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President's Environment: Celebrating Service

Wednesday, November 8, 2023
Sherri Johnson

Dear Colleagues,

Society for Freshwater Science has so many wonderful members! Thank you to all who volunteer in numerous capacities, from chairing and serving on SFS committees, mentoring students and early career scientists, writing grants to further inclusion in SFS, organizing regional chapter meetings, and serving in elected offices. These efforts are keeping SFS a vibrant and welcoming place and making a difference in opportunities for long-term members as well as newer student members. We would like to thank outgoing committee members for their contributions and thank incoming and continuing committee members and SFS and chapter officers for all their efforts and energy.

As part of our fall calendar, this is the time to recognize individuals who are leading efforts and implementing new ideas. The current issue of our newsletter provides links for you to nominate a colleague, mentor, or mentee for one of the career awards. These awards are directed towards a range of career stages and types of contributions, and we hope you will take the time to celebrate those who make our society and science better through submitting one or more nominations.

Many of our Society members are committed to expanding our community of SFS members with identities historically underrepresented in freshwater science. The Instars Program has been introducing new students to opportunities in aquatic science through our meetings since 2011. Through substantial commitment from SFS members and a small amount of financial support from SFS, the Instars Program has graduated more than 130 students. Our newsletter announces application opportunities for this year’s cohort, who will have the opportunity to participate in the annual SFS meeting in Philadelphia in June 2024. Through the leadership of Checo Colon-Gaud, SFS and other aquatic societies are reaching out broadly through an exhibitor booth at the annual SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science) Conference, which is happening this week.

We are lucky to have SFS members writing grants and devoting time and resources to create opportunities for even broader support of diverse early career scientists. The Emerge Program, funded by an NSF grant, involves selected students in activities and exploration over the course of a year. Applications are opening soon for the 4th cohort. The SFS Headwaters Leadership Academy is another wonderful opportunity that convenes early career scientists for discourse about skills for successful professionals, and matches them with mentors for additional discussions. Several additional SFS-relevant grants have been funded recently by NSF through the BIO-LEAPS program; these are designed to explore and implement ways for our aquatic societies to become more inclusive in their structure and in meetings. 

Many of us find ourselves prioritizing SFS meetings because we know they are supportive and engaging conferences for students and early career scientists. SFS Council for Underrepresented Voices (CUV) is helping increase awareness by providing a forum for members to convene and provide input and perspectives on SFS operations and initiatives. Nominations are now open for new members of this Council; this newsletter issue provides more information. In addition to Instars and Emerge participating in our meetings, SFS member support provides undergraduate travel awards and graduate endowment/other awards each year, further supporting the accessibility of our conferences and the unique support we offer our student members. 

If you are interested in any of these opportunities, please contact us and we can connect you with the SFS folks who are leading these programs.

With warm regards,

Sherri Johnson, SFS President 2023–24