Human Presence in Coastal Ecosystems and Paleoenvironments

Working Group Summary

Lead PI: John M. Marston (Postdoctoral Fellow, Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and ECI)

Faculty Participants:

Susan Alcock (Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology)

Mark Bertness (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology)

Kristine Bovy (URI Anthropology)

Bridget Buxton (URI History) 

Tracey Dalton (URI Marine Affairs)

Linda Deegan (Marine Biological Laboratory)

Carlos Garcia-Quijano (URI Anthropology)

Tim Herbert (Geological Sciences)

Yongsong Huang (Geological Sciences)

Heather Leslie (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology)

John King (URI Graduate School of Oceanography)

William Krieger (URI Philosophy)

Rod Mather (URI History)

Chris Neill (Marine Biological Laboratory)

Warren Prell (Geological Sciences)

Jim Russell (Geological Sciences)

Dov Sax (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology)

Andrew Scherer (Anthropology)

Rob Thompson (URI Marine Affairs)

Jon Witman (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology)

Postdoctoral and Graduate Student Participants:

Christoph Bachhuber (Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology Postdoc)

Matt Heard (ECI Postdoc)

Jeff Salacup (Geological Sciences Graduate Student)

Leila Sievanen (ECI Postdoc)

Satrio Wicaksono (Geological Sciences Graduate Student)

Summary of Activities, 2010-2011 Academic Year

During the 2010-2011 academic year, the working group met several times to gauge faculty interest in developing a new interdisciplinary graduate training program focusing on coastal and marine environments and the feasibility of funding that proposal with an NSF IGERT grant. Connections were strengthened with URI faculty, including visits to that campus, and with MBL. An internal proposal was produced for Brown’s 2011 IGERT competition. The proposal was not selected as Brown’s submission for an IGERT and the group resolved to continue its activities into 2011-2012 to consider the proposed program again and decide whether a revised submission would be feasible during spring 2012.

Summary of Activities, 2011-2012 Academic Year

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 (see summary below).

Outcomes of Working Group Activities, 2010-2012 Academic Years

Based on the outcome of the symposium and gauging faculty interest in the program going forward, it was evident that no senior Brown faculty member was willing and available at this time to serve as the PI for an NSF IGERT submission to fund this program. Interest at both Brown and URI were considerable but it was decided that without a senior faculty “champion” for the program it would not be possible to produce a successful NSF submission. Continued collaboration between URI and Brown on topics related to this working group, however, may result in an opportunity to develop an IGERT or PIRE program in the future. At that point the results of this working group will be useful for future grant authors.

Although a successful NSF IGERT submission, the primary goal of this working group, was not realized, several positive outcomes resulted from this effort. Connections between the social sciences and natural sciences have been strengthened at Brown, as well as connections between ECI and Brown and URI social science faculty who work on human interaction with coastal environments. Additionally, postdoctoral and graduate student participants gained experience in developing multi-institutional educational programs and in grant writing, while benefiting from financial support from ECI. This group bridged gaps between Brown departments, as well as between Brown, URI, and MBL, and broadened the reach of ECI across academic disciplines.

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).