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Success Stems from Hard Work, Collaborations

Jeff Gunderson

We've recently had the good fortune of helping sponsor two unique events that were highly rated by participants and that had regional and international participants. Given all the uncertainties regarding speakers, attendees, logistics, and equipment complications when planning conferences and symposia, it is a relief when they are over. It is an even better feeling when your staff are complimented on how well everything worked for the speakers and the attendees. The Ecology of Lake Superior Conference was held in May at the Duluth EPA Lab. This conference was put on by a variety of partners and sponsors who all worked well together to pull off this highly regarded event (see Scientists Challenged by Lake Superior and Each Other this issue). This conference highlighted what we know about this lake, as well as what we still need to find out.

The international symposium we helped pull together in the Twin Cities was a first of its kind event focused on genetic biocontrol of invasive fish. The three primary goals of the conference were to 1) review the status of genetic biocontrol technologies; 2) create a risk framework for conducting risk assessments before genetically modified organisms are released; and 3) examine the regulatory context related to genetic biocontrol. This symposium was in the works for almost two years. So at times it seemed like the symposium was so far in the future that it wasn’t real, yet when it was over it seemed like the planning just flew by. This conference was instigated by Anne Kapuscinski, our former aquaculture extension specialist who left us and the University of Minnesota for a prestigious position at Dartmouth College over one year ago. Planning this symposium delayed our sense of her loss to our program. We had three days of presentations and breakout sessions followed by a fourth day focused on the start of writing three research agenda synthesis papers. Like the Lake Superior Conference, this symposium was also the result of a strong collaboration – this time among 11 sponsors and 12 steering committee members. It brought together people from all over the world. The International Symposium on Genetic Biocontrol of Invasive Fish was deemed a success by all in attendance and should lay the groundwork for the possible use and risk assessment of this technology in the future.

Something else I am very proud of is the awards that our staff receive. Science Writer, Sharon Moen, was the recent recipient of two awards. She received the prestigious Gold Award (the top prize) at this year’s Annual University of Minnesota Communicator’s Conference in May for an article she wrote in Cabin Life Magazine. She also won an APEX Award of Excellence for her production of the Sea Grant Files radio show. Jesse Schomberg, Cindy Hagley, John Bilotta, and Barb Liukkonen won a Bronze Award for the Watershed Game from the Association of Natural Resources Extension Professionals. And finally, another award that we were a small part of is the 2010 Environmental Stewardship Award from the Lake Superior Binational Forum for the Weber Stream Restoration Initiative where Jesse Schomberg, Val Brady, and Cindy Hagley played a role.

Helping facilitate these unique conferences/symposia and seeing our staff receive the recognition they deserve is very rewarding. It reflects lots of hard work by all our staff and the strong collaborations we have with our partners.

By Jeff Gunderson
July 2010

Return to July 2010 Seiche

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