Population connections, community dynamics and climate
Those were the main themes of the 5th International Zooplankton Production Symposium held in Pucon, Chile this March 2011. The meeting has just ended yesterday (03/18).
Jeff Runge called those meetings occurring every four years the "Olympics of zooplankton studies". This wit expresses both Jeff's subtle sense of humour and that those meetings are not your regular science meetings. They are unique occasions to assess the current status of our discipline in terms of techniques and brain power. The attendees presented the state-of-the-art in zooplankton science, which declines itself nowadays in a multitudes of specialized topics like molecular techniques, multivariate statistics, in situ observation and of course, numerical methods.
This specialized nature of the modern oceanographic science implies that we all are rare birds in our respective fields. Hence the importance of meetings like this to gather the community of modelers in order to give our field a concerted direction for the few years to come. And I had the feeling that all the participants of the modeling workshop I was participating in were genuinely trying to build bridges between our contrasting approaches where they meet their respective limits. The common aim was to commit ourselves to design our respective models as a suite of numerical tools that could interact together in order to speed-up the understanding of marine ecosystems' complex mechanisms.
At the moment of ending this effervescence of ideas and good energy, the usual assessment was made by Roger Harris, the one oceanographer in the assembly who was present at the very first meeting in 1961!
It was definitely worth it! I would like to finish on a personal note, by telling to any
"young career scientist" fellow that those events are key. You should never let any analysis,
thesis redaction or stubborn supervisor stand between you and the keys to your
future. I had constructive chats, welcome
marks of recognition for the work done mostly alone in front of an irksome monitor,
and even serious job offers.
To finish the advice section, I'll let you on a video tutorial on how to instantaneously carve oneself a place in the hall of fame of your field...