The faculty, graduate students, postdocs and staff of MIT’s Program in Atmospheres, Oceans, and Climate (PAOC) begin each year with a retreat supported by the Houghton Fund. The 2004 PAOC Retreat took place at the Waterville Valley Resort and Conference Center in Waterville Valley, NH over the weekend of October 1-3rd.
Each year, the PAOC retreat centers its discussions and lectures around a particular theme; this year's was "Controversial Problems in Atmospheres, Oceans and Climate." In order to help guide the conversation, the PAOC Retreat Committee invited a broad array of captivating speakers; each addressed a controversial problem related to his/her particular field of interest. Professor Kenneth Davis (P.S.U.), Dr. Stephanie Dutkiewicz (M.I.T.), Professor Richard Lindzen (M.I.T.), Professor Joseph Pedlosky (W.H.O.I.), Professor Ronald Prinn (M.I.T.), and Dr. Joseph Tribbia (N.C.A.R.) accepted invitations to speak during the retreat.
The talks themselves varied in structure and included a discussion of a problem's origin, its role in the larger science, new directions launched by its research and roadblocks to resolution. Some topics encompassed issues that were either currently or historically controversial. And on occassion, speakers included their perspective on the non-technical aspects of researching controversial subjects (i.e., politics, ethics, financial implications,etc.).
On Friday evening, PAOC members shared their research in a lighter framework--playing a game of "Guess that Researcher." Debuting this year, the exercise helped showcase in-house research in a fun, low-key setting. Students, postdocs, researchers, and faculty brought a small example or display of their research, e.g. "pretty pictures/illustrations". With the clock ticking down from 20 min and no identifying information to help them, guests went around to each poster, trying to figure out to whom they belonged.
After a relaxing and invigorating weekend taking in research insights and the crisp fall air, the PAOC group departed for Cambridge.