Director’s Blog 7/19/19

Director’s Blog July 19, 2019
By Ian Billick, PhD

I’m thinking about how we use our seminar series, the Douglass Distinguished Lecturer Series (an endowment that funds bringing in an outside speaker), public talks, and travel grants to achieve larger community objectives in a coordinated fashion. Before deciding how we do things, we have to decide what we want to achieve. Here are some of the things that I’ve
1. Learn more about questions/systems beyond RMBL.
2. Chance for students and scientists to interact with a wider range of scientists than is just found at RMBL.
3. Opportunity for visiting scholars to explore working at RMBL, including establishing potential educational/research collaborations.
4. Chance to bring in greater cultural/ethnic diversity among senior scientists as role models for students.
5. Chance for graduate students to develop leadership/organization skills by organizing visits.
6. And of course, promote the flow of ideas/collaboration within the RMBL community.
7. Build greater awareness of RMBL among the larger scientific/public community.

What do you think? Is that a good list? Is anything important missing? Once we’ve refined our goals, I’ll focus on a range of questions, including:
1. Do we want to prioritize certain types of speakers next year? If so, how? What should the balance be between RMBL and non-RMBL scientists?
2. Can we use travel grants and/or the seminar program to more effectively increase the diversity of visiting scholars? We get feedback from the students that they really appreciate it when they have role models that share similar backgrounds.
3. Should we run the DDL committee the same way as in years past? We’ve had a 3-person committee, with one person rotating off/on each year, that has wide discretion to bring in whoever they think is best. Kudos to Brian Inouye, Jill Anderson, and Kristina Stinson for taking the lead this year!
4. Should we run the seminar series the same way as in years past? Many thanks to Bobbi Peckarsky for running it for 16 of the last 18 years! Should we find someone to step into her waders and carry the dip net? Or should we do something different?
5. How much should we award in travel grants?
6. What kinds of public speakers are good for public talks but also add to the scientific/education community?
7. Should we replace one of the Tuesday night talks with flash talks? The pollination symposium Nicolas Alexander organized this summer (way to make things happen Nicolas!!), seemed wildly successful!
8. Is there any way to knit these activities into a more integrated whole???

If you have opinions on any of the thoughts above or would like to be more involved in organizing talks/visits, please let me know! Towards the end of July I will be figuring out a general approach for next year. I have already committed to the graduate students that they will get to identify a speaker for next year.

Don’t hesitate to track me down or schedule a time to talk about anything on your mind. Suggestions for blog posts are always welcome!