WORKSHOP I: A ROADMAP TO THE DE NOVO ASSEMBLY OF MAMMALIAN GENOMES
Instructors: Andreas Chavez and Stefan Prost
Whole-genome based analyses are becoming more important in biological research, be it in an evolutionary, medical, as well as in conservation biology. Genome assembly, usually the first step in genomic analyses, is a fast-developing area of research. The rapid growth in assembly approaches has also made it difficult to stay current with emerging approaches, especially for new researchers to the field. Furthermore, assemblies for mammalian taxa require special considerations both in lab preparation and bioinformatically. Our workshop is targeted for both researchers with either little or an advanced background knowledge of the topic. This workshop will function as a roadmap that will guide researchers from designing projects to a “final” genome assembly, with some brief discussions on downstream analyses. We will start with basics, such as lab preparation methods, different sequencing technologies, and how to decide on which sequencing platform to choose. Then we will outline the steps needed to process raw sequencing data, as well as the different assembly and assembly quality assessment methods. To make it more user-friendly, we will discuss popular tools applied in the different steps to help researchers to decide on which to use. We believe this workshop is timely for mammalogists that are interested in any kind of genomic application because the costs and ease of generating high-quality reference genomes has dropped dramatically in the past few years, while more and more biologists, not just geneticists, are generating genome-wide data that can be enhanced with good reference genomes. Organizers: Andreas Chavez and Stefan Prost.
WORKSHOP II: CONDUCTING A BAT ACOUSTICS RESEARCH PROJECT OR TEACHING A CLASS MODULE
Instructors: Kim Livengood and Chris Corben
Bat acoustics is an interesting and fast-moving field or research. Many researchers use this technique and more university mammalogy programs are including bat acoustics as class modules or independent projects. This workshop is meant to provide an overview of bat acoustics including the techniques, the equipment, understanding deployment, and finally points in analyzing data once collected. Participants will gain a basic knowledge and an understanding of what is required to conduct acoustic monitoring and research.
WORKSHOP III: HACKATHON FOR THE MAMMAL DIVERSITY DATABASE
Instructors: Connor Burgin, Jocelyn Colella, Philip Kahn, and Nathan S. Upham
The Mammal Diversity Database (MDD) is an updatable and online database of mammal taxonomic and biodiversity information hosted by ASM at http://mammaldiversity.org/. It was launched in Feb 2018 with the goal of providing the latest information on species-level and higher taxonomic changes to mammals, and thereby promote rigorous study of mammalian biodiversity worldwide. So far, this online database aims to aggregate, curate, and compile new citations on species descriptions and taxonomic revisions into regular releases that are downloadable in comma-delimited format. Downstream goals include expanded hosting of data on synonyms, type localities, link-outs to Mammalian Species accounts and Mammal Images Library photos, and greater interaction an online forum for discussing mammalian taxonomy. For the proposed ASM 2019 workshop, we aim to host a “hack-a-thon” in the spirit of gathering like-minded biodiversity nerds to help improve the content and interface of the MDD. We are pleased to invite Philip Kahn, our primary web developer on the MDD, to join us for this event to do some real-time hacking on the website. Our plan is to give short introductions to recent progress on the MDD, a tutorial on how to use the website, organize breakout groups for exploring different taxonomic areas of the website, and then hosting a back-and-forth discussion and web development session to improve the MDD. Organizers: Nathan S. Upham and Jocelyn Colella.
WORKSHOP IV: WILDLIFE TELEMETRY TECHNOLOGIES
Instructor: Alex Campos
At different levels Telemetry can allow a minimum invasion to the species and their habitats, while at the same time allows to collect data that is otherwise very difficult or impossible to gather, such as habitat uses, survival rates, home range, domain areas, reproductive and feeding behavior, interactions, and a long etcetera. During the workshop we will learn about the most widely accepted Telemetry techniques for Wildlife research, with emphasis on VHF Radio-tracking and GPS with wireless and satellite data transmission. Associated sensors, scopes and limitations, diagnosing how to select the best option in terms of technology, weight, dimensions and attachment techniques according to the particular species of interest is also included. If conditions allow it, we can include a practice with functional equipment. This is a n extremely useful tool for any researcher who is interested in implementing telemetry equipment for wildlife, it does not matter If the need is immediate, for a future project, or you simply want to be better qualified in case it is ever needed.
WORKSHOP V: #SCICOMM: DEVELOPING STRATEGIES FOR EFFECTIVE & TRUSTWORTHY COMMUNICATION
Instructors: Steven C. Amstrup, Katie Hinde, Roland Kays, and Karen Mabry
Scientific communication and public engagement are not new aspects of biological research; our work means little if we cannot engage and explain it to the general public. Scientists need to be effective communicators and articles and examples abound about the importance of scientific communication (see “Resources” below). A Google search of “Science Communication” results in large numbers of academic (undergraduate and graduate) programs, workshops, journal articles, etc. Everyone is on board with recognizing the importance of public engagement and scientific communication. But how can we actually succeed at communicating our research findings to the public? The variety of platforms scientists can use to engage the general public (e.g., social media such as blogs, Twitter, and Instagram; interviews, public talks, etc.) is overwhelming. Is there a best way to communicate our science? The goal of the workshop is the professional development of needed science communication skills; thus empowering ASM members to share their research to broad and diverse audiences, not just practitioners in related fields. Specifically, we will provide support and training to build communication tools that convey scientific concepts beyond disciplines and improve connection with a variety of audiences in public and professional interactions. Organizers: Jessica E. Light, Sean P. Maher, and Karen Munroe.
WORKSHOP VI: 1-ON- MENTORING WORKSHOP – NETWORKING FOR SUCCESS IN MAMMALOGY
Instructors: Kayce Bell and Corey Welch
Using a student pre-conference questionnaire, we will match undergraduate, graduate, and post-baccalaureate students with individual Mammalogists (PhDs) to develop a strategic plan for their career goals. Selected applicants will get a skills assessment, advising, and develop a plan to reach their academic, research, and professional goals. This session could take place during a lunch break or in the early evening after talks for the day have ended. A selected group of 50-100 students will be matched by career interest with a ASM Mentor to participate in a modified Individualized Development Plan (IDP). Session goals are to: 1) deliver a hands-on, interactive progress assessment of students’ intended career goals and readiness, 2) a skills assessment to identify gaps in training, 3) strategic planning of short-term and long-term goals, and 4) have a broader understanding of the science career pathways. Organizers: Corey Welch and Kayce Bell.
WORKSHOP VII: INCREASING INCLUSIVITY: BIAS AWARENESS IN ACADEMIA
Instructors: PowerPlay Interactive Development, University of New Hampshire
This interactive development and training workshop will use professional actors and applied theatre techniques to facilitate dialogue and promote awareness around the critical issues of diversity and implicit bias. Actor-Improvisers will present prepared scenes based on real-world scenarios after which participants can ask the characters questions about their perspective on the scene. The actor’s then “rewind” the scene and examine in real time how effective alternative strategies might be. The result is a lively, interactive way of learning directed at improving academic interactions for both students and faculty of richly diverse backgrounds. If you have yet to try this form of experiential learning – join us and see for yourself how engaging and effective it can be! And, don’t worry – the actors are the ones who do the emotional heavy lifting, so you can sit back and reflect. Organizers: Becca Rowe and John Hanson.