So you’ve hatched a great idea; pulled together a strong team; written a compelling proposal; beat out some worthy competition, and gotten funded. Congratulations! Now what?

Don’t panic. the Network Communications Office is here to help with every step of the working group process. The information on these pages will give you an overview of the process and the information you need to get started. But if you don’t find your questions answered here, don’t hesitate to call.

working group process

Working Group Award

Shortly after the working group decisions are made, the NCO will make a public announcement of the selected working groups. Marty Downs, NCO Communications Officer, will work with you to develop a short, accessible summary of the proposed synthesis that will be posted on the LTER web site and disseminated via social media. You’re encouraged to share the announcement with your dean or department chair and your network.



Please contact NCO Travel Coordinator Ginger Gillquist at gillquist@nceas.ucsb to schedule your initial LTER Working Group meeting, reserve meeting space, and confirm the names and addresses of participants in your group.  Check the calendar of NCEAS working groups before polling your participants to be sure which dates are potentially available.

Inviting Participants

About 10 weeks before your working group is scheduled to occur, the NCO will send official invitations, which will contain all the necessary travel information for your participants to arrange their trips to Santa Barbara (e.g. hotel reservations, guidance for booking flights, and information regarding visas for international travelers). You will have an opportunity to review the draft invitation and provide a final list of participants with their contact information. Each participant is asked to confirm his or her reservation with the hotel at least one month in advance of the meeting date. The hotel will bill the NCO directly for the cost of the rooms unless we have discussed some alternative arrangement with you beforehand.

As your meeting approaches, if you have participant cancellations or additions, please let us know by emailing Ginger at

Support Needs

One major advantage of meeting at NCEAS is the computing support we can offer for your synthesis project. As you begin to structure the work before you, the NCEAS computing team is available to consult on collaboration tools, use of servers, data archiving, and open science practices. Julien Brun, our scientific programmer, and a team of data interns will work with you throughout the working group process. We suggest that working group leads and the designated technical liaison schedule a time to meet with Julien early in the planning process.


Day 1: As you start to develop your working group agenda, there are a few items to bear in mind. Sometime on the first day (typically first thing in the morning) we will want to reserve about 30 minutes for:

NCEAS logistics and introductions to admin and computing staff

A brief introduction to the NCO by Executive Director Frank Davis or Deputy Director Marty Downs

A brief presentation on the role of diversity in effective collaboration and a pre-meeting survey

Mid-week: Interaction between the visiting working groups and the NCEAS resident community is a source of energy and ideas for both. During your first working group meeting, we request that one of the group’s leaders present at the Wednesday Roundtable, organized by our community of early career researchers.  We will request a talk title, abstract and presenter bio a few weeks before your working group is scheduled.

Before you go: On the last day of the meeting, we  request that you set aside 15 minutes for participants to complete a post-meeting survey.

About a week before your arrival, please send your complete agenda to the NCO travel coordinator Ginger Gillquist, so that she can distribute it to key administrative and technical personnel.

While You Are Here


NCEAS has a large conference room that can comfortably accommodate 20 people, with a maximum of 24.  We also have two additional spaces available for breakout groups of 8-10 people and another that holds up to 16. The conference room is equipped with LCD screens, white boards, printers, and internet access (both wired and wireless). NCEAS has a common-use computer laboratory equipped with various software and operating systems, as well as a fax machine, color printer, and copy machine.  Video conferencing (both Zoom and GoToMeeting) is also available. Please contact our IT staff  in advance of your meeting for more information.

We will provide your working group with snacks for breaks, and coffee and tea throughout the day. Typically, groups eat their lunches and dinners together at any of the many near-by restaurants. Our staff can direct you to restaurants that can handle groups and can also help arrange food delivery should you want to have a working lunch. Additional information is available on the NCEAS web site.

Computing Resources

NCEAS provides a variety of computing resources and support including advice on scientific computing and data analysis, customized online collaborative services (e.g., a password-protected intranet for your working group), data archiving, and general IT support. A member of our computing staff will contact you prior to your meeting to discuss your data and computing needs. You can contact our computing staff by emailing with any questions regarding available computing resources for your meeting. Additional information is available on the NCEAS web site.

Fun and Community

Santa Barbara is a great destination, with fine restaurants, museums, historical sites and many outdoor activities. The welcome site for first time visitors and residents give a brief overview or just ask any of the staff or residents. We love sharing our city with newcomers.

After you go

Budget Guidelines

The LNCO offer letter accepting your working group proposal outlines your budget for your meetings at NCEAS and offsite. You will be responsible for monitoring spending and ensuring that your group stays within this approved amount.

Reimbursement Policies and Procedures

About a week before the meeting, synthesis group participants will receive an email with reimbursement forms attached. A generic reimbursement form can also be accessed on the LNCO website. Unless your budget has other restrictions in place, participants will receive a maximum of $55/day to cover food (no alcohol) expenses. The hotel charges will be directly billed to the LNCO. Please record all meal expenses and save any miscellaneous travel receipts during your stay. Reimbursement forms should be submitted within 15 days after the conclusion of each meeting.

Publications, Outputs, and Acknowledgements

Derived datasets must be archived in a publicly accessible database that is indexed by DataONE. The Environmental Data Initiative is likely to be the first choice for LTER-related products, but investigators may choose other repositories to improve access by specific communities of researchers. For instance, the Arctic Data Repository for Arctic data in or GenBank for genomic data.

Funding Acknowledgement

Please use the following acknowledgement for both data and publications resulting from synthesis group efforts: “This work was conducted as a part of the (Insert your Working Group Title) Synthesis Group funded by the National Science Foundation under grant DEB#1545288, through the Long Term Ecological Research Network Communications Office (LNCO), National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), University of California-Santa Barbara.”

As you begin wrapping up your work and planning publications, please include LNCO Deputy Director Marty Downs and LNCO Communications Officer Kristen Weiss in your conversations so that we can anticipate outreach opportunities and assist in framing and communicating results for diverse audiences.

Every three months, NCEAS Communications Officer Jenny Seifert will also ask lead investigators for information on upcoming publications and outputs. Please respond to Jenny’s inquiry in a timely way. This information helps NCEAS track the long-term results of synthesis groups.