26th North American Diatom Symposium

This year's gathering included the traditional posters, presentations, field trip, auction, and scum run, and along with times, remote participation through zoom was available for those who were unable to travel to Indiana. As always, NADS was relaxing and informal time for meeting new colleagues and welcoming bright and energetic students to the field.

Symposium Logo

While visiting the Sycamore Outdoor Center, Jeffery Stone collected diatom samples from Sycamore Lake and shared them with Shelly Smith, who drew the diatoms. Shelly then used a combination of ink, pigments made from algae, and watercolor to paint the inked logo. The background component of the logo was painted with pigments that Shelly created from local coal and hematite from Indiana (from Cagles Mill – not far from the meeting location), which was crushed and made into watercolors.

Keynote Lectures

Diatoms and the Lakeside Legacy
Mark B. Edlund

Summer 2023 will be the 60th year that Ecology and Systematics of Diatoms has been taught at Iowa Lakeside Laboratory! What was started by Gene Stoermer in 1963 as a clinic for researchers to gather has become an annual training ground for undergrads, graduate students, and professionals from the US and abroad. The class has dramatically expanded diatom research from a handful of museum and agency researchers studying diatoms in the 1960s to fostering academic programs throughout the world. At its core, the class has always strived to introduce everyone to microscopy, diatom diversity, ecology, biology, and systematics, and to teach the fundamentals of using diatoms as tools. The class has created a legacy by discovering and documenting the world’s biodiversity, responding to scientific need, changing how we communicate science, and most importantly building community within each class, at Lakeside, and inviting everyone to be part of the wonderful world of diatoms.

After Ehrenberg: Retracing the Artistic Legacy of Early Microbial Exploration
Shelly Smith

Dr. Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg was one of the foundational microbiological scientists, identifying thousands of species of microorganisms including many desmids, algae, and diatoms. Like many scientists working prior to microscopic photography, Dr. Ehrenberg produced illustrations to accompany his descriptions and texts, visually demonstrating his discoveries. One of the most prolific scientists of his time, Dr. Ehrenberg left behind over 3,000 illustrations in varying mediums, creating an artistic legacy that accompanies his taxonomic work.

The Ehrenberg microorganism collection of sample records and illustrations is digitized and can be downloaded for free from the Natural History Museum of Berlin. Leveraging these publicly available records, I researched and re-traced the steps of the historical scientific expeditions that sourced the sample materials for Dr. Ehrenberg’s collection. Focusing on locations in western North America, I collected water and soil from locations of famous scientific and exploration groups like the The Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel and the John C. Frémont Expeditions. Using these contemporary samples, I compared the current microbiolgocial presence to the historical organisms Dr. Ehrenberg recorded with his illustrations over 150 years ago.

Inspired by the way Dr. Ehrenberg organized and thought about microorganisms and the way he composed his illustrations, I’ll discuss the historical roots of most major historical microbiology collections, what was present and absent when looking back at the microbiological record, and the art I am making as part of my ongoing research on Dr. Ehrenberg’s collection.

Outreach Workshop

Shelly Smith and Janai Southworth lead a workshop in which we formed groups to write ideas around the following questions in timed sessions, sharing and discussing our ideas as we went through our brainstorm. This session and its results are designed to start us thinking about our outreach but is not comprehensive or all-inclusive. Thank you to all who participated!

What is outreach?
Building community through solving common problems
Including people who may not have been included in the past
Expanding and diversifying your community by meeting and engaging new people
Bridging language and cultural gaps to share information
Sharing our passions and what we’re excited about
Sharing knowledge without assumptions or judgements
Building and strengthening personal connections through information sharing
Translating complex ideas into clear, understandable information
Making science fun, not scary
Making your area of study tangible and real to other people
Providing a variety of learning opportunities for people at different levels and learning styles
Allowing yourself to explore your own study more deeply and chase ideas and passions
Collaborate with others on projects both inside and outside your area of study
Change perceptions of topics or subjects
Connecting with colleagues
Making information sharing unidirectional
Community-lead projects

Outreach methods and activities
Talking to others about what you are doing
Engaging the media
Partnerships with schools, including for kids, adults, and other studies outside your expertise
Internet and social media like Bilibili (Chinese video channel), Youtube, Podcasts, and other channels
Visual aids like interpretive signs in natural areas
Comic books, books, stories, artwork of all kinds
Community-lead projects
Teaching classes for many different audiences
Open houses
Social and special events
Seminars, classes, and teaching
Open access resources
Summer camps
Interactive programs
Citizen science

Why is outreach important?
Algae are amazing!
We are having a lot of fun and want to share that passion!
Get people excited about our work
Our planet depends on it - our work helps save the environment
Inspire future generations to enter science
Encourage people to enter this area of study
Expand and strengthen our community
Make new friends and personal connections
Remove fear and mistrust
Provide reliable information
Break down barriers to knowledge
Inspire interest and involvement in our work by a diverse group of people
Expand our audience
Make our work relevant to everyday life
Encourage a diversity of perspectives and views
Required as part of a grant or a condition of funding

    NADS 2024

    Plans for the next event - proposals are forthcoming.
    An assignment from the business meeting is for people to think about setting NADS as a formal society, or as aligned with another society. There are several reasons for this proposal, including to have a stable, safe place to hold funds.