Candidate for Student Board Member: David Ortiz

David Ortiz

PhD, 2024 (Center for Limnology, University of Wisconsin-Madison)


Biographical Information

I earned my B.S and M.S. from Iowa State University both in environmental science. At ISU, I became involved in aquatic research, diversifying STEM, and advocating on the behalf of underrepresented communities. I started my scientific career working as a field and lab technician as a sophomore in a wetland ecology lab that focused on the removal of N & P. From there, I made the transition to studying lakes with Dr. Grace Wilkinson for my M.S., where we executed a complementary high frequency and spatial monitoring on a small eutrophic lake. During my six years at ISU, I became heavily involved with Sigma Lambda Beta International Fraternity Inc., Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), the Science Bound Program, and the Latinx student leader council. I helped create programs and workshops in these organizations ranging from learning how to conduct CPR, to teaching about watersheds, to resume and graduate program interview seminars, to raising funds for DACA students. Now at University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Limnology as a PhD student with Dr. Emily Stanley, I am continuing my work exploring spatial-temporal dynamics of lakes and my activism with underrepresented students. At the UW-Madison I am utilizing the FLAMe sampling platform to investigate inner-lake heterogeneity across reginal landscapes and how algal blooms develop spatially. I have continued my involvement with SACNAS as the Vice President of the UW-Madison chapter. We have conducted REU resume and application workshops for our undergraduate members. In addition to my involvement in SACNAS, I am also currently on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity committee for the Center for Limnology where we are working on introducing new policies and making tangible changes to make our facilities more accessible and diverse.

Candidate Statement

While I have not served for ASLO, I know that I will serve the community well from my years of leadership positions in various organizations. My ambitions for serving on the board are to help develop and implement programs that will benefit underrepresented populations in limnology. I would want to start “knowledge groups” for various communities to interact and bond with. For example, there could be a knowledge groups for Latinx limnologists or first-generation limnologists and these groups could meet monthly via zoom and during in-person conferences for authentic connections. These interactions have the potential for members to share experiences of navigating the academic side of intuitions, sharing career milestones, and a space for mentorship from a person with a similar background. While this type of community may take time to grow and become a flourishing part of ASLO, I believe that having groups for subpopulations of limnologists will increase participation, retention, and foster new collaborations. Another initiative I would like to begin would be making science accessible to the general public through blogs and podcasts. This could take the format of digesting an application focused publication, summarizing it, and interviewing a person whom the publication could directly impact. In addition to digesting research articles and their implications, interviewing and answering water-related questions for people. Ranging from: What happened in Flint, MI? Should we be concerned about scumming algae on our local lakes? What is causing more frequent flooding in our communities? What might be some practices that we could implement to improve our water quality in our area? Creating easily consumable content for people who are not steeped in academia or research would be a great method of spreading awareness about water quality issues and sparking interest in budding limnologists. Lastly, I would hope to initiate a yearly survey or suggestion portal to solicit ideas to address any issues that student ASLO members have identified. Crowd sourcing ideas for new programing and initiatives has been a powerful tool I have used in all my prior leadership positions that has been fruitful in efforts to keep my organizations up to date on issues.

In addition to serving on the board to help create some impactful changes I also want to learn how boards function to accomplish their large-scale goals, from planning national conferences, collaborating with different organizations, and how they work towards the strategic plan. I am also interested in how the board has chosen to evaluate their progress in reaching the three goals they had set for these past five years. With that reflection of the past years, I would be excited to create new priorities and help the organization meet those goals over the three-year term. Additionally, meeting and interacting with limnologists from across the country and globe would be a great opportunity to learn about different work, possibly find new collaborations, and hopefully establish new and fruitful mentor-mentee relationships.

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