Helping to train the next generation of conservation scientists: running the IGERT on biodiversity conservation in novel ecosystems
It should be hard, but it's not', that's how Shelley describes herding wolverines. Or, more accurately, administering a large new grant aimed at training the next generation of conservation-minded scientists. Research topics range from economics to entomology, genetics to geography. Research locations literally span the globe. But to Shelley, it's a treat. What some might describe as complex or challenging, Shelley describes as 'Getting to work with this amazing group of talented, intelligent and interesting people.' The challenge is to figure out how to actually implement, in a concrete way, the lofty goals set out in the IGERT grant recently received by UW-Madison, and led by Volker Radeloff: 'IGERT: Novel ecosystems, rapid change, and no-analog conditions: the future of biodiversity conservation in human-dominated landscapes.' The IGERT is set to try to revolutionize how students are trained and collaboration occurs, and, in the process, push our understanding of novel ecosystems. As such the IGERT will tackle research questions such as: What are the drivers and future patterns of novel environments? How will species, communities, people and the environment be affected by and adapt to these novel conditions? How can conservation and management succeed given these changes? The goal is to foster graduate student research questions, while also enabling collaborative efforts. The model for the student training is Yo-Yo Ma, an unrivaled virtuoso, yet also a brilliant ensemble performer with musicians from the Silk Road to Appalachia to the Boston Philharmonic who is forever building bridges and charting new territories. The approach: to create a 'community of practice' comprised of committed members and centered on common goals and activities.