2013 Fellows: What We’re Thankful For


Ben Ra’anan, M.S. student at Moss landing Marine Laboratories, San Jose State University, presenting his first stab at his thesis research message box during a lab meeting this fall.

Note from Pam: In the spirt of the holidays, I asked our 2013 fellows what they were thankful for from their Leopold experience — a tool or skill from their core training, an insight that has stuck, a new time-saving practice, or anything else that has stood out. Erika McPhee-Shaw starts off the conversation here.

The Leopold training helps me every single day and it would be hard to overstate how thankful I am for all that you have given us. One of the most important insights I have carried with me since the summer training is the newly clear understanding that networking is the very best way to solve many problems. I am a natural networker, one of those types who likes talking to other people and making connections. But as a scientist coming from a physics/engineering academic home, I have always felt a bit of pressure against working as a “networker.” Instead, I often felt that the only valued approach to problem solving was elegant theoretical work. The brilliant-mathematician-toiling-alone-in-a-closed-room type concept. This summer’s Leopold training shattered that wacky notion completely and gave me the confidence to know I am doing it just right by sitting down to map a network and get on the phone!

The message box training has also been incredibly valuable, and it is something I have been using throughout this semester with my own graduate students. Each student must write a proposal for their MS thesis research, and I have been working with our lab group to have each student write out the message box for their thesis ideas. This is an exciting time for them to do this exercise because they are only in the initial stages of their research. This work clarifies their goals, and I have been so proud to hear them explain their work to visiting scientists or other professors — they do such a great job and are so confident that their science is valuable and useful.

Erika McPhee-Shaw, a coastal geographer, is an Associate Professor at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, San Jose State University and a 2013 Leopold Leadership Fellow.

8 thoughts on “2013 Fellows: What We’re Thankful For

  1. Great insights Erika- thank you!

    What am I thankful for from my Leopold experience?

    I am thankful for so many ways in which the Leopold Program has challenged and inspired me in 2013. I have tried out new and “outside the box” tools to reinvigorate my teaching, engaged new partners in order improve the translation of my science, and been continually inspired by the accomplishments and passion demonstrated by my LLP13 cohort.

    Looking forward to 2014 with a renewed energy for change!

  2. I’m most thankful for the opportunity to get to know such an amazing group of fellows! It’s been a great experience not only to interact with our 2013 cohort, but also to network with the larger group of Leopold fellows both virtually and in person. Looking forward to continuing the conversation!

  3. Thank you Erika- you really have captured much of what I feel and continue to feel. I echo too what Jen has to say about being inspired by the passion and accomplishments of our 2013 LLP cohort as well as all of those who proceeded us.

    My thanksgiving….I am thankful to all that the LLP program encompasses and for the inspiration, motivation, and support that this experience has afforded me at this pivotal time in my career. It has given me the courage to make a switch- to challenge the comfort of my traditional academic home (well put Erika) and stretch its boundaries and bring me closer to my end career goal of really engaging ‘people’ in the discussion and solutions to water resource sustainability. I almost feel like a kid in a candy shop- hopeful -like when I started out at 18 with my ‘rose colored’ glasses when I believed that, together with others, I might actually be able to effect a positive change for the environment. I am energized and excited to see what the next year brings and so looking forward to continued interactions with my LLP cohort and the LLP program as a whole. Thank you!

  4. Very inspiring, Erika! I’m also thankful for the connection to the Leopold Fellows community – the trainers, my cohort, and previous cohorts. It’s an honor to be a part of this brilliant and passionate group. Here’s to a future where environmental science and more depth dialog between environmental scientists, business leaders, managers, policymakers and the public leads to a more sustainable, prosperous, and beautiful world for all.

  5. I too am very thankful for having been given the opportunity to meet and get to know so many fabulous scientists and creative thinkers! And thank you LLP for asking me to read the book Switch. I apply the concepts from that book to many, many facets in my life; especially the “shrink the change” gem of wisdom. One very personal example: Switch is helping my 77 year old mother quit smoking! She’s been smoking for over 50 years, without a break. We’ve been talking about it a lot (she lives with us through the winter — smoking on the back porch through rain, sleet and snow) and she was open to reading Switch. She is down to 4 or fewer cigarettes a day now! She is cutting back with little steps and its working. She feels good about meeting her goals and then is encouraged to try one more “small step”! Thank you Switch and thank you LLP!!

    Lastly, at this time of giving thanks, I hope you will allow me to share with you a tale that was passed on to me today. I found it to be very touching and hope to keep it with me throughout the year. I hope you will too.

    Two Wolves

    One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, ‘My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all.

    One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

    The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.’

    The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: ‘Which wolf wins?’

    The old Cherokee simply replied, ‘The one you feed.’

    Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

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