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ARAMACC at ISC2016 Portland

ARAMACC at Portland 2

Here’s ARAMACC opposite the hotel where the 4th International Sclerochronology Conference (ISC2016) was held earlier this month.  We can all be proud of the significant contribution that ARAMACC made;  about 25% of all talks and posters were by ARAMACC ESRs or their supervisors or people formally associated with ARAMACC.  The contingent from outside the US was overwhelmingly dominated by ARAMACC people.

Some of us were giving our first talks at a major international conference, and having done a practice session beforehand, they all went pretty well.  Question time was by no means easy, but we dealt with them well, and if there was a prize for feistiness it would go to Maria with a spirited defence of modelling that I certainly won’t forget in a hurry.  In the realm of real prizes, congratulations to Tamara who got an award for her poster.  You’ll find lots of pictures from the conference on the Sclerochronology Facebook page.

Thanks especially to Al Wanamaker who organised the conference in spite of living and working 2000 kilometres away in Iowa. I know it was a tough assignment, and while the venue was excellent and we were all comfortable there, it was undoubtedly very expensive.

Looking to the future, the next sclero conference in 2019 will be organised by one of our own – Melita Peharda from Split has taken up the baton.  All of us who have been there know it’s a beautiful venue and I hope over the next three years we can all play a part in making ISC2019 a great success!

Melita5

Melita Peharda announces ISC2019

 

 

 

Split workshop: Science communication

Stef Maria Irene Ariadna Stella

Stefania, Maria, Irene, Ariadna and Stella work on their public engagement strategies

The Science Communication workshop was an exploration of the pitfalls and joys of trying to communicate science to the general public via a media who seem determined to misrepresent what we are doing at every opportunity.  Apparently if there is any scope at all to mention the Bermuda Triangle, the emperor Ming or spiteful murdering of aged clams, that is what they will do, leaving the original research far, far behind.  Michael Carroll and James Scourse entertained us with their own personal experiences, the take-home message being that in the fullness of time all publicity is good publicity but it’s still best to try to keep control of the process and have a site with the real story set up in case of disaster.

Ana Bedalov, who organises the Researchers’ Nights in Split, gave a very entertaining talk about involving children and young people in science, capping it off by slinging a paper tablemat across the room and brealing a glass with it.  Kudos!

Interactive exercises were very entertaining and I hope informative as well.  Some of us definitely have hidden talents as interviewers.  And selling science to a range of disparate types from professional footballers to toddlers turned out to be a piece of cake once you had worked out what made them tick (in the case of toddlers, that’s a piece of cake)

We have some very short movie clips from the public engagement exercise here (warning – these are a bit random and my camerawork is shaky):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3j3hiI0pgp0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AeL1LFKG4Qw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VqNz6lRC55U

 

More professionally, we had a visit from the Croatian news magazine HRT Na zahtjev (our clip starts at 27:20)

http://www.hrt.hr/enz/regionalni-dnevnik/334257/ 

(Technical note – the programme seemed to load very slowly on Firefox and much more quickly on Safari)

Cockle picking on the tidal flats

Wednesday 28th October.  Day 3: Rob Witbaard and Chris Richardson led the group in some practical fieldwork investigating variability of shellfish distribution.  We took advantage of some decent weather to step out of the classroom to a nearby tidal flat where we collected cockles along three 300 metre transects then took them back to the lab to measure them and assess the length frequency distribution along the transects.

Cockle Group 2

Ready for action!

 

Chris and quadrat

Chris shows Irene and Ariadna how to randomly position a quadrat then hold it in position in the mud

 

Sieving cockles

Sarah and Juliane sieve some chunks of mud …

 

Cockles out of the ooze

… and slowly the cockles emerge out of the primeval slime

 

A luverly bag of cockles

“I’ve got a luverly bag of cockles”
Tamara (with fork), Rob (with quadrat), Stella (with scarf and wellies) and Chris (proudly displaying his cockles) after a good days work

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cockle density plot

We even got some results. Density increased strongly towards low water, but there was a sudden cutoff at the edge of the intertidal zone, perhaps because the sediment became more sandy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cooked cockles

But in the end you just have to cook your fieldwork ….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cockles on table

… and eat it !