Wisdom from the Director’s Lava Lamp

Yellow lava lamp on a table along with a mug and business cardsDear CAPpers: As we begin a new year, a new phase of CAP, and a strange new world, I have some news and important information to pass along. First, many thanks to Mark, Cindy, and everyone else who helped make our 2017 All Scientist Meeting such a success. Final head count was more than 100 attendees! I received a great deal of positive feedback about Diane’s excellent and very timely plenary talk, Nancy’s insightful infrastructure talk, and the wonderful collection of fire-talks we had about CAP modelling efforts. The posters were equally impressive. Speaking of the posters, here are the results of our student poster contest (drumroll, please)... And the Winner of the 2017 CAP Student Poster Contest is Megan Wheeler, who presented “Residential soil water model evaluation to improve outdoor water use recommendations in Phoenix, Arizona” with Sharon Hall and Enrique Vivoni! Congratulations, Megan! You won up to $500 towards your travel to a conference where you present your CAP data! We also had two runners-up: Nikita Kowal – who presented “The effects of nitrogen deposition on microbial communities in desert soils” with Becky Ball and Pam Marshall – and Mary Wright, who presented “Extreme heat and power failures; understanding household-scale risks” with a cast of many. Congratulations to Nikita and Mary; you each won $250 towards your travel to a conference where you present your CAP data! You can view their posters here. Thank you to all of our dedicated poster judges. In keeping with CAP tradition, a series of internal funding opportunities will help make your summer more productive. The 2017 CAP Grad Grants RFP is already out, with a deadline of March 2. We will be issuing calls for REU summer support requests (we are waiting to hear from ESA SEEDS whether we will have any SPUR students this summer) and summer faculty salary requests in the near future, so stay tuned. Also, each of the nine ASU academic units that house CAP researchers as faculty have agreed to use the returned indirect funds that they get from our sponsored research office to support students in their unit who are working with their faculty on CAP-related research. The most likely model for this will probably be summer stipends, but those decisions are being made by the CAP faculty in each of the units. This will be recurring, annual student support. Mark and I recently met with Megan Wheeler, who on top of being our Outstanding Poster Author is the CAP Student Group Leader. We discussed a number of exciting ideas for re-invigorating and re-energizing our student group that include both science-based activities and purely social events. We also discussed ideas for a more supportive governance structure for the group, and Megan is investigating both success stories and governance modes from other LTER student groups around the network. The idea is to build and sustain a stronger sense of community among our CAP students – both graduate and undergraduate. So please be watching for her upcoming announcements about activities. To that end, a final point about the CAP Student Group: This is a difficult group to keep tabs on. Students are by their very nature transient – even slippery! We need to be sure that all of our CAP-related students are at least receiving information about Group activities. If you are a CAP student (undergraduate or graduate) and you think you might not be on the group list, please contact Megan and Mark. Stevan has decided that he would like to strengthen our Information Management operations in a couple of ways: 1) He wants to form a CAP Information Management Advisory Committee (IMAC), and 2) he wants to produce a set of Information Management Guidelines. While both ideas will need to be approved by the CAP Executive Committee, I think they are excellent strides and am confident that they will as well. The Committee will include a rotating panel of CAP students, program investigators, and staff that will work with our Information Manager to provide periodic assessments of the scientific content of the CAP website and data catalog, and to help guide informatics policies and procedures. CAP has been a strong supporter of information management; we maintain a robust catalog of site data and contribute to informatics programs at the network level. The new IMAC will build upon this solid foundation and continue to grow the completeness, accuracy, and discoverability of CAP data, ensuring that CAP continues to be a leader in the field of informatics. Finally, a quick note that we continue to work on our next renewal proposal, which will be due in early 2018. The Leadership Team now has a list of everyone who wants to be associated with their IRTs, and as we work on refining our research questions and approaches, they may well be in touch with many of you. Our goal is to have a late draft that is clean enough for a “friendly review” by our BES LTER colleagues by August. Thank you, and keep on being productive! — Dan