Women’s Luncheon at IGARSS 2018 in Valencia

WinGRSS at IEEE IGARSS 2018 in Valencia, Spain: Joint Industry, Young Professionals and Women in GRSS Mixer, the Women in GRSS Luncheon, and TIE Forum Women in STEM Panel [Women in GRS]

The GRSS IDEA (Inspire, Develop, Empower, Advance) Committee is pleased to provide some of the most recent WIE activities from the IEEE IGARSS 2018 conference in Valencia, Spain, held mid-summer from July 22 to July 27 of 2018. It was a highly successful conference, with an expansion of the WIE social networking and outreach activities at IGARSS, led by Mariko Burgin and Lori Bruce. These included a social mixer off-site on Monday evening in combination with the IEEE Industry and the GRSS Young Professionals (YPs) organizations, a dedicated Women in GRSS Luncheon on Tuesday followed by the Technology Industry and Education (TIE) Forum Panel on Women in STEM, and an associated workshop focusing on professional development of women.



Impressions from the opening day of the IEEE IGARSS Conference in Valencia. (photo credit IGARSS2018 pictures archive submission by organizing committee).


Photograph panorama taken from the Industry, YP, and WinGRSS mixer balcony. (photo credit Dr. Shawn C. Kefauver)

First, we are certain that the joint Industry, YP and WinGRSS social mixer down at the Coso del Mar restaurant at the beach in front of Valencia was a huge success, thanks in large part to the kind contributions of Descartes Labs for making the event extra affordable, widely publicized, and also because of their cool t-shirts and stickers. It may sound like a lot to handle at once, but the success of the event was evident in its high attendance and an excellent ambiance for mingling with not just one but multiple diversity, and outreach initiatives. Brief presentations were provided by GRSS representatives of each group, including the GRSS President Dr. Adriano Camps, the GRSS Young Professionals Ambassador Dr. Subit Chakrabarti and also a warm welcome from Dr. Nathan Longbotham from Descartes Labs. There were around 100 people at the event throughout the course of the event.  An excellent tapas dinner and drinks with views out over the beaches and sunset looking out over the Mediterranean provided the inspiration for getting to know one another and learning all about the GRSS IDEA initiatives starting already on the evening of the first full day of IGARSS 2019. As Dr. Keely Roth put it, “The location was gorgeous, and the food was delicious,” so definitely consider coming out and learning about GRSS YP and other IDEA initiatives at future IGARSS conferences!


Image of one of the small informative talks provided by the GRSS YP Ambassador Dr. Subit Chakrabarti. GRSS President Adriano Camps (on left) in attendance. (photo credit Dr. Keely Roth)


Networking activities at the YPP and WIE GRSS combined mixer dinner on the beach in Valencia. (photo credit Peter Marile, DescartesLabs)

Tuesday was the big day for WIE at IGARSS 2018, starting with the Women in GRSS Luncheon, now in its 7th year and still going strong, which provides a more informal setting for both men and women to interact and network with the senior members of GRSS, and the Women in STEM Forum chairs and panelists before the session started. The luncheon was organized with small talks interspersed with plenty of time to enjoy the delicious food, and it was well attended by more than women, as Dr. Caitlin Kontgis remarked, “I thought the luncheon was well-attended, and I was glad it wasn’t just women who were there. It felt like the broader GRSS supported the Women in GRSS group, and it was definitely a valuable experience to participate in”. So, if like Dr. Keel Roth, you “enjoyed learning about the mentorship program and hearing some of the experiences from mentor/mentee pairs” be sure to take a closer look and sign up for the IEEE GRSS Women Mentoring Women (WMW) Program on the web!



The IEEE GRSS Women in STEM Forum started soon after, chaired by Mariko Burgin and Lori Bruce and featuring a panel of distinguished guests, including Dr. Diane Evans (NASA JPL), Dr. Caitlin Kontgis (Descartes Labs), Dr. Melba Crawford (Purdue University), Dr. Keely Roth (The Climate Corp.), and Dr. Karen St. Germaine (NOAA). Each started the forum with short presentation on their experiences as Women in STEM and words of wisdom on how they managed to successfully move their careers forward.

One can’t find a better description of the value of the Women in STEM Forum than from the words of one of the esteemed panel members themselves, Dr. Caitlin Kontgis, “The Women in STEM TIE forum was the highlight of IGARSS for me, and I was really proud to serve on the panel. I wish I had attended something similar as a younger scientist because I think I could have benefited from a lot of the messaging.” IDEA and WinGRSS are definitely planning on provided more great perspectives and guidance with more TIE Women in STEM Forum panels for IGARSS 2019 so be sure to check it out.

Dr. Keely Roth, also a panel member, noted “I felt the panel was an excellent representation of the diversity of career paths women in GRSS can follow. We had women from government, academia, and industry, and in different stages of our careers. The presentations really built on each other to share a positive message and concrete examples of developing your career successfully. Two themes that emerged from my perspective were 1) the role of self-confidence and our need to focus on building this with respect to our careers and 2) the importance of lifting each other up and supporting other women in our field and across science and engineering”. After the series of short presentations then followed an open Q&A discussion. Immediately afterwards, the WIE activities continued into the late afternoon with a workshop on professional development for “Women in Technology” led by Dr. Regina Eckert form the Center for Creative Leadership.  

IEEE GRSS Women in STEM Forum Panel, from left to right, Dr. Diane Evans (NASA JPL), Dr. Karen St. Germaine (NOAA), Dr. Caitlin Kontgis (Descartes Labs), Dr. Keely Roth (The Climate Corp.), Dr. Melba Crawford (Purdue University) and Mariko Burgin (NASA JPL) . (photo credit Dr. Caitlin Kontgis).

Rounding up WIE at IGARSS 2018 were announcements regarding continuing WIE activities, such as the IEEE GRSS Women Mentoring Women (WMW) Program, which provides a framework and support for connecting early career with senior professionals through a year long program. We are also happy to introduce the GRSS IDEA (Inspire, Develop, Empower, Advance) Committee for anyone interested in participating in more inclusive Education and Outreach GRSS activities. For more information on this activity and others, please see the WIE website at this link or contact Mariko Burgin at mburgin@ieee.org.




This article was prepared by Shawn C. Kefauver is an Associate Professor and Researcher at the Plant Physiology Section of the Faculty of Biology of the University of Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain. He has been an active member in IEEE and GRSS since 2006 when he participated in his first international scientific conference as an IGARSS Student Paper Contest Finalist with the results of his MS in Ecology at UC Davis. Even though he did not win the Student Paper Contest, he did get a medal in the soccer tournament and has been hooked on IEEE IGARSS science, YPP and soccer and other social networking events ever since and attends whenever possible. As part of his education, Shawn Kefauver studied abroad in five different countries and since the completion of his PhD has participated in research, outreach and teaching activities in over a dozen countries. He strives to continue to support diversity and equality in his work every day.

Email and contact info: sckefauver@gmail.com, sckefauver@ub.edu, sckefauver.com, @sckefauver

1 – Integrative Crop Ecophysiology Group, Plant Physiology Section, Faculty of Biology, University of Barcelona, 08028 Barcelona, Spain.

2 – AGROTECNIO (Center for Research in Agrotechnology), Av. Rovira Roure 191, 25198, Lleida, Spain.