I’m currently in Palm Springs, CA enjoying the 100+ degree weather and the annual meeting of the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC). This is a great meeting that brings scientists and engineers across disciplines together to share their research, engage in hands-on workshops and field trips, and make plans for future collaborations. I wrote about coming to this conference in 2013 and the benefits and challenges of bringing scientists from varied disciplines together (check that post out here!). While many aspects of the meeting are the same, it has clearly grown much bigger over the years.
One of the things I like about SCEC that sets it apart from larger meetings is that all talks are plenary– meaning there is only one talk scheduled at a time and everyone attends. The first plenary talk of the meeting was given Sunday night by Dr. Lucy Jones. She is an incredible science communicator; she is clear, knowledgeable, purposeful, and funny. She gave a great talk about her collaboration with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to improve the city’s earthquake preparedness and get the business community on board with this important effort.
This year is a special meeting because Tom Jordan, who has been SCEC Director since 2002, is retiring after 15 years of service. Tom has helped develop SCEC into the powerful scientific community that it has become. Many people have given their tributes to Tom over the course of the meeting, culminating in a banquet Monday night, closed out by karaoke. I can’t really imagine any other group of scientists getting together, putting on Hawaiian shirts, and singing Eagle’s songs to each other, but that’s the kind of spirit that makes SCEC such a special meeting.