Here comes 2019

Adiós 2018

While good things can be found just about anywhere when you know how to look (like here and  here and here and here and here), positivity was getting hard to find as the year that was 2018 slowly dragged itself to a burned and exhausted conclusion. The past four months saw challenges a plenty.

While I don’t want to dwell on last semester, it is important to acknowledge that our campus and state as a whole were buffeted by winds of our own creation and from gales arising as far away as Washington D.C. and Asia’s steppes last year.I know how tough it was for many of you budding scientists to see environmental professionals’ too often (disingenuously and erroneously) cast as villains while too few of our fellow citizens seemed to explore the drivers (e.g. here or here or here or here) of our now-predictable fall firestorm season, oversimplifying and obfuscating the real issues. Even more disappointingly, some of our leaders opted to leave reality and attribute wildfireblamesolely on fantasized wildland policies, threaten to cut off disaster funding for fire victims, and egg-on a quickly-gathering storm of litigation threatening to topple our utilities near and far (regardless of unintendedconsequences).  Add to that the normalization of gun violence that repeatedly struck CSUCI and polarization to the point where our leaders can’t even agree to keep the federal government working. These assaults conspired to make the Fall 2018 semester the most difficult in our history.

Welcome 2019!

While things were clearly dark last year, ESRM is on track for better things as this semester opens.  Don’t let our longest federal government shutdown in history fool you. It will be over soon, paving the way for our classes and capstoners to return to our Santa Rosa Island Research Station and our federal partners to return your emails (wait…Dr. A is talking about returning emails???).

We have a bunch of new opportunities for you from Woolsey Fire monitoring to internships to our next Drone Data Race.  Please come by the office hours of any of your faculty to chat about upcoming opportunities (Dr. A’s ESRM Program Advising Hours are Tuesdays 10:30 to 11:30).

A Few Key Dates

New Faces

The most conspicuous change to ESRM this semester will be our expanded number of faculty gracing our classrooms.  While none of their faces are brand new, we are very happy to welcome back to ESRM a fantastic cadre of educators this spring.

ESRM Program Meeting, January 2019.

  • Dr. Jean Pan ~ ESRM 370: Fundamentals of Remotely Piloted Systems
  • Alan Jaeger ~ ESRM 370: Fundamentals of Remotely Piloted Systems
  • Cynthia Hartley ~ ESRM 428: Intermediate GIS
  • Ben Kuo ~ ESRM 301: Field Professionalism (Wilderness First Aid)
  • Brenton Spies ~ ESRM/BIO 313: Conservation Biology
  • Russell Galipeau ~ ESRM/POLS 341: The National Park
  • Dr. Chris Williamson ~ ESRM/SOC 440: Population Studies
  • Dr. Rachel Cartwright ~ UNIV 391: Ecotourism and Marine Megafauna in Maui

Pick Your Next Professor

The most exciting opportunity coming down the pike is the opportunity for you to help us pick our next tenure track faculty member.  In late February and early March, we will be hosting a series of campus visits by our finalists for our Coastal Data Artist ESRM Faculty position.  Watch out for the announcements of their visits which will include the opportunity to:

  1. hear about their research,
  2. partake in a demonstration of their teaching, and
  3. visit with them without your pesky professors in the room.

Seizing this New Year

It helps to remember that new things are coming and inspiration is everywhere.  A few quick thoughts as we start our semester…

Cruising 99 by Garrett Hongo

Part I: A Porphyry of Elements

(see the full poem here)
Starting in a long swale between the Sierras
   and the Coast Range,
Starting from ancient tidepools of a Pleistocene sea,
Starting from exposed granite bedrock,
From sandstone and shale, glaciated, river-worn,
   and scuffed by wind,
Tired of the extremes of temperature,
   the weather’s wantonness,
Starting from the survey of a condor’s eye
Cutting circles in the sky over Tehachapi and Tejon,
Starting from lava flow and snow on Shasta,
   a head of white hair,
   a garland of tongue-shaped obsidian,
Starting from the death of the last grizzly,
The final conversion of Tulare County
   to the internal-combustion engine,
Staring from California oak and acorn,
   scrubgrass, rivermist,
   and lupine in the foothills,
From days driving through the outfield clover
   of Modesto in a borrowed Buick,
From nights drinking pitchers of dark
   in the Neon Moon Bar & Grill,
From mornings grabbing a lunchpail, work gloves,
   and a pisspot hat,
From Digger pine and Douglas fir and aspen around Placerville,
From snowmelt streams slithering into the San Joaquin,
From the deltas and levees and floods of the Sacramento,
From fall runs of shad, steelhead, and salmon,
From a gathering of sand, rock, gypsum, clay,
   limestone, water, and tar,
From a need or desire to throw your money away
   in The Big City,
From a melting of history and space in the crucible
   of an oil-stained hand—
Starting from all these, this porphyry of elements,
   this aggregate of experiences
Fused like feldspar and quartz to the azure stone
   of memory and vision,
Starting from all of these and an affectionate eye
   for straight, unending lines,
We hit this old road of Highway Ninety-Nine!

Negate the Hate

Dr. King at Berlin Wall. Image: National Archive.

Finally, on this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day when Dr. King would have been 90 years old, it is helpful to remember that he spoke to some of the very same debates roiling our country this January.  And while many seem anxious to misappropriate his words, he always spoke to our better angels.  Indeed, in September of 1964 Dr. King addressed East Berlin from Sophia Church, speaking to divisions both physical and symbolic.  As Time noted last week, he observed:

“It is indeed an honor to be in this city, which stands as a symbol of the divisions of men on the face of the earth,” he told East Berliners. “For here on either side of the wall are God’s children and no man-made barrier can obliterate that fact. Whether it be East or West, men and women search for meaning, hope for fulfillment, yearn for faith in something beyond themselves, and cry desperately for love and community to support them in this pilgrim journey.”

He talked about the similarities shared by the clash between African Americans and white people in the United States and that between communism and democracy in Berlin, which he described as “the hub around which turns the wheel of history.” Just as America is “proving to be the testing ground of races living together in spite of their differences: you are testing the possibility of co-existence for the two ideologies which now compete for world dominance,” he said. Quoting Ephesians, he spoke of his assumption that “wherever reconciliation is taking place, wherever men are ‘breaking down the dividing walls of hostility’ which separate them from their brothers, there Christ continues to perform his ministry of reconciliation.”

Be good everyone.  Study hard.  Stand together.  Extend a hand.  Save the world.  Ready, set, go.

-Dr. A

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