[Coral-List] Reflections on ICRS 11

Lescinsky, Halard L HLescinsky at otterbein.edu
Thu Aug 7 07:39:55 EDT 2008

Dear Coral-list:

	I've been listening in surprise at the critiques of ICRS 11.  I
thought it was a fine meeting.  The only real flaws that I saw were the
organization of the schedule booklet and the fact that the poster
sessions should have begun, not ended, when the beer started flowing.
Other than that, I think other comments are mere quibbles.  Overall,  I
think most attendees would agree that the meeting was well organized and
extremely valuable.
	Recent postings that advocate  atomizing the next ICRS by
specialties or geographic regions, or most egregiously into a series of
You-tube videos, are severely misguided.  As I see it there are 4 main
purposes to this type of meeting:  1. learning the latest happenings in
your subfield (the unpublished stuff- we probably already know the
published stuff), 2. catching up on all the auxiliary stuff in the areas
where  we don't specifically work, but that are still part of the big
picture,  3. networking (making personal contact with colleagues), and
4.  spontaneous talk, cross pollination and stimulation from
serendipitous and inter-area thinking.  Separate meetings organized by
topic or region would eliminate most of 2, 3, and 4.  Virtual meetings
would also kill 2,3 and 4, not to mention that realistically no one
would take a week off from the their busy schedule to watch reef videos,
no matter how timely and insightful they were.   Staying current in our
subfields (purpose 1) already occurs at the many reef "theme sessions"
held at the various disciplinary conferences in various geographic
areas.  While I understand the concerns of expense and carbon footprint,
every 4 years really isn't all that often.
	I'll also admit that I was not as bereaved as others for
attending mini-plenary talks given by the big-wigs who reviewed the
magnum opus of their lab's output including (God forbid) their
previously published work.  Plenary talks have, thus far, been given
unanimous support precisely because they review large bodies of
information for the not-quite-in-that-field reef workers.  I see no
reason to view the magnum opus talks as categorically different.  What's
wrong with a mix of "brand-spanking-new" and "cumulative" talks.  The
cumulative talks give grad students and those with "big picture"
curiosities an inroad into other subtopics, when their
symposium-of-particular-interest is not in session.  Isn't this one of
the major values of a holistic reef conference.  In any case, the mix of
talks was really not any different from other conferences I have
	If there is one lesson that attendees should have learned from
ICRS11 it was that in order to understand reefs and their future, we
need to integrate a host of disciplines from water chemistry and climate
science to waves and weather to molecular pathways and genomics.  It
should be apparent that now would be a particularly inappropriate time
to start divvying our formerly quadrennial holistic reef meeting into a
series of separate bins.

Hal Lescinsky
Otterbein College, Westerville OH

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