It can make you sad. You see these bright-eyed, bushy-tailed young PhD students and post docs coming into the CEED network full of vitality and vigour, eager to save the world with their science (but sometimes a tad naïve about how the real world works); and before you know it they’re gone. They’ve completed their thesis or finished their research fellowship and they’re off to their next posting, often on the other side of the globe.
We saw them develop, earn their research stripes, struggle with the various challenges that beset every research project, and (mostly) triumph. And then, they move on in search of new challenges – a little bit wiser, tougher, less innocent and more mature.
It’s the natural course of life. The sadness of their leaving, felt by every parent watching their children grow and leave, is offset however by the knowledge that our little CEEDlings are (and will be) making important differences wherever they take root.
Indeed, CEED (and its associated networks) has now seen many early-career researchers come and go, and while we miss them all, it’s a beautiful thing to see them flourishing in foreign pastures; bringing new insights and approaches to the complex world of conservation science. You can read some of their stories in this issue and coming issues. And we have celebrated our clever Alumni in this year’s CEED Annual Report.
CEED’s impact increases with time (see Figure 1 on page 3) and a big part of our future impact, that will likely never properly be evaluated because it’s so difficult to measure, will be the interactions of our Alumni as they develop into seasoned researchers. They still keep in contact with CEED (through Decision Point and Dbytes among other things) but they also keep in touch with each other through formal conservation science associations and informal social media networks.
Our CEEDlings began their academic careers with the fervent belief their science could make a real difference. As Alumni, they still strive to do so; and as they progress they all have half an eye on their sibling CEEDlings. Long may they flourish.