Florida Coastal Everglades LTER Program goes to DC

Art, science and policy do not usually appear on the same agenda, but they were all important pieces of a trip to the nation’s capitol in February by Evelyn Gaiser, Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) principal investigator and professor in the Department of Biological Sciences.

The FCE LTER program is dedicated to long-term studies of how freshwater availability interacts with climate change and human activity to affect the Everglades ecosystem structure and its processes. It is operated by the Southeast Environmental Research Center (SERC) in the College of Arts & Sciences. The program is an interdisciplinary collaboration of more than 160 researchers, students and staff from diverse fields in other universities and government agencies. FCE LTER received a grant last December from The National Science Foundation (NSF) to renew the program for an additional six years.

Talk and Opportunity

Each year, NSF hosts a mini-symposium to highlight research from the LTER program. The theme for 2013 was “The Globalization of Long Term Ecological Research.” Seven presenters were chosen from the 25-site network, including FCE, which was represented by FIU Southeast Environmental Research Center’s Tiffany Troxler. Troxler’s presentation, "A focus on tropical systems: international research highlights from the Florida Coastal Everglades LTER," discussed research in Central America and also provided a broad overview of how LTER’s international research has grown. The work was well received by a large audience of NSF program officers and science community and can be viewed on the LTER website.

The mini-symposium was followed by a succession of meetings of the LTER Executive Board (of which Gaiser is a member) and the LTER program officers, including those from the Office of International Science and Engineering, which funded much of the discussed research. Amid anxious speculation about the Sequestration, these meetings gave LTER officers such as Gaiser the opportunity to hear about other upcoming proposal opportunities for international LTER research.Evelyn Gaiser at Xavier Cortada exhibit

Adding Art to Science

FIU was also on display that week through a science-through-art (LTE-Art) exhibit at the NSF. FIU College of Architecture + The Arts Artist-in-Residence Xavier Cortada was one of the featured artists in the exhibit, which also included LTER’s children's book "One Night in the Everglades.”

Gaiser’s busy week in Washington also included congressional visits, LTER Network events and meetings with NSF program officers.