International Aridlands Conference 2018
Faculty and students from all over the world participated in the International Aridlands Conference, held at the International Cultural Center August 13 - 14, 2018. Plenary sessions by Texas Tech's Dr. Katherine Hayhoe and Dr. Jacqueline McLaughlin from Penn State University Lehigh Valley emphasized the critical importance of global climate change and international education to current and future challenges and solutions in arid and semi-arid lands around the world. Some 100 authors were responsible for about 50 talks and posters covering Biodiversity and Restoration, Remote Sensing, Rural Health, Soil and Land Degradation, and Water. Abstracts are available at the conference web site, 2018 AridLands Conference.
Authors came from Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and South America, and the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography of the Chinese Academy of Sciences had an especially notable international presence. In addition to the talks and the posters, which were displayed at the Museum of Texas Tech University, participants were able to view two shows currently on display at the Museum. Grasslands of North America and Africa uses taxidermy specimens, photographs, and videos to illustrate the kinds of mammalian biodiversity present in grasslands, and several people associated with the exhibit were on hand. The Art and Science of Restoration Ecology is the result of a unique collaboration between two Texas Tech University faculty, one a restoration ecologist and the other from the School of Art, both of who, as well as several of the participating students, walked participants through the show. On the morning of the 15th, participants were invited to see related activities conducted at the Lubbock Lake Landmark, a unit of the Museum of Texas Tech University, the New Deal Farm associated with the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources' Water Center, the Natural Science Research Laboratory at the Museum of TTU, and the Water Resources Center at the Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering.
Two workshops engaged participants in planning for joint educational and research programs focusing on aridlands and will hopefully contribute to future multilateral efforts. Many participants were energized by the collaborative spirit displayed and the many opportunities for informal discussions were seized on by the attendees to discuss shared interests and projects. At the end, our Chinese colleagues informed us that they would like to host the Second International Aridlands Conference in Xinjiang, China, in 2019.