â€œWhen you have hayfever you are suffering for the greater good of science.â€œ
-Me. The Larry Meiller Show, WPR. July 16, 2014 [Program Archive]
Of course, I was talking paleoecology and the way we use airborne pollen trapped in lake sediments to help improve models of future climate change. We improve models by reconstructing forests of the past. This is one of the central concepts inÂ PalEONÂ (not suffering, paleoecology): Improve ecosystem model predictions for the future by testing them on independent reconstructions of the past. Give greater weight to models that perform well, and improve models that perform poorly.
I was lucky to be on theÂ Larry Meiller ShowÂ along withÂ Paul HansonÂ to discussÂ PalEONÂ andÂ GLEON, two large scale ecological projects with strong links to The University of Wisconsin. We talked a bit about climate change, large scale research, science funding, open science and historical Wisconsin. It was lots of fun and you can check out the archiveÂ here.
I feel like I was a little more prepared for this interview than I have been in the past. Jack Williams passed along his (autographed) copy ofÂ Escape from the Ivory TowerÂ byÂ Nancy Baron. The book helped me map out my â€œmessage boxâ€ and gave me a much better sense of what people might want to hear, as opposed to the things I wanted to talk about (how much can I talk about uncertainty, age modelling and temporal connectivity?). It was useful, and I hope I came off as well prepared and excited by my research (because I am). Regardless, just like learning R, public outreach is a skill, and one that I am happy to practice, if only because I intend to keep doing it.
Anyway, enough science outreach for one week. With this blog post and WPR Iâ€™m well above quota!