Candidate for Student Board Member Alia Benedict

Alia Benedict

PhD Student (Water Resources Science, University of Minnesota Duluth, USA); M.S. 2022 (Biology, Technical University of Munich, Germany); B.A. 2019 (Biology, Macalester College, USA)

Biographical Information

My name is Alia Benedict and I am a PhD student at the University of Minnesota Duluth. I’m broadly interested in winter limnology, with a specific interest in how changing winters will affect lake food webs. My research directly links seasonal changes in ice cover, temperature, and nutrients to changes in food web structure and function, and lays the groundwork for larger-scale investigations of how climate change will affect our freshwater resources.

I collect my data from inside an ice shack, often alongside local ice fishers. They know a lot about the systems I study, like ice cover trends or how the fish are biting. Over time I’ve become interested in the human relationship to winter, and how it can inform community science. In systems that seasonally freeze, ice is important for transportation, recreation, and food access. As winters grow warmer and shorter, human communities, and the knowledge they hold, will change as well.

I’m committed to promoting actionable and networked climate research. I’m running for ASLO student board member to 1) serve my peers in broader regions, disciplines, and research communities necessary to facilitate broader conversations on winter and climate, and to 2) develop, support, and synthesize student climate research with a focus on centering team and community science.

Candidate Statement

As ASLO student board member, my primary goal is to support student research with a focus on centering team science (a network of scientists with diverse backgrounds and skill sets) and community science (involving community knowledge and participation). Both are important for conducting actionable climate research in a rapidly changing world.

I’m currently a student organizer of the Great Lakes Winter Research Network (GLWiN, formed by Dr. Ted Ozersky), a multi-institutional and international winter research group which addresses current knowledge gaps in Great Lakes winters. In this role, I develop agendas and facilitate monthly meetings for ~30 senior research scientists. At GLWiN I’ve learned a lot about the impact of team science and what it takes to form successful networks. One such trait is inclusivity. Some of the most engaging conversations occur when students and community stakeholders share their research and interests with the group.

Students have important things to say, and good student service amplifies those voices. As a writing tutor, I’ve worked with students with diverse backgrounds, research interests, and language abilities to prepare grant proposals and manuscripts for publication. As a Fulbright alum, I’ve guided undergraduates through the competitive grant application process, leading them to teach and conduct research across the globe. Now, as a member of the Student Committee with the Society for Freshwater Science (SFS), I help nominate undergraduates for travel and research grants. I’ve left these positions with a strong commitment to amplifying the voices of my peers.

As ASLO student board member I will draw from these experiences to bring students together and amplify their voices.

In this role, I will form a student science network that trains students to work collaboratively on climate research. This group will engage students from diverse institutions, disciplines, and career stages to discuss our research goals, share methods, and collaborate on common research objectives.

I will then engage with ASLO’s Public Policy Committee to connect our student network with interested community members, to practice methods for building community relationships, and to facilitate community science projects. This will generate a platform of community science methods that will be shared with the ASLO membership.

The ability to collaborate in diverse working groups is a key skill for students to learn, but it is not taught in classes or in the field. To conduct strong climate science in the future, students must learn how to develop strong research networks now. Good student service can achieve this goal.

I would be honored to continue my service as a member of the ASLO student board to represent the diverse and strong voices of ASLO student members. Thank you for your consideration!

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