate studying physics and mathematics, I always wanted my science to be directly relevant to society. That’s why as a graduate student, I chose to apply my mathematical expertise to problems in atmospheric science and physical oceanography. This path led to my ongoing research efforts to understand internal feedbacks within the climate system. But as many of us have experienced, science that is relevant to society also can also become highly politicized.

In this talk I will provide a personal account of some of the risks and rewards, successes and failures in science communication and interacting with the media. I will also address the importance of balancing the social obligation to communicate climate science and its inherent uncertainties-- with the need to continue scientific inquiry.”

Nancy Baron:  “Not a day goes by that the public and policy makers could not benefit from the knowledge of scientists to inform current events and decisions that that have the power to shape our future.  Yet too often, science is absent from the discussion. Public confusion and scientific frustration over hot button issues including climate change, ocean acidification and fisheries only underscore the need for society to be better informed by science.

How can scientists rise above the clamor to communicate more effectively? I will draw on a decade of experience in the trenches as a communications coach to share stories of scientists who have taken the leap – their struggles, successes and most importantly their lessons learned. This talk will provide useful techniques to help scientists better manage their messages, deliver them clearly and compellingly, and hopefully, renew their motivation to engage in society’s most important debates.”

Biographical information: Andrew Weaver is the Lansdowne Professor and Canada Research Chair in the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences at the University of Victoria. He was a Lead Author in the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2nd, 3rd and 4th and ongoing 5th scientific assessments. Weaver is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society and the American Meteorological Society. He is a past recipient of NSERC Steacie, Killam and Guggenheim Fellowships as well as a CIAR Young Explorers Award, CMOS President’s Prize, Royal Society of Canada Miroslaw Romanowski Medal and Huntsman Award for Excellence in Marine Science. He was appointed to the Order of British Columbia in 2008.

Biographical information: Nancy Baron is the outreach director for COMPASS and the lead communications trainer for the Leopold Leadership Program. Her book, Escape from the Ivory Tower, is a practical and entertaining guide for scientists who want to engage their audiences, ace their interviews, promote their papers and enter the political fray. She and her COMPASS team offer a wide range of workshops for academic scientists as well as scientists who work for government and non-governmental organizations in North America and abroad. Her experience as both a biologist for Canadian National Parks and as a science writer motivated her to try to help bridge the gaps among scientists, journalists and policy makers. She is based at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) in Santa Barbara.

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Wednesday, 20 February 2013 – Morning Plenary Session

Richard A. “Rick” Duschl

Waterbury Chaired Professor of Secondary Education, College of Education, Penn State University - Speaking in the place of Susan Singer

Biographical Information: Richard A. Duschl is the Waterbury Chair Professor of Secondary Education at Penn State University.  Prior to joining Penn State Richard held the Chair of Science Education at King’s College London and served on the faculties of Rutgers, Vanderbilt and the University of Pittsburgh. He recently served as Chair of the National Research Council research synthesis report Taking Science to School: Learning and Teaching Science in Grades K-8 (NRC, 2007) and is also a member of the Next Generation Science Standards national leadership team; co-chairing the Earth/Space Sciences writing team.  With Richard Grandy, he co-edited Teaching Scientific Inquiry: Implications for Research and Implementation (SensePublishers, 2008).   His research interests focuses on establishing epistemic learning environments and on the role of students’ inquiry and argumentation processes.  Richard has twice received the ‘JRST Award’ (1989; 2003) for the outstanding research article published in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching.  In November 2012 Richard joined the National Science Foundation in the Directorate of Education and Human Resources as Director, Division of Research on Learning. 

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Wednesday, 20 February 2013 – Lunchtime Plenary Session

Shirley Laska

Professor Emerita of Sociology, Founding Director Emerita, Center for Hazards Assessment, Response and Technology (UNO-CHART), University of New Orleans

Presentation: Catastrophe in the Making: The Engineering of Katrina

Defining Hurricane Katrina as a natural disaster has been rejected in multiple ways. One striking rejection of that definition is demonstrated by the role played by the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO) in the damaging storm surge that drowned the City of New Orleans. The engineered waterway was an act against Nature rather than an act of Nature. This presentation will consider: 1) how this waterway came to be—the “growth machine,” 2) the “Peter Principle” of construction momentum that led to the creation of a transportation technology ahead of a societal understanding of its negative implications and their mitigation, and 3) the refusal to take heed of the impending catastrophe when confronted with evidence from highly qualified scientists. Prospects for future ‘control’ of technology with coastal restoration will be considered in light of this history.

Biographical Information: Shirley Laska, Professor Emerita of Sociology and Founding Director Emerita of the UNO Center for Hazards Assessment, Response and Technology (UNO-CHART), is an environmental sociologist and specialist in long-term community recovery. UNO-CHART is an innovative applied research center that strives to support the resiliency of communities facing environmental challenges. Her post-Katrina research includes co-authoring Catastrophe in the Making: The Engineering of Katrina and the Disasters of Tomorrow about the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet and the flooding of New Orleans, as well as multiple peer-reviewed journal publications. She previously served for eight years as the Vice President of Research for the University of New Orleans and has received numerous awards including from the American Sociological Association, the Rural Sociological Society, and the Southern Sociological Society.

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Thursday, 21 February 2013 – Morning Plenary Session

Dr. James Syvitski

Executive Director, Community Surface Dynamics Modeling System, University of Colorado at Boulder

Presentation Topic: Geo-engineering of Lowland Floodplains and Deltas

While recent debate has focused on the utility of geo-engineering in relationship to amelioration of greenhouse gas impacts, we should recognize that humans have been engineering the earth’s surface for millennia.  Humans have worked to change natural aquatic systems, particularly floodplains and delta plains, into unnatural conduits of water, sediment, carbon, nutrients and pollutants. While the engineering of rivers began some 3000 years ago with ancient civilizations, serious waterway engineering began in earnest between the 14th and 17th centuries, when great canals were built, rivers were straitened and levee systems were developed.  Deforestation during these and later periods, introduced vast amounts of fresh sediment into these aquatic environments; fluvial sediment loads doubled on average. A major dam (>15 m in height) has been built every day for the last 110 years, on average, sequestering hundreds of GT of sediment and carbon in reservoirs and greatly limiting the transport of sediment to the coast. This interception of upstream sediment has left modern rivers with cleaner water, reduced flood magnitudes, and discharge through fewer distributary channels that are armored with artificial levees. Today deltas are subsiding at rates four times larger than the sea level is rising, on average; subsurface mining (oil, gas or groundwater) being the main culprit.  Tens of millions of hectares of our coastlines are flooded every year. Coastal retreat has accelerated from m/y to km/y as further impacted by the removal of protective coastal mangrove forests or wetlands, often to make room for shrimp farms. Human manipulation of our waterways have thus contributed to coastal land loss, reduced biodiversity, saltwater intrusion with soils turning saline, increased water temperatures, coastal erosion, loss of coastal infrastructure, and loss of wetlands. Only through understanding the global footprint of humans can we begin to develop effective policies and protocols for supporting global sustainability.  We may also recognize our successes and failures at geo-engineering.

Biographical information: Professor James P.M. Syvitski received a Ph.D. at the University of British Columbia in 1978, where he developed a quantitative understanding of particle dynamics across the land-sea boundary. He has held a variety of appointments within Canadian universities (1978-95) and was a Senior Research Scientist within the Geological Survey of Canada and the Bedford Institute of Oceanography (1981-95). He served as Director of INSTAAR – a U Colorado - Boulder Earth and Environmental Systems Institute from 1995-2007, and presently holds CU faculty appointments in Geological Sciences, Applied Mathematics, Atmosphere & Ocean Sciences, Hydrological Sciences, and Geophysics. Professor Syvitski is presently Executive Director of CSDMS— Community Surface Dynamics Modeling System, an international effort to develop, support, and disseminate integrated software modules to the broader Geoscience community. Syvitski also is Chair of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program that provides essential scientific leadership and knowledge of the Earth system to help guide society onto a sustainable pathway during rapid global change. Professor Syvitski received the 2009 Royal Society of Canada, Huntsman Medal for Outstanding Achievements in Marine Science, and is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union.

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Friday, 22 February 2013 – Morning Plenary Session

Dr. Klement Tochner

Professor, Aquatic Ecology, Freie Universität Berlin, and Director, Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries

Presentation Title: Domesticated Rivers: Rethinking Science and Management

Throughout the past centuries most large rivers have increasingly become human-dominated ecosystems as a result of land reclamation, floodplain drainage, hydropower production, and channelization for navigation. Their domestication, i.e. their optimization for few ecosystem services, has fundamentally altered habitat conditions and led to the formation of non-analogous biotic communities as well as to the truncation of vital ecosystem processes. The gains associated with domestication of freshwater ecosystems have been counter-balanced by deplorable trade-offs, the most severe of which are loss of biodiversity and decrease in related ecosystem services.

Domestication of ecosystems, combined with the rapid turnover of biotic communities, calls for a fundamental rethinking of the future management of freshwater ecosystems. Persistent emphasis on an idealistic vision of ecosystems may not be feasible for ecosystems that continuously change. Concurrently, river management competes with the more human-focused targets and directives in the energy, flood control and agricultural sectors. Therefore, there is an urgent need for innovative, adaptive strategies to sustainably manage rivers. Conservation efforts will need to be complemented by, or perhaps even replaced by, increasing levels of management intervention, in order to maintain, or create, the desired ecological values of freshwater ecosystems.

Biographical information:  Klement Tockner is professor for aquatic ecology at the Freie Universität Berlin and director of the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB), the largest freshwater ecology institute in Germany (www.igb-berlin.de). He received a PhD at the University of Vienna, and a titular professorship from ETH. He has special expertise on freshwater biodiversity, ecosystem functioning, and river and wetland restoration and management. He is editor-in-chief of the journal Aquatic Sciences, and he has published more than 180 scientific papers including 100+ ISI papers. Tockner was elected member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences as well as of several scientific committees including the crosscutting group on freshwater biodiversity of DIVERSITAS. At present, he coordinates a large EC-funded project on freshwater biodiversity (www.freshwaterbiodiversity.eu).

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Dr. Mark Davis

Senior Research Fellow, Tulane University Law School and Director, Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy

Presentation Title: Square Pegs, Round Holes:  The Disconnect Between New Water Realities and Current Water Management

Until relatively recently under Euro-American traditions water has been treated as a public thing or a commons with few centralized points of management or prioritized uses.  Growing populations and expanding industrialization have propelled a shift toward more intensive water management, a trend that greatly accelerated over the past 100 years or so.  The resulting administrative structures and priorities were largely driven by the desire to foster growth and largely assumed that water could be commanded to serve that growth and the environmental and cultural costs, when they were acknowledged at all, could be effectively managed.   The resulting sprawl of cities and the development and “reclamation” of wetlands and arid areas has produced unprecedented prosperity and production but there is increasing evidence that that growth, prosperity, and production will not be sustainable, at least with significant changes to way water resources are managed and most importantly to the underlying assumption that water in the future will be as available as it has been in the past.

Biographical Information: Mark Davis is a Senior Research Fellow at Tulane University Law School and Director of the Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy at the Law School. The mission of the Institute is to foster an appreciation of the importance of water resources and the vital roles that law and policy play in their management and stewardship.  Prior to coming to the Law School, Davis served for fourteen years as Executive Director of the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, a broad based organization committed to the stewardship of Louisiana’s coast. He is a member of the bar in Indiana, the District of Columbia, Illinois and Louisiana. Davis has taught as an adjunct faculty member at the Indiana University School of Business (Indianapolis), IIT Chicago-Kent School of Law, and Loyola Law School (New Orleans).  He is currently an adjunct instructor at the Tulane University Law School. Davis has a BS and JD from Indiana University and an MLT from Georgetown University.  Davis sits on a number of boards and commissions including: America’s Wetland Foundation Board of Directors, Gulf Restoration Network Advisory Board, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana Advisory Board, Governor’s Advisory Commission on Coastal Restoration and Conservation, Legal and Land Rights Committee, LSU Sea Grant Legal Program Advisory Board, Louisiana State University School of the Coast and Environment Advisory Committee.

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