Leave a comment

March 20, 2018 by Dr. G

I wrote ten blog posts documenting my journey at OCEANDOTCOMM. You can find those posts through the tag #odotcomm18.

The OCEANDOTCOMM event at the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) has concluded, and I’m writing this as I’m sitting on a plane, hoping to get back to Philadelphia before the worst Nor’easter of the year (so far) hits the city. We’re having engine trouble with the plane, so it may not be the snow that keeps me here!

With all the major semester projects in my courses, I require students to complete a reflection. There is much research into the highly-valued process of reflection, and specific prompts for reflection can prove extremely beneficial to students (see National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2015). I follow the reflection model of the Focused Conversation Method (Stanfield, 2000). The framework is defined as Objective, Reflective, Interpretive, and Decisional (ORID) and is more commonly referred to as the “What, Gut, So What, Now What” model. I update the framework with specific questions for students to respond to that connect the science content they learned and its relevancy and application.

So, I should practice what I preach! Here’s my reflection on OCEANDOTCOMM.

WHAT (Cognitive Description) — I applied and was accepted to OCEANDOTCOMM, an event were few of the details were revealed ahead of time. Sure, I knew the dates and location, and that the event would relate to marine science and science communication – but that was it. On site, the gathering of 40 students and professionals were told that the theme of our event would be “coasta)l optimism,” and that each of us were to work individually and/or in teams to create a product that would highlight success stories of the southern Louisiana coast instead of the “doom and gloom” that the media tends to report, such as sea-level rise, climate change, subsidence, habitat degradation.

Dr. McClain and I at LUMCON

GUT (Affective Description) — When the theme was revealed, I could see why coastal optimism was chosen. I agree that there is too much being shared through all forms of media on what is bad about our planet instead of focusing on what is good and what we can do. It was seeing Dr. Craig McClain’s reaction as he was explaining why this was our theme for OCEANDOTCOMM that I realized how important this was to him and this community. He was asking for help, and his open and honest response to our questions made it very clear we had a purpose.

But then myself (and others, I am sure) had a little panic attack. We only had a few days. How were we going to decide upon a topic? How would we decide who to work with, keeping in mind that the majority of us had never met each other before the event? Where would we (or could we) get the information we needed? We had complete access to the LUMCON fleet, and Dr. McClain and his staff used their networks and made arrangements for us to speak to whoever we wanted.

As the only Earth scientist at my campus, I work alone for most of my research and blogging activities. I’m not used to working with others, so being asked to work with complete strangers was something where I had great hesitation. Although many of the projects shared among the group were very interesting, and everyone seemed really friendly and willing to jump in and share the work, I held back from joining a group. I thought I could be most effective in generating a product working the way I typically work – on my own, and responsible only to myself. In the end, I did join up with another person for a project that is continuing on, focusing on representing coastal optimism through needlework.

As OCEANDOTCOMM continued and I went on fieldtrips and ate all of my meals with my fellow attendees, I felt more and more comfortable with the group. Not only was everyone committed to Dr. McClain’s mission, but we were such support for each other. On the last day, I was so proud of what everyone accomplished, including myself. It was difficult and sad to say goodbye to everyone. I feel that we just became a professional community, and now, we’ll have to rely on social media and other forms of communication to keep this professional network going. This will be a challenge as we each return to our busy day-to-day lives.

My amazing roommate Lali DeRosier with me!

SO WHAT (Analysis & Interpretation) — I feel that what OCEANDOTCOMM did and will continue to do is important. This was a meeting with a completely different type of format – and expectation to get something done, not just to hear what others have already completed. This is an excellent model for an event. Asking us to come to an event where we didn’t even know the theme required us to have some trust and to take individual risk. The theme, the venue (and yes, even all living together in on-site housing), and the people were all the right combination. Having access to other scientists, field sites, and even the visit with the Indian Tribe was incredible. Personally, I feel that getting in the field and meeting face-to-face with individuals is the best primary source for research, better than anything I could read in a journal article or watch on a YouTube video.

Now that I know I can successfully participate in an event that is somewhat cryptic on the details, I won’t turn away from something like OCEANDOTCOMM again. And I would even encourage others to consider this type of format and how progress and products (still in-progress or completed) can be accomplished.

NOW WHAT (Application & Decisional) — I have many ways I can apply what I have learned. I need to make sure I share this experience with others, starting with my students on campus, through my AGU blog, etc. I need to help my peers from this event promote their work. Some of these products I cannot wait to use in the classroom with students and share with other teachers! I need to help others consider this type of format for their own events. I need to make an effort to keep in touch with everyone, as I feel that I formed some valuable connections (a “bond” if you will) with this shared experience. Most importantly, I need to be mindful that I include a message of optimism in all of my teaching, research, and service.

On the dock at LUMCON – the #odotcomm18 participants and LUMCON staff!

(And I need to thank LUMCOM and their sponsors for such an incredible event (and this amazing challenge coin (challenge accepted!)), as well as thanking American Airlines for repairing the plane and getting this flight off the ground!)



This blog post was created from OCEANDOTCOMM and supported by the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


Follow me on Instagram

Today I attended a conference event like no other I've attended in all of my meeting experiences.... the Ocean Sciences Storytellers program! #OSM20 connected with 10 public libraries in San Diego and arranged for ocean scientists to participate in a storytime event for kids! We each received an ocean-themed book to bring to the library, to read, and then to donate to the library's collection. Wendy from @sdpubliclibrary Central Library led an amazing storytime, with three of us from Ocean Sciences (Riley, Heather, and myself) reading books and talking about our lives as oceanographers. We sung songs, danced to Baby Shark, and more, with over 20 kids and their adults that drove them there (the kids were less than 6 years old)! Soooooo much fun in such a great space! #storytime #drseuss #thelorax #library #storytime #storytellers
Tuesday at #OSM20 ended with back-to-back-to-back events for me! I presented my poster on using quilts for scientific storytelling (Stitching Hope for the Louisiana Coast). There was so much interaction with attendees, hearing their own quilt stories - and so many people asked to film me descirbing my quilts, and I was even interviewed for a podcast! Then it was off to the NASA Earth Science Division Town Hall to hear the latest-and-greatest from NASA. And the day wrapped with with a student/alumni reception with the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science (@umiamirsmas), where I earned my PhD in marine geology & geophysics.
The Exhibit Hall at any meeting, including #OSM20, is always an interesting experience, filled with scientific instruments and visual displays you may want but have no room/no need for (or cannot afford), booths of universities promoting their graduate programs, the NASA hyperwall you wish you could just sit in front of and be mezmerized by all day, and book publishers with so many amazing books you wish you had time to read.... except there is one I am going to shameless promote on behalf of my brother-in-law. Richard J. King wrote Ahab's Rolling Sea: A Natural History of Moby Dick. In this book, Rich details what was known about whales and natural history back in Herman Melville's time, and what events from Melville's own life experiences influenced the writing of his classic book.Be sure to pick up a copy at The University of Chicago Press booth! (*photos of the @uchicagopress booth taken with permission)
As a blogger for @americangeophysicalunion I am able to attend press events and briefings at #OSM20 (it is a great opportunity for me to gather information to later blog about). I started Tuesday morning learning about Oceanography in Space, and how Earth's ocean can act like an analog for oceans in space. I honestly wasn't aware of how many oceans exist on the planets/moons in our solar system, and why we need to understand our own ocean better (what's at the bottom, ocean circulation, life at vents and other regions, etc.). So many missions I'll now be paying attention to - Dragonfly, Europa Clipper, Jupiter ICy moon explorer (JUICE), and Cassini-Huygens... The best take-home message for me was that oceanographic knowledge is needed for planning these forward missions, but we can then reverse engineer to study our own ocean. Going to space let's us go back and look at Earth.
In addition to the three(!) sessions I was chairing on Monday, I was able to attend a few others, such as this #OSM20 Town Hall on the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. I had attended a Town Hall back in 2018 at the AGU Fall Meeting on the same topic, and I'm really looking forward to celebrating all-things ocean in 2021-2030! Alas, this session didn't seem to provide quite the information the audience was looking for - such as, how can we become involved? As the IOC still needs to approve the plans to oversee official activities, we were challenged to think about getting knowledge needed to make decisions for sustainable development, and how to elevate programs that are already taking place. Seems like we shouldn't wait for 2021 - contributions, collaborations, and communications can/should certainly be taking place now. The ocean can't wait for us.
%d bloggers like this: