Wildlife Institute of India-ENVIS centre on Wildlife & Protected Areas collaborated with Indian Polar Research Network (APECS-India) to celebrate the Antarctica Day and the upcoming International Mountain Day by hosting ICECAPS 2016 (Improving Communication Effectiveness and Capacity Addition in Polar Science), a science communication workshop for early career researchers and graduate students. The workshop was attended by about 50 participants from biology, geology, and environmental science disciplines. The resource persons included experts working in the polar regions of the world especially from the Himalayas.
The theme of the workshop was providing orientation to the young minds towards a successful career in Polar Science and to equip them with key communication skills. This platform was also utilized to create awareness about the Madrid Protocol which is in its 25th year of coming into force and the Antarctic Treaty system. Sessions on protected area concept in Polar Regions were conducted in line with the agenda of the workshop to highlight the role of existing international conventions and protocols in the poles. These sessions also underlined the challenges faced by biodiversity conservation efforts in the Polar Regions and the need of sustained scientific data collection and publishing in achieving these goals.
First day into the workshop, the participants were introduced to the importance of communication in the day to day life of a researcher. The participants were given tips on writing emails to a potential research supervisor or an adviser, creating professional resumes and developing networking skills during professional gatherings. Participants were also exposed to effective presentation skills that would help them in getting noticed in a science conference. Interactive hands-on sessions on identifying appropriate funding agency, grant writing process and the process of developing a research proposal were conducted. Lastly, the participants were introduced to the document preparation system Latex for creating large documents with basic hands-on practice.
Day two of the workshop was initiated with a field session on the plants of the Himalayan foothill campus of Wildlife Institute of India. Participants were taken around the nature trail to learn about the adaptive features of the plants and were also brought in close encounter with migratory and resident species of the campus. Later, an exhaustive session on the open source software R was conducted to initiate them into the world of ecological analysis. This session familiarized participants with basic working and simple statistical analyses with R. In the end, students were taught the concepts of effective sampling design, choosing variables in a study, determining the sample sizes, and experimental vs. mensurative approach.
Sixty percent of the applicants of the workshop were M.Sc. students, 27.5 % were PhD students while the rest were early career researchers with less than 5 years to complete their PhDs. Around 60% of the students were already working in the Polar Regions and the rest intending to do so in their future career. More than 75% participants also signed up for IPRN’s membership to keep them in touch with the happenings in the polar world.