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September 19, 2023

At their first in-person meeting in August 2023, the CASC’s Climate Adaptation Postdoctoral Fellows learned how to manage the challenges and rewards of collaborative synthesis science.

Participants in the Climate Adaptation Postdoctoral (CAP) Fellows Program met for their first in-person workshop the week of August 21, 2023, in Santa Barbara, CA. The postdoctoral fellows, university researchers, and USGS staff worked together on a national synthesis project and participated in professional development training.  

“The hope is by bringing together scholars from different backgrounds, they will be able to create something they wouldn’t be able to make by themselves,” says Amanda Cravens, a Research Social Scientist at the USGS Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center who led trainings at the workshop. “This training and this process is something they can take with them into their future careers and maybe become leaders in integrative and synthesis science.”  

The six fellows are part of the 2022-2024 “Future of Aquatic Flows” cohort, the second group of CAP Fellows since the program’s inception in 2020. Each fellow is hosted at a regional CASC and conducts research on regional hydrology and stream dynamics, creating a national network of scholars working on similar topics.  

Postdocs, mentors, and CASC staff posing as a group on a sunny patio, with mountains in the background
Postdoctoral researchers, faculty mentors, and CASC staff participating in the Future of Aquatic Flows cohort at their first in-person workshop in August 2023. From right to left: Madeleine Rubenstein (USGS National CASC), Will Farmer (USGS Northeast CASC), Richard Palmer (University of Massachusetts Amhurst, Emeritus), Kostas Andreadis (University of Massachusetts Amhurst), Michelle Baker (Utah State University), Jennifer Koch (University of Oklahoma), Charlotte Lee (North Carolina State University), Jay Wimhurst (University of Oklahoma), Yog Aryal (Indiana University), Farah Nusrat (Utah State University), Holly Barnard (University of Colorado Boulder), Jenny Pensky (University of Colorado Boulder), Megan Behnke (University of Alaska Southeast), Jackson Valler (USGS National CASC), Shawn Carter (USGS National CASC), Jason Fellman (University of Alaska Southeast). 

During the workshop, CAP fellows received training on team science, actionable science, and synthesis science, topics rarely covered in graduate education. For many, this was their first encounter with applied research. They valued learning about actionable science models from researchers within the CASC network.  

They then immediately put their training into practice as they worked together to identify a topic for a national synthesis project. Drawing upon their unique research backgrounds and regional project experiences, the fellows worked together to build a collaborative research project addressing national-scale management challenges associated with climate change and aquatic flows. Getting to design and implement a project at this scale, and with this many collaborators, was a new experience for many fellows. 

Five people are talking around a long conference table.
Postdoctoral scholars with the Future of Aquatics Flows cohort of the Climate Adaptation Postdoctoral (CAP) Fellows Program met at an in-person workshop in Santa Barbara, California in August 2023. They worked together to identify a topic for the national synthesis project they will work on together over the next two years.

The fellows and mentors enjoyed the opportunity to meet each other in person for the first time and to learn from each other through the (sometimes difficult) conversations. Even during the “groan zone” that comes with building a new team, they became fast friends. The sunny Santa Barbara location helped, as did the bright meeting spaces generously provided by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis.  

“It’s been this beautiful opportunity to see people really intentionally making space for each other, and it models the type of science that I find really encouraging,” says Megan Behnke, a CAP Fellow working with the Alaska CASC at the University of Alaska Southeast.  

“Being a postdoc can be very lonely, so it’s been lovely to become part of this cohort of people who care about water from all these different perspectives.” 


About the CAP Fellows Program 

Hosted by the USGS Climate Adaptation Science Centers (CASCs), the CAP Fellows Program supports applied research at both national and regional scales. Each two-year fellowship cohort is centered around a common climate theme, such as wildfire or aquatic flows. Through the program, fellows conduct management-relevant research to help partners on the ground understand and adapt to challenges relating to their theme. 

Learn more >> 

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