2003 Young Scientists’ Conference

The 2003 START International Young Scientists Global Change Conference, the aims of which were to stimulate competition, encourage excellence, reward outstanding performance, encourage the development of personal and institutional networks, and at the same time indulge in high-level capacity building among young scientists from both developed and developing countries, was hosted by the Third World Academy of Sciences in Trieste, Italy from 17-19 November 2003.

In every way the conference was a resounding success. The endeavor stemmed from the Earth System Science Partnership (ESSP) Open Science Conference on Global Change held in Amsterdam in July 2001, when the ESSP, comprising the IGBP, WCRP, IHDP and DIVERSITAS, asked START to organize a high-level international conference for young scientists 35 years old and younger. An organizing committee comprising three young scientists, Kristy Ross of South Africa, Rita Pongracz of Hungary and Jasper Grosskurth of Holland, together with Professor Roland Fuchs and Amy Freise of START, planned the conference under the Chairmanship of Professor Peter Tyson. The response to the call for papers was extraordinary; over 1000 were received and competition for places was fierce. Selection was based on merit, with political correctness playing no part. Finally, 51 young scientists were selected for 15-minute oral paper presentations and 31 for 2-minute oral poster presentations. The number of women and men presenting was almost equal and the spread between developed and developing countries surprisingly even. The standards of content and presentation were outstanding.

The winner of the Crutzen Award for the Best Paper was Gervasio Piñeiro of University of Buenos Aires for his paper ‘Long term grazing impact on soil carbon and nitrogen pools in South American grasslands’ co-authored by J.M. Paruelo, E.G. Jobbagy, M. Oesterheld and R.B. Jackson. Funding for his conference attendance was by the IAI. Three other papers received Honorable Mention. They were ‘Climate change, biodiversity hotspots and the endangered tree aloe, Aloe Dichotoma (Quiver tree): the genetic status and management of a flagship species’ presented by Jacqueline Bishop of Kirstenbosch Research Center, South Africa, co-authored by G. Reeves, W. Foden, G.F. Midgley and funded by USGCRP; ‘How does the atmosphere cleanse itself: formaldehyde as a pivotal species in atmospheric oxidation pathways’ presented by Katia Riedel of National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, New Zealand, co-authored by William Allan and funded by the International START Secretariat; and ‘Towards regional sustainability: the QSA approach’ presented by Jasper Grosskurth of Maastricht University, and funded by the International START Secretariat.

The award of Best Poster went to Susanne Marquart of DLR Oberpfaffenhofen for her poster ‘Future development of contrail cover, optical depth and radiative forcing: impact on increasing air traffic, alternative fuels, and climate change’ co-authored by M. Ponater, R. Sausen and funded by the International START Secretariat. Three other posters received Honorable Mention. They were ‘Applicability of water poverty index at meso-catchment scale’ presented by Dennis Dlamini of University of Natal, South Africa, co-authored by R.E. Schulze, G.P.W. Jewitt and funded by USGCRP; ’Global change impacts on litter decomposition: experimental manipulation of UVB radiation, biotic activity and soil carbon and nitrogen in Patagonia, Argentina’ presented by Lucia Vivanco of University of Buenos Aires, and funded by IAI; and ‘Tropical forest recovery following human disturbance in central Amazonia: post-pasture forest structure, canopy cover, biomass and nutrient dynamics’ presented by Ted Feldpausch of Cornell University, and co-authored by J. Lehmann, E.C.M. Fernandes, M.A. Rondon, S.J. Riha, E. Wandelli and funded by IAI.

The conference met all its aims, was an outstanding success and generated great enthusiasm and camaraderie. All organizations and institutes involved can be pleased with the distinguished contributions made by young scientists working in fields covered by their interests and activities. START is to be congratulated on one of the most successful capacity building activities it has ever undertaken. The fact that so many young global change scientists from developing countries were able to compete on merit alone for places at the conference is testimony to the success of more than a decade of research-driven capacity building by START, its sponsors and conference partners.

START would like to acknowledge the generous support received from the following sponsors and partners:

We thank all who made the International Young Scientists Global Change Conference possible.



Last Updated on January 8th, 2016

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