Broad Exposure to Conservation Science Careers
Laura Figueroa, PhD candidate in Entomology, received a travel award to help her attend the American Museum of Natural History Student Conference on Science Conservation on October 1-5, 2019. She shared feedback about her experience networking with others in the field:
“As a fifth-year PhD candidate at Cornell University, I have had the immense fortune of attending at least one conference every year throughout my tenure as a graduate student. Two weeks ago, I attended the Student Conference on Conservation Science (SCCS – NY) and it stands out as one of the best conferences I have ever been to. SCCS is the only international conference specifically tailored for graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and early career professionals pursuing or interested in conservation science. The SCCS NY is organized by the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History. And yes, that meant that our coffee breaks were held in the iconic Hall of Human Origins and the poster session was housed in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life underneath a giant whale!
Given the magnitude of current conservation challenges, the conference had representation across a wide range of fields, including ecologists, molecular biologists, economists, sociologists, artists, and data scientists. The three-day conference was divided into two days of presentations (10- or 4-minute speed talks and posters) and one additional day of workshops. The speakers presented on topics ranging from the impact of political cycles on deforestation, to population genomic modelling as a way to inform recovery goals in endangered species, and even how transshipment activity launders illegal fishing worldwide. After my speed talk, I received constructive written feedback from multiple mentors that I will incorporate into future presentations.
Attendees could sign up for lunches with mentors focused on specific subjects, such as the use of bioinformatics for conservation and effective ways of increasing diversity in the field. The three-hour long workshops ranged from “Fundraising 101: Tools and Strategies to Raise Funds Through Grants and Scholarships” (organized by mentors from Wildlife Conservation Society and National Geographic Society), to “Population Genomics for Conservation Science” (Yale, CUNY, and AMNH), and “Principles and Practices of Conservation Bioacoustics” (mentors from Cornell!), among many more. The conference included an optional behind-the-scenes tour of a museum collection and a career-fair centered on conservation science.
I left the conference feeling inspired by all of the meaningful conservation work happening all over the world. Learning about new challenges as well as novel solutions were both very important elements of this conference. The incredible network of conservation professionals that I had the honor of meeting I hope to be able to call collaborators and friends for years to come.
If you are interested in attending SCCS NY next year, mark your calendars for October 7–9, 2020!” – L. Figueroa