PalEON Berkeley Workshop 2012 – Update

This is the one year anniversary of the blog (give or take a week), so this post is going to be a bit of looking back, and looking forward. It’s also about AGU, but since it’s only in passing, here is a link to RealClimate with a list of good climate related sessions.

Network model of the PalEON team.
Figure 1. The network that makes PalEON work. Blue points represent the PIs, linking the vegetation modellers (at the top of the figure), to paleoecologists and statisticians that make up the rest of the team. This was the structure of the team about a year ago.

We had a great day in Berkeley today. Lots of work to get done, but it’s amazing how far we have come collectively since our meeting a year ago in Chicago. The PalEON team has enlarged again, and there’s lots of new faces at the workshop. New post-docs, new collaborators, and a few visitors, dipping their feet into the PalEON waters. Along with Jason McLachlan, Mike Dietze, Steve Jackson, Jack Williams and Chris Paciorek, we’ve added new PIs, Dave Moore, Mevin Hooten, Phil Higuera, Neil Pederson and Jenn Marlon.

My settlement vegetation work, with many fantastic collaborators, has come a long way, and we’re going to have a great poster at AGU (PP21B-2012, go visit Jack on Tuesday morning, the AGU poster is here). The PalEON workshop has been great, we are figuring our way through some very complex problems, across very different disciplinary vocabulary. From a paleoecological perspective we find ourselves having to deal with issues that we’ve known were disciplinary problems (how do we really deal with age-model uncertainty across cores?) but have, by and large, successfully avoided confronting directly in synthesis work.

The modelling aspect of the analysis is moving along as well. Bjorn Brooks is presenting a posterThursday morning (B41C-0299). You can see from Figure 1 that when we started, the modellers (at the top of the figure) were much less integrated with respect to the rest of the team. If we were to redo this network diagram now I suspect that we’d much greater integration of the core PalEON group, and that would be reflected in the thinking of the team as well.

So, a year ago I started this blog at AGU, listening to James Brown and trying to put together Public Land Survey System data from Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. I haven’t got a lot of traffic (almost 9000 hits), but it has given me an opportunity to explore ideas that didn’t really fit anywhere else, and it’s given me an opportunity to share the work of others with a wider audience. Of course, the number one reason people arrive at this blog remains a Google image search for ‘Transparent trollface‘, although my mom’s painting of one of my thesis figures has received the most hits.

A baby and a bike
Figure 2. Some things to look forward to in the new year.

So it must be onward and upward, with PalEON, with the blog, and with life. There’s lots more work to be done on the project, I’ve got some new ideas that I’m working on with Jack, and with other collaborators, so hopefully there’ll be a post soon about that. I’ve got a skating rink set up in the backyard waiting for the winter to set in, and I’ve got a new (used) road bike in the garage waiting for the spring (Figure 2)!


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Assistant scientist in the Department of Geography at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Studying paleoecology and the challenges of large data synthesis.

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