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Posted 4/21/2017

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By Marie Darling
U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Public Affairs

At the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory Research Physical Scientist Robert “RJ” Jones has initiated a new forum for early career and junior scientists. Chalk Talk is an effort to connect the early career and junior scientists at the laboratory and engage them in scientific discussions and each other’s research.

Jones joined CRREL as an intern in 2014 with Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education program. And in 2015 he joined the technical staff permanently as a member of CRREL’s Soil Microbiology Research Team. 

“The recent meeting was held to gauge interest, make introductions,” said Jones. “It even included a short Chalk Talk with a few people sharing an aspect of their research.”  

The pilot meeting met with a sense of success, since the advertisement was limited to mainly word-of-mouth, with a few new junior researchers in attendance representing four of CRREL’s six branches.  Jones hopes to establish a monthly Chalk Talk meeting in the future.

Jones has already received feedback from CRREL Terrestrial and Cryospheric Sciences Branch’s Sandra Jones.

“Thank you so much for organizing the whiteboard science jam session this morning. I really enjoyed it and appreciate you bringing the junior staff generation together on something so positive. Good idea! Looking forward to the next one,” stated Sandra Jones in an email.

“I think this is a really original and innovative idea,” said Dr. Justin Berman, Chief of the Biogeochemical Sciences Branch and RJ’s supervisor. “A forum like this is necessary at any organization, but especially at CRREL where we have had numerous new hire engineers and scientists join our staff. My hope is that RJ pursues this initiative and establishes monthly meetings. This will provide an opportunity to organize and present to other researchers in a non-threatening environment.” 

And, Chalk Talk has even received the ERDC Human Capital seal of approval...

“I really like this idea, especially because it is being initiated and conducted by the very people it benefits,” said Dr. Gary Anderton, Director of Human Capital Office. “Effective communication and collaboration are critical to employee engagement, and this Chalk Talk idea should provide both in a casual forum that appeals to our newest employees. I hope that this idea catches on in other places in the ERDC!”

chalk talk ERDC ERDC Careers USACE