About 10 years ago, Prof. Dan Yakir gathered a few graduate students to deliberate on ways to promote informal student discussions and an exchange of ideas among themselves on environmental issues. This brain-storming session led to the idea of CARESS – the first nationwide environmental science student conference.
This conference, now an established tradition, is held every two years at the Department of Environmental Sciences and Energy Research of the Weizmann Institute. The Seventh Conference on Active Research by Environmental Sciences Students recently took place there.
The year 2009 is an important one for the environment. Of particular relevance is the United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Copenhagen, Denmark, which will be setting a framework for climate change mitigation beyond 2012. To this end, the organizing committee, including Maxime Gouet-Kaplan, Leehee Laronne Ben Itzhak, Hilla Afargan and Amir Tal, decided to put the emphasis of this year’s conference on atmospheric sciences.
Throughout the day, graduate and postdoctoral students presented lectures and posters on their research findings on topics ranging from renewable energy to contamination, land use, nature conservation, air pollution, oceanography and more.
As Karin Ardon of Tel Aviv University explained, “Because this conference is organized by students for students, we are exposed to a friendlier and less intimidating atmosphere in which to present our research.”
“It’s also a good exercise in explaining research and receiving critical feedback from students before handing in our final work to our professors,” said Amit Tubi of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
For Roy Yaniv of Tel Aviv University, CARESS provides an accessible and convenient setting in which to meet with like-minded environmental research scientists, considering that most conferences are held abroad.
“It is also the only chance we get to learn what fellow students are researching and, therefore, it can help provide opportunities to forge collaborations between students in other labs,” added Shimrit Maman of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
Opening the conference was Prof. Dan Yakir, head of the Department of Environmental Sciences and Energy Research, as well as two guest speakers: Dr. Alon Tal, director of the Policy Center, Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, Israel, who spoke about environmentalism, conservation and science; and Prof. Eli Tziperman of Harvard University, who presented research on past climate dynamics.
The event was supported by the Sussman Family Center for the Study of Environmental Sciences and the Maurice and Gabriela Goldschleger Conference Foundation.