As a native Kentuckian, and Program Chair of the 2019 Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting, I want to welcome you to the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the city of Louisville. This city lies at geographic and cultural intersections that create a rich backdrop for what is a truly amazing program. Louisville is situated in the Outer Bluegrass physiographic region and was founded at the Falls of the Ohio River. The human history of the region stretches back at least 11,000 years and includes a sequence of Native American civilizations. These peoples founded rich and complex cultures and, at the time of earliest contact with Europeans (~1660s), those reported living near the Falls included Honniasontkeronons, Chiouanons, Outagame, Iskoussogos and Touguenhas. Contact with Europeans began a period of chaos and bloodshed for Native American peoples due to European-origin diseases and Euro-American military conquest. The city of Louisville was formally founded in 1778 making it one of the earliest Euro-American cities east of the Appalachian Mountains. Since its founding, Louisville has been an important and unique hub for commerce and culture in the region. Celebrating the 20th year since passing its fairness ordinance, and with a perfect score from the Human Rights Campaign, I hope that you find Louisville intriguing, welcoming, and fun.
This year’s theme is Bridging Communities and Ecosystems: Inclusion as an Ecological Imperative. Expanding inclusivity is an urgent objective of the Ecological Society of America. It is imperative that we provide a supportive framework for advancing individuals who bring the diversities of perspectives needed to address the complex challenges facing the science of ecology. The Society has invested in a series of initiatives that seek to create opportunities and diversify both the membership and meeting. These efforts include the SEEDs program, the Extending the Tent initiative, and a variety of other efforts. The Program Committee and ESA Governing Board are both dedicated to increasing inclusion at the Annual Meeting and to broadening participation in the Society and we will enforce our meeting Code of Conduct. At this year’s meeting, we have an excellent set of workshops and special sessions, many of which provide state-of-the-art training on issues related to inclusion. I hope you will attend some of these sessions. Finally, this year’s meeting is being held in conjunction with the United States Society for Ecological Economics (USSEE) which I hope provides exciting opportunities for bridging science and application and for the establishment of fresh dialog and new collaborations.
I am particularly proud of the slate of Plenary presentations at this year’s meeting. The Opening Plenary will be on Sunday night by Karen M. Warkentin from Boston University whose talk will be titled All the variations matter: bridging disciplines and communities to study diversity in life history and sexual behavior. The Scientific Plenary on Monday morning will be Resilience, recovery and the ecology of change by Katharine Suding from the University of Colorado, Boulder. The New Phytologist Trust Keynote Speaker is Diane Pataki from the University of Utah whose presentation is The Ecology of Cultivated Landscapes: Theoretical, Methodological, and Ethical Considerations. The Recent Advances Lecture for 2019 will be on Thursday by Robin Kimmerer from SUNY-ESF whose talk will be titled P-values and cultural values: Creating symbiosis among indigenous and western knowledges to advance ecological justice. One exciting benefit of having our meeting in conjunction with USSEE is the addition to the program of a unique plenary which will be given by Daniel Childers from Arizona State University on Tuesday morning titled Informed interdisciplinary social-ecological approaches in an era of convergence science? Taken together, I believe these presentations offer an expansive perspective on a range of topics and advance the meeting theme in an excellent way.
Local Host, Sarah Emery, from the University of Louisville has done an excellent job organizing field trips. At the meeting, we will have a variety of evening socials and gatherings to facilitate networking. In addition, I hope you will find time to relax with colleagues and make new friends while you are visiting Louisville. The convention center is located in the cultural and culinary epicenter of the city. You will find yourself in walking distance to a wide variety of dining options. If time permits I hope you will avail yourself of some of the many nearby attractions unique to Louisville including the Mohammad Ali Center, the Louisville Slugger museum, the Belle of Louisville Steamboat and the many opportunities to learn about the bourbon heritage of the region. The waterfront redevelopment is a popular spot and includes the opportunity to walk across the Ohio on a pedestrian bridge. If you want to venture a little further away from the Convention Center, I encourage you to check out one of the lovely Fredrick Law Olmstead parks or the JB Speed Art Museum.
This is the 20th anniversary of my first ESA meeting and I eagerly look forward to seeing many old friends in Louisville and to the opportunity to meet and learn from folks who are coming to ESA for the first time. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns and I would be particularly grateful if you would stop me at the meeting and share your thoughts. The Society wants to know what you are thinking and I am happy to field any ideas you may have.
Best wishes and see you in Louisville,
Ryan McEwan, 2019 Program Chair