Congratulations to Kathleen Weathers, Cary Institute Senior Scientist and G. Evelyn Hutchinson Chair in Ecology, for receiving the Ecological Society of America's Odum Award for Excellence in Ecology Education. The honor recognizes outstanding efforts to relate basic ecological principles to human affairs through teaching, outreach, and mentoring.
For more than a decade, Weathers has been dedicated to advancing bottom-up network science. This includes creating training opportunities for graduate students and tools for citizen science engagement. Her efforts strive to equip the next generation of ecologists and managers with the skills needed to protect freshwater resources.
She played a guiding role in the formation of the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON), and currently acts as co-Chair. The international grassroots collaboration of more than 600 scientists, educators, decision makers, and citizens uses high-resolution sensor data to understand, predict, and communicate the role and response of lakes in a changing global environment. Sensors have been deployed in more than 120 lakes around the world.
As part of GLEON, Weathers helped develop Lake Observer, a crowd-sourcing App that streamlines the way that researchers and citizen scientists record water quality observations in lakes, rivers, and streams. By submitting geo-referenced data to online repositories, Lake Observer facilitates the collection and sharing of information. The App was featured at the 2016 White House Climate Data Initiative and White House Open Source Data events.
Weathers has made it a priority to mentor students and early-career scientists participating in GLEON, with an eye toward diversity, inclusion, and instruction. She helped empower GLEON’s student association, which contributes meaningfully to governance and training within the broader network. She also spearheaded the development of the GLEON Fellows Program, a two-year graduate immersion in data analysis, international collaboration, effective communication, and team science.
The GLEON Fellows Program has emerged as a model for training initiatives in macrosystem ecology, and will affect the ecological community positively for decades to come, as participants carry their training forward to other institutions and endeavors.