The triennial LTER All Scientists Meeting (ASM) is a mere six months away (September 10-13, 2012) and the planning committee has been working since last June to make this an event to remember. We have an inspiring theme, “The Unique Role of the LTER Network in the Anthropocene: Collaborative Science Across Scales”; a tried and tested venue both for work and free time in Estes Park, Colorado; and a solid four days of plenaries, workshops, working groups, and entertainment. All we need is you to round out the event.

Since their inception in the 1980s, ASMs have brought together some of the brightest minds in long term ecological research. The science that is shared at the network level is hardcore — both finite and exploratory — and addresses the big picture questions at levels that are unattainable with smaller programs or even within sites. With today’s breadth of 26 sites across the nation, the meeting of minds from each of the LTER sites–face to face, student to senior scientist, educator to project manager, science communicator to information manager–is a conjuncture that generates new scientific collaborations and recognitions that carry on for decades.

Those who have already been to an ASM may already be feeling the excitement of the upcoming meeting. But for those who haven’t or need more information in order to make up their minds whether or not to attend, we offer you the following memories from those who have experienced the phenomenon of an LTER ASM:

1) What does the ASM mean to you?

Linda Powell, FCE LTER Information Manager: The ASM is an important meeting for me because I not only get to exchange ideas with my fellow information managers but I get a chance to listen and learn about LTER science throughout the network. It is also a chance for me to work with the scientists as many do attend the information management sessions. The ASM also means mountains: as a geologist living in Florida, it is such a pleasure to attend the ASM meetings in Estes Park where I get my mountain fix!
Robert Waide, LTER Executive Director: Triennial All Scientist Meetings represent one of our most effective mechanisms to promote team-building for cross-site research and synthesis. In contrast to the usual scientific conference, the ASM focuses less on the presentation of individual research results and more on brainstorming, discussion, and synthesis of results from researchers addressing similar questions in different ecosystems. Moreover, ASMs present excellent opportunities to share expertise, to transfer technology among sites, and to generate new scientific concepts, approaches, and experiments. They are, in short, the town hall meetings of the LTER research community.
Sarah Hobbie, CDR Principal Investigator: ASM for me is a chance to learn about all of the exciting science, education, and outreach activities that are going on around the Network and to meet new people and reacquaint with old colleagues and friends in a gorgeous environment that is far away from all of the mundane distractions of my day-to-day work life.
Steven McGee, LUQ LTER: I have found the ASM to be a tremendous opportunity to hear about the wonderful work being done across the whole LTER network and be able to connect with people whose work is similar to yours. These connections have often spawned new collaborative projects that leverage the work of the individual sites.

2) How has the ASM changed your life?

Linda Powell, FCE LTER Information Manager:The ASM broadened my professional network. I get a chance to interact with scientists from other LTER sites…people I’ve heard mentioned by information managers and FCE scientists. It has forced me to be a bit more social and forthcoming with my ideas.

3) I feel that the ASM is important because…

Linda Powell, FCE LTER Information Manager:.It is a great mechanism for scientists, students and technical folks to share their work, troubleshoot their problems and learn what is going on beyond their site’s science. It facilitates project collaboration as it is natural to talk ‘science’ during breaks and mealtimes…you get some real face-to-face time with those folks who share your interests.
Evelyn Gaiser, FCE LTER Lead Principal Inventigator: It is one of our main tools for fostering cross-site synthesis – by better understanding each other’s work and building comfortable collaborative relationships, we can move forward with comparative research agendas and large-scale science and education programs.

4) I have a story to share about ASM…

Linda Powell, FCE LTER Information Manager: I’ve noticed in my past two Estes Park ASMs just how hard the Information Managers really work during the meetings. Every ASM, the FCE site has had the budget to allow many of our students and scientists to attend so you always see groups of people you know from home wandering the grounds between sessions. Many of those folks try to take time to see some of the Rocky Mountain National Park while they’re at the meeting and every time they’d invite me to go along, I’d have to say ‘Thanks but I can’t go. I’m heading to an IM session’!! The IMs work from early morning through dinner everyday! Hopefully I’ll get some time to do a little hiking this year.
Dan Childers, Lead Principal Investigator, CAP: These triennial meetings are critically important to the LTER Network because they are the only venue that is focused on getting everybody from the Network together in one place. These are also important opportunities for LTER students, many of whom will only attend one ASM as a student.

For more information on the 2012 LTER ASM please visit: Registration for the 2012 LTER ASM will open shortly.

Susan Dailey (FCE)
Mary Spivey (CDR)
& Nick Oehm (FCE)