I spent much of last week volunteering for Medecos XII, an international conference for the conservation, ecology, and biodiversity of our planet’s five mediterranean-climate ecosystems. (Can you guess what they are? Keep reading to find out!) The theme for the meeting was “Linking Science to Resource Management.”

The first day or two was filled with the obligatory checking-in and registering of the conferees. Probably around two hundred strong on any given day; they came from all over the globe and from a range of professions – resource managers, academics, advocates.

The next few days were filled with a variety of plenary sessions and smaller concurrent talks. The first interesting session I sat in on, was given by the impressively bearded publisher and author Malcolm Margolin of Heyday Books. He spoke persuasively of the link between art and science, and brought a selection of beautifully made books on Californian topics, from local history to Native American culture, for the attendees to appreciate. Following the conference, the books were all generously donated to David Kipen’s community project Libros Shmibros, currently (and temporarily!) based out of the Hammer Museum in Westwood. Read up at the link and check it out! (Puns intended.)

I had the unique pleasure of sitting in on and learning from a number of the other conferees as well. Did you know that oak trees are California’s premiere keystone species? Or that fire plays the major role in ecosystem dynamics across the Mediterranean regions? Or that scientists are practically begging for hunters to come to the Channel Islands and hunt the invasive deer and elk? Last one: Did you know that there are probably a dozen or so mountain lions patrolling the Santa Monica mountain range, just minutes from UCLA? Crazy, huh!

All in all, it was a delight, volunteering at Medecos XII. I was able to meet my own dean – the Dean of Life Sciences, Dr. Victoria Sork. I did not have to worry about cooking for an entire week – and yes, that is a big deal, dormies. I saw my views of Los Angeles, California, and the world, grow with leaps and bounds. And I got some complimentary conference swag. A week well spent, I think.

And finally, the answers to our quiz above. The five mediterranean-climate ecosystems of the world are: Europe’s Mediterranean Basin, California, Southwestern Australia, Southwestern South Africa, and Chile.

Until next week,

Princeton