This last fall I was honored to be selected as a member on the Living with a Star Targeted Research and Technology (LWS TR&T) steering committee. Originally I had thought that it was too early in my career to even think about applying, but I had encouragement from some... The "send in your application in asap" type of encouragement, but encouragement none the less. I have been thrown into the deep end of the pool, but thankfully my mother put me in swimming lessons when I was 6 months old. Okay, so what I learned in those swimming lessons probably isn't helping me here, but many of her other lessons are.
That said it's been incredible and so cool to see the inner workings of this group. I think we have a fantastic panel this year. We worked incredibly well together during our first meeting and I look forward to seeing everyone again at the second. During our first meeting we discussed the need to become more transparent and have more community involvement. We need community involvement! The only way this process will work and help push the best science forward is through community involvement! If you aren't sure if you are part of the community, if you are "just" a young scientist and wonder who will care what you think (I care!), if you are "too busy" and it will take too long*, if you think that we won't listen because you feel that your voice hasn't been heard in the past, PLEASE, think again. You are not too young to have your voice and ideas heard! You may not be too busy (skip the next two paragraphs if you are). I promise it doesn't have to take too long and it will be worth it! Your voice will be heard by me and the other committee members!
This year the process for choosing science topics is a bit different. We're in Stage 1 of the process right now. We're looking for community input to the science topics. The deadline is April 26th 2016. This can seem like the most intensive step but I promise it's only as intensive as you want it to be. Before I start, If you are one who falls into the too busy category remember, you can submit without filling in all the steps (just put N/A or something in the box). Now I don't suggest this approach as incomplete information won't necessarily convey to the committee or others what science topics you think are important, but something is always better than nothing! Also, if you don't have time to write your own, comment on the topics proposed by others (a new feature this year)! Let us know what you think looks good and what doesn't (Skip the next paragraph if you only want/have time to comment).
Now that you've decided to become involved, 1) Go to this website . 2) Put in your name. This step is only for the moderators to make sure it's a real person and not a bot. When your proposed topic is put on the web to be commented on (see next paragraph) your name will not appear with it. 3) Select the LWS strategic science area (SSA) to be addressed. 4) Select the types of possible investigations that could be used to answer the question. 5) Come up with a topic title. 6) Describe the topic; it can be as long or as short as you like. That said, the more complete and formal the topic description is, the more likely we, the committee, and others will understand exactly what you were thinking and proposing. 7) List the potential impact relating to the SSA goals. 8) State why this topic is important to fund/study now. 9) State what knowledge gaps this topic should fill. 10) Push submit. Congratulations! You have now submitted your suggestion(s) for the science topics! On to commenting on others (or responding to comments on yours) This is where you can become much more engaged than in the past!
More community involvement in Stage 3! Now for the fun part I think, but ask me again after we finish this step. We hope to be able to put our draft science topics up for comments and questions. We want to have Stage 2 done prior to GEM, CEDAR, SHINE, and other summer conferences so that we can present our findings to as much of the heliospheric community in person and online as possible and hear your response. Do you think we've missed something big? Should this one be rewritten for clarity? Are we way off base? Or hopefully - Don't you just love our draft science topics because we've done such a great job? We're putting ourselves out there. We want to make sure that the community agrees with our findings. Well, agrees as much as possible as any group of scientists can agree. Herding cats comes to mind... But the point is; Make sure to have your voice heard! Let us know what you think, ask questions, give suggestions.
Perhaps one of the funniest commercials ever. Herding cats is hilarious.
Stage 4 - The LWS TR&T committee will get back together to finalize our report.
If you have ideas on how we can improve upon this process, If you have questions about this process, let me know or contact another of the steering committee members. Find us at conferences, give us a call, send us an e-mail, find us on Facebook (well those of us on Facebook)! Have a comment that's only 140 characters long? Tweet me! Become involved! The field will be better because of you! Keep an eye out too for more ways to communicate and be involved.
Now stop reading, and start proposing your ideas! Or, perhaps more fitting to my midwest background, as Garrison Keillor would say:
"Be well, do good work, and keep in touch."