University units collaborate to host Climate and Water Research Slam

Cheryth Youngmann

Contact: cheryth.youngmann@uga.edu

A bearded man crosses his arms in front of a screen.

Great minds don’t necessarily think alike—and our colleagues at the River Basin Center feel that’s valuable.  

That’s why they partnered with The Office of Sustainability and the Georgia Initiative for Climate and Society to host the Climate and Water Research Slam on May 12, 1 to 5 p.m. 

Twenty-two speakers—including lawyers, engineers, ecologists and social scientists—from organizations across the University of Georgia campus gathered to present lightning presentations in their areas of expertise. The event featured talks from students and faculty alike.   

Presenters distilled years of research into bite-sized pieces: Talks lasted five minutes, with time for a handful of questions after each. Topics ranged widely, from melting Antarctic ice sheets to economics and irrigation, to hydrosocial concerns, to the impact of policy on Georgian wetland.

““Personally, I was very excited to see this exchange of ideas between our RBC affiliates, who mainly work in freshwater and coastal systems, with colleagues working on climate-related project in other realms,” said Seth Wenger, director for science at the River Basin Center. He co-facilitated the event alongside Cory Struthers, affiliate at the Georgia Initiative and Tyra Byers, director of the Interdisciplinary Certificate in Sustainability.  

Struthers agreed with Wenger. Collaboration encouraged by interdisciplinary events is not only useful—it’s necessary.

“Cultivating community, including friendship, is so important for fostering intellectual creativity and innovative scholarship on epic challenges like climate change. Events like the Research Slam help us re-energize on these fronts,” she said.

Struthers was hired two years ago at the School of Public and International Affairs. She’s been motivated to work on climate issues and organize climate faculty ever since, and she wanted to host a networking event through the Georgia Initiative.

So she reached out to Byers. When they in turn reached out to Wenger, to ensure that the River Basin Center wasn’t hosting an overlapping event, he let them know the center was optioning a research slam.

“We decided to all join forces,” Struthers explained.

And for the three organizers, climate and water were a natural thematic fit. “That kind of cross-sectional issue space between water and hydrology and climate is so joined together. It would be hard to just study water without talking about climate,” Struthers pointed out.

The venue for the event was the newly renovated Delta Innovation Hub. Presentations were followed by a networking reception for participants to exchange ideas and to brainstorm new collaborations.  

“It was an opportunity to socialize and just get a feel for everybody’s research and personality,” said Struthers.

For those who missed that opportunity, not to worry. The organizers plan to make the research slam a recurring event.