Posted by: Jeremy Fox | August 9, 2011

Blogging the ESA: Sunday and Monday highlights

The highlight of Sunday was the big party out at Mathew Leibold’s ranch, “Rancho Relaxo”. Mathew invited a whole bunch of his friends out to his place for an evening of eating, drinking, conversation, and sweating (OMG it’s hot here!) It occurred to me that this is what Thomas Henry Huxley’s old X Club dinners must’ve been like, except that instead of plotting how to take over all of science we just drank beer and gossiped.

The beer list at the Ginger Man pub is also a highlight. I had a drink there on Sunday and I can’t wait to go back. Lengthy draft list, including an excellent Flemish sour ale (!) It’s a couple of blocks west of the convention center, at 3rd St. and Laval.

Monday highlights:

Sleeping in. I was shot, having got up at 4 am to fly here, so I slept in and skipped the morning awards ceremony. Sorry Steve Pacala!

Oscar Godoy (highlighted in my preview post) was excellent, though he made the probably-necessary decision to skim over the details of how he parameterized the model he used to infer the strength of stabilizing and equalizing coexistence mechanisms.

My fellow Oikos editor Stefano Allesina was good too, although folks of a more empirical bent would probably question the relevance of his model to natural systems. I was ok with that; theory has a life of its own, independent of empirical data.

Monday lowlights:

Man, the convention center is spread out. Talks on the third floor are on the opposite side of the building from talks on the fourth floor, so that it’s not feasible to see consecutive talks on different floors. I think it attendance for talks on the third floor–some very popular talks were on the fourth floor, and once folks were on the fourth floor they decided to stay there rather than hike over to the third floor.

Scheduling conflicts. An inevitability at the ESA, but especially bad on Monday (at least for folks like me; maybe folks who work on very different things were thrilled with the schedule on Monday). I had to miss several talks I hear were very good (Matt Helmus, Marc Cadotte, others). I’m sure scheduling the meeting is very difficult, but scheduling two sessions on biodiversity-ecosystem function opposite one another was a strange decision which a lot of folks found frustrating.

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