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CEREO Newsletter- 2015 March

Message from the Director

Many environmental researchers and educators across the WSU system employ computationally intense approaches in their work, and may or may not be sure that discussions of “big data” apply to them. Big data is a term that generally refers to large volumes of data not readily handled by the usual data tools and practices; the issues that accompany such departures from more familiar data handling are frequently classified as “the 4 V’s” – Volume, Velocity, Variety, and Veracity. Environmental researchers increasingly need special tools and approaches to handle high volume data such as LANDSAT images, data arriving quickly like sensor data, integration of diverse datastreams, and verifying the quality and provenance of all of these data types as we construct our workflows.

CEREO is working to support the WSU environmental research, education and outreach community in their efforts to take advantage of computing advances in diverse environmental projects and to prepare trainees for more data-intensive jobs. We are planning several workshops from the Software Carpentry (more info below) and Data Carpentry groups, who take a train-the-trainers approach so that trainees emerge from a multi-day workshop with some basic computing skills that ease environmental research (e.g. how to get the data you want out of a data logger or big repository without crashing your desktop computer!) and some of those trainees receive additional preparation to become Carpentry instructors themselves. These non-profit organizations have grown rapidly in recent years, in response to a science community that is hungry for this type of bootcamp – the workshops frequently fill up within 12 hours of opening! The workshops also build community – it’s great knowing that there are others around you who are working on similar issues even if they are in a different department.

– Stephanie

Research News

CEREO Seminar Highlights

So far this semester, our seminar series explored collaboration and human agency in environmental science with Drs. John Parker and Jeff Joireman, and the impacts of water pollution and climate change with talks from Dr. Allison Coffin and Dr. Victoria Keener.   Be sure to visit the CEREO Seminar calendar for updates and more info.

Dr. John Parker on interdisciplinary collaboration

CEREO and REACCH were pleased to co-sponsor a visit from Dr. John Parker, a Research Fellow with the Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University. The focus of his talk was examination of the social conditions that lead to successful, integrative, interdisciplinary scientific collaborations, such as those fostering the trust and communication efficiency that accelerate idea generation. Three research centers, the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), the Decision Center for a Desert City (DCDC) and Stockholm Resilience Alliance (SRA) were used to highlight the role and importance of institutions as boundary organizations, synthesis centers and coherent groups in scientific endeavors.  View his seminar here.

Dr. Jeff Joireman on social dilemmas

WSU’s own Dr. Jeff Joireman, Associate Professor in the Department of Marketing, spoke on the conflict of individual vs. collective social interest in natural resource management. Dr. Joireman’s work focuses on better understanding how decision-making is shaped by an individual’s proclivity for internalizing and prioritizing present vs. future consequences. In his talk he explained how the presentation of scientific information can influence how individuals perceive resource scarcity, and what individual characteristics are associated with increased support of long-term, environmentally-beneficial actions.  View his seminar here.

Dr. Victoria Keener on climate change issues

Visiting WSU from the East-West Center in Hawaii, Dr. Keener, a Research Fellow and Principal Investigator of the Pacific Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISA) program spoke about the integrated research underway to identify and address climate change issues for Pacific Islands. In her talk, Dr. Keener described how Pacific RISA researchers are quantifying future changes in island-scale climate, land uses, and hydrologic cycles. She also provided insights into how the East-West Center, acting as a boundary organization, helps translate climate science into information that can be used by policy-makers and managers to improve long-term planning.  View her seminar here.

Dr. Allison Coffin on fish sensory development

Dr. Allison Coffin is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Veterinary & Comparative Anatomy, Pharmacology & Physiology at Washington State University in Vancouver, WA. Her recent CEREO seminar explained the role of different environmental impacts on fish sensory cells. During her talk, she discussed the differences in sensory abilities between hatchery-raised and wild salmon, as well as the impacts of commonly-occurring water pollutants (BPA) on sensory cell regeneration in zebra fish. Dr. Coffin is a recent awardee of a 2014 CEREO Seed Grant.  View her seminar here.

Other CEREO-Sponsored Events

The Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the Contemporary World- with James Anaya

james_anaya2James Anaya, distinguished author on the international human rights of indigenous people and law professor at the University of Arizona, presented a public lecture on February 12th at Washington State University campus in Spokane.  Anaya served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples from 2008-2014.  His lecture, titled ‘The Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the Contemporary World: The Powers of Ideas and the Challenges of Implementation’ focused on international rights of Indigenous people.  Anaya discussed the challenges that indigenous communities face in securing their rights, particularly over natural resources such as water and land.  In addition to discussing the challenges and complexities, Anaya provided numerous recommendations and lessons learned from his six years as the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This event was co-sponsored by The Foley Institute, CEREO, University of Arizona College of Humanities, and Eastern Washington University.

CEREO Newsroom Project Begins

The CEREO Newsroom recently selected five graduate research projects to be highlighted by Murrow College of Communication undergraduate students interested in gaining experience in science communication. These student teams will work together to produce news videos and written articles covering the issues and current research of a wide variety of environmental topics. Congratulations to the following teams and stay tuned for Newsroom updates:

Food Farming in Rapidly Urbanizing Southwest Washington
Scientist: Judith Wait, School of the Environment (Vancouver)
Reporters: Shane Michard and James Cador

Sustainable Production of Aviation Biofuels from Woody Biomass
Scientist: Vikram Ravi, Civil and Enviromental Engineering (Pullman)
Reporter: Hannah Ray Lambert

Finding Patterns in Fish Behavior- Implements for Management
Scientist: Alli Cramer, School of the Environment (Pullman)
Reporter: Linda Prado

Improving the Tolerance of Multiple Wheat Varieties to Drought Stress
Scientist: Megan Lewien, Crop and Soil Science (Pullman)
Reporters: Shane Michard and James Cador

Tracing Foodweb Effects of Marine-Derived Nutrients From Spawning Salmon:
An Opportunity to Explain a Critical, Ecological Process in Pacific Northwest Streams
Scientist: Laura Livingston, School of the Environment (Pullman)
Reporter: Grayson Parr


photo by Megan Lewien
photo by Megan Lewien
photo by Josh Larios
photo by Josh Larios
photo by Megan Lewien
photo by Megan Lewien

Other News

Software Carpentry Workshop

CEREO is excited to offer a two-day Software Carpentry workshop in Pullman on April 27-28, 2015. The goal of Software Carpentry is to provide basic training for scientists who want to learn to build, use, validate and share data using versatile open-source software such as R, so that they can spend less time wrestling with software and more time doing useful research. Registration for the workshop is open to CEREO affiliates and will be limited to 30 participants. Note that some travel support is available to participants coming from WSU locations outside of Pullman!

Software Carpentry is a non-profit organization offering workshops that have sky-rocketed in popularity in the past several years; frequently the workshop registration fills up quickly, so be sure to sign up soon!

Register for the WSU CEREO Software Carpentry Workshop here.


NSPIRE and Murrow Team to Enter Video Contest

NSPIRE graduate students and Murrow College of Communication undergraduates have collaborated on a video submission to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Grand Challenges for Engineering Video contest. The NAE contest solicited videos that explain why “achieving one or more of the NAE Grand Challenges will lead to a more sustainable, healthy, secure, and more joyous world.” 

This WSU team focused their efforts on the Grand Challenge of managing the nitrogen cycle.  You can view their video submission below, or using this link.

Also, keep in mind that this competition also has a People’s Choice Award- to help this video win, “like” it on YouTube!




86th Conference of the Northwest Scientific Association, April 1-4, 2015

Past, Present, & Future Challenges to Natural and Manmade Ecosystems:  sagebrush, salmon, & syrah in a non-stationary environment- Columbia Basin College, Pasco, Washington

WSU CEREO Software Carpentry Workshop– April 27-28, 2015

CEREO is hosting a Software Carpentry workshop in Pullman, WA.  Register for the workshop here- a $25 fee applies.

6th Annual Pacific Northwest Climate Science Conference, Nov 4-5, 2015 in Coeur d’Alene, ID

The PNW Climate Science Conference annually brings together more than 250 researchers and practitioners from around the region to discuss scientific results, challenges, and solutions related to the impacts of climate on people, natural resources, and infrastructure in the Pacific Northwest.

Stay tuned for further details regarding abstract submission, registration, and program news. In the meantime, please contact John Abatzoglou ( with any questions about the conference.



IPBES Call for Nomination of Experts

Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services is launching a call for experts to help develop 1) a set of regional and sub-regional assessments of biodiversity and ecosystem services, 2) a thematic assessment of land degradation and restoration, or 3) a global assessment of biodiversity and ecosystem services.



2015 DataONE Summer Internship Program– Applications due March 16, 2015

DataONE is pleased to announce the availability of summer research internships for undergraduates, graduate students and recent postgraduates.

2015 WALPA ScholarshipsApplications due April 17, 2015

The Washington Lakes Protection Association is offering two student scholarships valued at $1,500 each (plus funds to cover registration and two nights’ accommodation for each recipient at the annual meeting).  Student scholarships will be awarded to further our understanding of the limnology, hydrology, ecology, and management or restoration of lakes and watersheds in Washington or Idaho.

EREF Graduate Scholarships in Solid Waste ResearchApplications due May 1, 2015

Scholarships are awarded by the Environmental Research and Education Foundation (EREF) to recognize excellence in master’s, doctoral or post-doctoral waste management research and education.

2015 Science & SciLifeLab PrizeApplications due August 1, 2015

The Prize is awarded annually to one young scientist for outstanding life science research for which he/she was awarded a doctoral degree in the previous two years. The topic of the entrant’s thesis research must be in one of the following categories: Cell and Molecular Biology, Genomics and Proteomics, Ecology and Environment, Translational Medicine.

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