“CoEnv Science in Motion” features community-generated stories from our faculty, staff and students, relating to how they share their science–through such means as blog cross-posts or guest posts, science communication through non-science outlets, and stories about engagement offline as well.

For this installment of SiM, we’re sharing a blog post from Hilary Palevsky, grad student in Oceanography, about the Graduate Climate Conference, a unique annual conference that she helped organize this year.


Graduate Climate Conference, 2012, held at Pack Experimental Forest.

The study of climate and climate change involves an array of disciplines, including atmospheric, biological, earth and ocean sciences, as well as environmental policy and economics.  The Graduate Climate Conference (GCC), held for the 6th time October 26-28, 2012, is a unique setting designed for young researchers in these fields, bringing together graduate students only, in a forum organized by graduate students only, to discuss current research in climate science.  We have the opportunity to share new techniques and avenues of research, discuss recent findings and their implications, and consider the major questions in the future of climate research. The format is designed to encourage new climate scientists to grow acquainted with the details of diverse areas of climate research and to place their own research in the broader context of the climate science community. We envision fostering connections that will lead to future collaborations across disciplines and between institutions.

This year’s conference at the Pack Forest Conference Center at the base of Mount Rainier brought together 83 graduate students from 37 different academic institutions across 19 US states and three foreign countries, and included 33 graduate students from the University of Washington.   Participants were selected in a competitive application from among 214 submitted abstracts, and represented diverse research interests, from inferring past changes in atmospheric circulation from records in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide ice core, to modeling the response of the hydrologic cycle to global warming, to analyzing how US renewable energy policies can drive green innovation.  The three-day conference included opportunities for participants to formally present their research in an oral or poster session, as well as opportunities to informally discuss research and network with colleagues during cafeteria-style meals, over social breaks, and during group hikes and canoe trips at the conclusion of the conference.

The 2012 GCC continued a tradition begun in 2006, when students in the Program on Climate Change at UW hosted the first ever all-graduate student climate conference.  After hosting the GCC four times from 2006-2010, UW students developed a partnership with students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)  expand the reach of the GCC; in 2011 the conference transitioned to a traveling format, and MIT students hosted the 5th GCC in in Woods Hole, MA.  This partnership has already seen success in building connections between UW and MIT students and expanding the conference to students on the east coast of the US.  We envision that the conference will continue to alternate between our two institutions, and MIT students are already at work organizing the 7th GCC for 2013.