Each spring, over 200 early career researchers (mostly undergraduate and graduate students) meet for the three-day Midwest Ecology and Evolution Conference. Usually, the conference is held at a large university, but this year was different. For the first time in over 30 years, MEEC was hosted here at KBS, a field station.
This is no ordinary meeting. MEEC is specifically meant to bring undergraduate and graduate students together to showcase their work to one another make connections with researchers at a similar career stage, and the students run the show. Unlike most other conferences that are organized by a central group, MEEC is planned and run entirely by a group of volunteer graduate students from the host institution.
This year’s dream team of five KBS graduate student organizers (Tayler Chicoine, Heather Kittredge, Robert Logan, Ravi Ranjan, and Meredith Zettlemoyer, pictured at right) worked closely with the KBS Conference Center and a small army of volunteers to put together the largest meeting KBS has ever hosted. Over 215 attendees from eight states traveled to KBS April 6 – 8 to participate in talks, poster presentations, and networking.
We were lucky enough to have two awesome plenary speakers this year. Jay Lennon from Indiana University spoke about using scaling laws to predict species richness at global scales. On Sunday, Jessica Hellmann from the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment spoke about how organisms and species respond to changing climates and the urgency of climate adaptation.
Three panel discussions on Saturday allowed students to learn more about getting into and succeeding in graduate school, exploring nonacademic science careers, and how to do collaborative science. Sheryl Kirshenbaum, executive director of Science Debate, led a science communications workshop on Saturday that packed the room.
MEEC 2018 by the numbers
- 215 participants
- 80 graduate students (37%)
- 89 undergraduate students (41%)
- 39 different institutions represented
- 44 oral presentations
- 97 poster presentations
Robert Logan is a graduate student in the Evans lab at KBS, studying the role microorganisms play in biogeochemical cycling in arid environments.