From Lynn Brennan, NE CSC Graduate Fellow: "Thanks to funding provided by the Southeast and Northeast Climate Science Centers, I was able to spend the week of August 19th at the National Conservation Training Center in West Virginia participating in a Structured Decision Making (SDM) course.
The attendees were a diverse group consisting of graduate students from the Northeast and Southeast, and state and federal agency employees from across the country. The knowledgeable and engaging instructors were equally diverse and included USFWS and USGS employees, as well as a PhD student at Colorado State University who happened to be an alumnus of UMass Amherst! During the course the SDM process was clearly explained and reinforced through examples, with some eye-opening moments for both those who are predominately decision makers and those who are predominately modelers. Throughout the week, small groups met to apply the SDM process to real-world “capstone” problems. These exercises were particularly useful at demonstrating the pit-falls that groups encounter during the SDM process and how to overcome them. The range of participant specialties included biology, ecology, forestry, engineering, atmospheric science, and beyond – lending to interdisciplinary connections and understanding. I was especially excited to meet Thomas Bonnot, another NE CSC Graduate Fellow and the group of researchers and Global Change Fellows from the SE CSC. The week at NCTC fostered a great sense of community among those of us who are early career scientists. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and hope to further my SDM skills in an effort to ensure stakeholder engagement and provide resource managers with useable and accessible climate research."