New knowledge, networks and inspiration in New Orleans

31 August 2018

Claire Farrell and Steve Livesley from the Green Infrastructure Research Group  recently headed to New Orleans with Stefan Arndt and Chris Szota from the University of Melbourne’s School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences.

This was not a holiday, but a chance to present at and listen to other inspiring presentations at the Ecological Society of America Conference. This is an annual conference that covers all aspects of ecology: from marine to alpine, forest, river and urban.

Photo of Claire Farrell, Steve Livesley, Stefan Arndt and Chris Szota at the Ecological Society of America Conference in New Orleans, August 2018.
Claire Farrell, Steve Livesley, Stefan Arndt and Chris Szota at the Ecological Society of America Conference in New Orleans, August 2018.

Claire and Steve hosted an ‘Inspire Session’ consisting of six international researchers talking about their work in a quick 5-minute bite. This was followed by a longer 40-minute discussion about how better plant diversity can be achieved in urban landscapes whilst providing interesting design and form as well as habitat and function – in other words green infrastructure!

We had about 30 Ecological Society of America (ESA) members attend the session and there was a vibrant discussion and lots of interest. As we tell Green Infrastructure Research Group members, conferences are a great opportunity to network, find like-minded researchers in other countries and grow your international profile.

So, following our own advice, after our session we managed to head off to lunch with some of America’s leading urban ecologists: A/Prof Susan Day (Virginia Tech), Prof Diane Pataki (The University of Utah) and Dr Mitchell Pavao-Zuckerman (University of Maryland). Luckily for Steve and Stefan, we had lunch in a great vegetarian salad bar down the road from the venue.

In fact, New Orleans proved to have many great places to eat – and we found an awesome vegan restaurant in one of the neighbouring suburbs, nestled amongst big ‘ol weatherboard houses. Speaking of which – one of the highlights was taking a Paddle Steamer ride along the Big ‘ol Muddy Mississippi.

The river managed to provide a backdrop of thunder and lightning with a tropical storm as we moseyed along listening to a little jazz. We have already started planning our next trip to the ESA Conference in 2020 which will be held in Salt Lake City, Utah. Put it in your diaries, and hopefully we’ll get some of our Master and PhD students to join us next time.