2011 Working Groups

Human Presence in Coastal Ecosystems and Paleoenvironments

Co-Investigators: John M. Marston (Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology), Warren Prell (Geological Sciences), Jon Witman (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology)

DESCRIPTION: This working group will take advantage of existing faculty expertise in coastal ecology, paleoenvironmental studies, and archaeology at Brown to develop new research and teaching collaborations between departments focusing on present and past impacts of human populations on coastal ecosystems. The ultimate goal of this working group is to prepare a 2011 submission to the NSF IGERT program to develop a new interdisciplinary graduate training program between the social, biological, and paleoenvironmental sciences at Brown, the Marine Biological Laboratory, and the URI Graduate School of Oceanography. Proposed working group activities include monthly meetings during the spring semester 2011, culminating in a day-long, on-campus symposium in April or May 2011, featuring two invited keynote speakers (one from social science background, one from a natural science background). Work on the IGERT proposal will continue during the summer for a late-summer or early-fall submission deadline. This working group will support one graduate student during Spring and Summer 2011 to assist in coordinating meetings and the research symposium, and with researching and preparing portions of the IGERT proposal.

JULY 2012 UPDATE: The focus of activity in the 2011-2012 academic year was the planning and execution of a one-day symposium, held at Brown on October 8, 2011, to discuss the structure of existing IGERTs at peer institutions and further evaluate the potential for an IGERT at Brown. Guest speakers included Richard Norris of the University of California San Diego Scripps Institution of Oceanography and 

Maribeth Murray of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Department of Anthropology (see full schedule and summary of workshop below).

The secondary focus of working group efforts was additional comparative research on existing IGERTs to identify key features of successful programs that could be implemented at Brown and URI; graduate student research associate Jeff Salacup was the primary researcher on this activity and created an electronic database of information on seven peer programs..

Another outcome was a new interdisciplinary seminar was developed and taught by Marston during the Fall semester of 2011, entitled “The Archaeology and Paleoecology of Coastal and Island Environments” (listed as Archaeology 2255). The course was originally designed for graduate students but enrolled six undergraduate students with backgrounds in archaeology and environmental sciences (see attached syllabi for initial graduate class and for class as taught).

The Archaeology and Paleoecology of Coastal and Island Environments http://www.brown.edu/Courses/uploads/ARCH:2255:2011-Fall:S01.pdf.

Full Report on Human Presence in Coastal Ecosystems and Paleoenvironments working group.

Statistical Methods for the Natural and Social Environmental Sciences

INVESTIGATORS: Erika Sudderth (EEB/ECI), Timmons Roberts, CES and Sociology), Meredith Hastings (Geology), Jon Witman (EEB), Sheila Walsh, ECI post-doc (EEB and Economics), James Hull, ECI post-doc (Population Studies and Training Center), Mac Marston, post-doc (Joukowsky Institute)

DESCRIPTION: The aim of the proposed working group is to bring together researchers from the natural and social sciences to discuss statistical approaches used in the respective fields. Understanding the data and analysis requirements of different research fields is essential for productive interdisciplinary collaboration. We will develop online tutorials for the most relevant statistical topics that will be made available to researchers at Brown.

We will also develop a new course on statistical methods for the natural and social environmental sciences, to provide students with training in the analytical approaches used in both disciplines. There is not currently a statistics course taught at Brown that integrates the statistical methods used in natural and social environmental science research. The products of the proposed working group will make statistical methods used in environmental research more accessible to the Brown community.


ENVS1100: Statistical Methods for the Natural and Social Environmental Sciences, was offered in Spring 2012 semester. 30 students participated.