Friday, May 31, 2013

A time for collaboration and discussion: The Second Annual CI-WATER Symposium

Utah science fair winners present their research at the Symposium

"How do we interact? How do we collaborate and support each other?"

These questions were among the most important asked this week at the Second Annual CI-WATER Symposium. 

With over 40 researchers working at four universities in two different states, the CI-WATER project sometimes feels disjointed. The four teams, Cyberinfrastructure, Data and Modeling Services, Watershed Modeling and Education & Outreach,  work on various parts of the project and use virtual meeting spaces for collaboration. While these virtual spaces are essential for working together from the various universities, the flow of conversation is not quite the same as in face-to-face interactions. 
The Symposium brought together the scattered partners and allowed them much-needed discussion through face time.
Dr. Miriah Meyer talks to an audience at the Symposium
The Symposium, held in Salt Lake City at the Natural History Museum of Utah’s Rio Tinto Center, focused on the idea of modeling a sustainable future. Researchers from the four CI-WATER teams presented their research and work from the last few months including projects that have been completed and where they see the next steps for their work going. Discussions about models, cyberinfrastructure and the digital divide filled the two days. Among these highly technical discussions however, presenters and team leaders returned time and again to the necessity of presenting a more unified front through a concise, clear vision statement.
Dr. Fred Ogden preps for filming

“You never know when you are going to be asked what you are studying,” said Dr. David Tarboton of Utah State University, when stressing the importance of all CI-WATER partners knowing the vision statement. 

By presenting a more unified face, collaborative efforts can be increased and our researchers can work more definitely towards the ultimate goal of the project: helping plan for the future through a better understanding of water systems and water management in the western United States. 

This year’s CI-WATER Symposium was a great success in the conversations it generated among the CI-WATER researchers, the new partnership that formed between team members, the film footage we gathered for videos that will come out later this summer, and the public event featuring Dr. Miriah Meyer. Next week we will share more from Dr. Miriah Meyer’s talk. 

By Kali S. McCrackin 
Photos by Kali S. McCrackin

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