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Science Boot Camp West 2014 in Seattle, WA

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by Mahria Lebow
Regional Technology Coordinator
NN/LM Pacific Northwest Region
University of Washington
Seattle, WA

Science Boot Camp West for Librarians, 2014, was held at the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle July 9 – 11. This event was made possible, in part, by an NN/LM PNR Symposium Award. This was the second annual “western” version of Science Boot Camp for Librarians, based on the original Science Boot Camp held each summer in Massachusetts. Ninety-two participants attended the event. This conference is an opportunity for academic librarians to hear about three different fields of science and research processes from the researchers themselves, which helps librarians to better facilitate the research of faculty and students. This year the boot camp meeting planners used a different approach in developing the boot camp curriculum, and decided to find speakers under the umbrella of a common theme, disasters. There were six academic researchers discussing their disaster-related work.

On Wednesday, July 9, University of Washington professors Brian Atwater and David Montgomery spoke on Geology and Geomorphology. Dr. Atwater briefly highlighted some of his research on historic Cascadia quakes and then invited two guest lecturers visiting from Pakistan; Ghazala Naeem, architect and natural-hazards specialist from Islamabad; and Din Mohammad Kakar, earthquake geologist from University of Balochistan, to address their current work. Dr. Montgomery then explained the field of geomorphology to the audience and discussed the recent landslide disaster that occurred in Oso, Washington. Day one came to an end at the UW Club where campers mingled and dined while listening to guest speaker, Seattle Times science reporter Sandi Doughton, discuss her recent book, Full-Rip 9.0: The Next Big Earthquake in the Pacific Northwest. Doughton’s talk was a nice way to close the day as she relied on the work of both of the day’s earlier speakers to write her book, an exposé of the Pacific Northwest’s history of “megaquakes” and what it will mean to have “a big one” in the future.

Thursday, Day 2, kicked off with Jan Newton, Senior Principal Oceanographer, Applied Physics Lab at UW, speaking about ocean acidification. She was followed by Robert Pavia, from the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs at UW, who discussed data collection and analysis during a disaster, looking specifically at the Deep Water Horizon oil spill. Thursday afternoon campers had a choice of attending a four-hour workshop on either Disaster Informatics or Data Librarianship. The warm and sunny Seattle summer weather held up for an evening BBQ and boat ride around Lake Union and Lake Washington. Boot Camp concluded with two health sciences speakers, Randy Beaton, emeritus professor from the Schools of Nursing and Public Health, and David Townes, faculty in the Department of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Beaton addressed issues related to mental health in disaster situations, including how to better study first responders. Dr. Townes discussed how policy, politics, and emergency medicine come together when responding to global disasters, examining the current war in Syria in particular.

To get a broader perspective on the event from some of the attendees themselves, a round-up of the tweets from Science Boot Camp West 2014 is available on Storify; and pictures on instagramVideos of the presentations are available on the conference web site.

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