The fields of ecosystem ecology and land-atmosphere interactions owe a great debt to Dr. David J. P. Moore and his work in shepherding the next generation of Earth system scientists. Dave is at the vanguard of a community effort to train early-career scientists and technical professionals how to combine data and models to assess impacts of global change on ecosystems and associated biogeochemical cycles. Dave helped develop a first-of-its-kind summer course in flux observations and advanced modeling (Fluxcourse). Under his leadership, the 2-week course is now entering its twelfth year. The Excellence in Earth and Space Science Education Award recognizes Dave’s passion and educational accomplishments in Fluxcourse and sustained contributions to education and professional development of early-career scientists.
More than 200 scientists from around the world have been trained by the course, in emerging global change fields that are increasingly important but not available at many universities. The course brings a diverse student body to a beautiful research station in the Colorado Rockies, where they gain hands-on experience in eddy covariance, integration of high-density databases, model-data fusion, and ecological synthesis and inference. Modules are taught by the world’s experts, and the collaborative assignments foster career-building connections. Dave has succeeded in his commitment to increasing the participation of students and instructors traditionally underrepresented in the field, from multiple countries and institution types.
Dave’s pedagogic framework is highly effective. He employs social media tools, professionally produced interactive film modules for international education, and personal alumnus contacts. Five years ago, Dave launched an initiative to expand the reach of the course, building it into a novel, globally based platform that fosters long-term student and postdoc collaborations. This strategy has created a multidisciplinary network of dispersed but highly motivated early-career researchers capable of tackling the difficult tasks of Earth system forecasting and climate impact assessment.
Dave’s dedication to Fluxcourse is catalyzing a major transformation in the way we participate in international education and collaboration in our field. Scientists now collect and store more ecological observations than ever before, spurring a need for new analytical approaches built upon open data and collaboration that use empirical, statistical, and process-based modeling approaches. Fluxcourse fills a critical training and pedagogical need in model-data fusion that supports analysis at policy- and management-relevant scales and fosters the development of cross-discipline alliances that span career stages and expertise. Dave Moore’s impact will be felt in our community for generations to come.
—Ankur R. Desai, University of Wisconsin–Madison; Margaret S. Torn, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, Berkeley, Calif.; and Kimberley A. Novick, Indiana University Bloomington
I would like to thank AGU and my colleagues who nominated me. This is an honor for me and for those who have made the Fluxcourse a success over the past 12 years.
As an ecologist, I have witnessed profound change in how we create new knowledge. Contemporary ecological challenges extend beyond any one individual’s expertise. Advances in data collection offer unprecedented opportunities to meet these challenges, and this has been mirrored by advances in mathematical modeling and analytic techniques. Combining models and data help us ask clearer questions, collect more useful data, and design more skillful models. Whether your science is rooted in observation or focused on analytical models, a great deal of knowledge, skill, and dedication is required to succeed. However, effective communication between observationalists and modelers is challenging, and specialization can lead to the isolation of the two communities to the detriment of both. Each has evolved barriers in the form of their own languages, norms, and approaches—the Fluxcourse seeks to break these down.
Attendees work through the scientific and logistical issues of making measurements and the conceptualization and execution of mathematical models. We learn the benefits and shortcomings of different approaches and try to build a community of practice that emphasizes dedication to expertise and the willingness to collaborate.
There are many people to thank: Russ Monson and Dave Schimel for pulling me into this enterprise; Kim Novick and Betsy Cowdery, who maintain my faith in it; and Ray Leuning, who continues to inspire. The course is a coalition of the willing, and it succeeds because it has strong community support. Early-career scientists come from all over the world to learn, and instructors come from academia, research networks, and industry to help attendees learn and develop as scientists in a beautiful setting provided by the University of Colorado’s Mountain Research Station. Instructors are all volunteers, some from the beginning, some whenever they could, others are eager to pitch in now—we could not run the course without their generosity. It is a delight to wander the halls of AGU and see the course alumni as they advance in their career. Fluxcourse was just one nudge along their scientific paths, but their assertion that it was formative and their willingness to return as course instructors tell me and our team that we should keep going.
—David Moore, University of Arizona