I am currently a 3rd year Ph.D. student with Dr. Cayelan Carey at Virginia Tech in the United States. My dissertation research focuses on phytoplankton community dynamics in lakes and reservoirs, including understanding the effects of epilimnetic mixing on phytoplankton biomass, exploring the drivers of benthic recruitment of phytoplankton and phytoplankton vertical distribution in the water column, and helping to develop an ecological forecasting system for phytoplankton dynamics to assist drinking water managers in maintaining good water quality. As such, my research interests span a variety of both applied and basic research questions.
My first direct experience with GLEON was last year when I attended the G19 meeting at Mohonk Mountain House in New York, USA. I was incredibly excited to attend because I had heard so many positive anecdotes about the GLEON community from my lab mates and advisor. I would get the chance to meet all those scientists whose papers I had been reading; I would meet other graduate students from all over the world; I would spend the meeting actually developing projects that we would work on throughout the year; and there would probably be a great dance party. The meeting lived up to my expectations – I left feeling energized, inspired, and full of plans for all the great science I was going to do with newfound GLEON collaborators in the year ahead.
As a graduate student, my favorite thing about the GLEON community is its grassroots nature – by which I mean that students are given the opportunity to work alongside, chat with, and receive feedback from research scientists at all career stages from around the world. The working group format of GLEON meetings and GLEON’s focus on bringing undergraduate and graduate students and other early-career scientists together for workshops and projects allows students to form independent collaborations outside their home institutions. This is a tremendous opportunity for students to learn to navigate the challenges of team science and allows us to develop skills for engaging in productive collaborations and fostering a positive sense of community in scientific settings. The connections we build through this grassroots network help us meet potential post-doctoral advisors and discover job opportunities. The relationships that we forge through GLEON can help us hit the ground running with collaborators and proposal ideas if and when we end up leading labs or research sites of our own. And the close-knit nature of the GLEON community means that we have experts to reach out to if we want to learn a new skill – whether it be data management, analytical methods, ecosystem modeling, or engaging citizen scientists.
As GSA Co-Chair Elect, my goal is to make all the benefits of GLEON as accessible as possible to as many students as possible, and to effectively use the GLEON network to help students acquire the training, resources, and experience that they need most. To that end, I’m hoping to speak with as many students and other early-career scientists I can at the upcoming G20 meeting to hear what sort of activities, initiatives, workshops, and so on YOU would like to see the GSA take on in the next year or two. So please come talk to me about your ideas! If being a member of GLEON has taught me anything, it is that having a diversity of ideas and opinions on the table and fostering open discussion can lead to great outcomes. I hope to hear from each of you soon about what you would like to see from the GSA and how you would like to contribute to the activities of the GSA moving forward.
About the Author: Mary Lofton is from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA, USA and is a 3rdyear PhD student with Dr. Cayelan Carey studying phytoplankton community dynamics in southwest Virginia drinking water reservoirs.Share