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Brown Bag Series, Now in its Second Year, Offers Inside Look at CSS

CDI Workshop, August  17-18, 2011 The third annual CDI Workshop, August 17–18, 2011, combined one of the lectures with a brown bag session.
Photo Credit: Jennifer Lopez, USGS

Wondering what others in the Core Science Systems (CSS) Mission Area have been up to lately? Confused about the difference between NGP and NGGDPP? Did you miss the metadata summit and want to hear how it went? Join us at the monthly CSS Brown Bag to learn about these and many other topics.

It all started in the fall of 2010, when Core Science Analytics and Synthesis (CSAS) employees Jennifer Carlino and Scott McEwen brainstormed about ways for employees to learn about the other people and programs within the newly formed CSS Mission Area. At their suggestion, a monthly brown bag series for all CSS employees was established, with the initial presentations focusing on the realigned Programs within CSS and how to better integrate them.

Associate Director of Core Science Systems (CSS) Kevin Gallagher delivered a Brown Bag on May 16, 2012. He spoke about CSS delivering nationally focused science and information science programs that provide fundamental research and data underpinning all Mission Areas of the USGS, the USGS Science Strategy, Secretarial, Presidential, and Societal Priorities.

Shortly after the series began with an inaugural presentation by Kate Kase of CSAS, the CSS Communication Team eagerly adopted it as an activity they would sponsor. The early months were filled with overview presentations on CSS major programs and initiatives, with all CSS Program Coordinators taking a turn at the virtual podium. By the autumn of 2011, our audience was ready to dig into the details of more specific topics such as the Protected Areas Database of the US (PAD–US) and The National Map, and to hear about the activities that took place at the Community for Data Integration's annual meeting and the Metadata Summit.

Fast forward to the present: September 2012 marks the 20th session of the series! Word of the brown bags has spread beyond CSS, with frequent requests coming in from other Mission Areas and Geographic Areas to be added to the mailing list. Indeed, we are fortunate to be able to tap into the expertise of speakers from a variety of Programs and backgrounds. The CSS Communication Team is currently in the process of confirming speakers for the fall and winter brown bags. We welcome your suggestions for both topics and speakers as we look forward to celebrating our two–year anniversary.

The CSS Brown Bag series takes place the third Wednesday of each month, at 1 p.m. EST. Employees in Reston, Rolla, and Denver are encouraged to gather in common meeting rooms to increase the opportunity for networking and learning about other Programs.

Students interested in becoming USGS scientists Kevin Gallagher also spoke about training the next generation of geologic mappers. Since 1966, the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program has funded approximately 1,062 students.

The meeting locations are:

  • Reston: Room 4A332, known as the "Kitchen Conference Room"
  • Rolla: Room 503
  • Denver: CSAS Central Conference Room (8000) - Building 810

Conference Call Information:

  • Audio: 703-648-4848; enter 02828#
  • WebEX:; join the "CSS Brown Bag" meeting
  • (Toll Free for non-DOI phones, dial 1-855-547-8255; enter 02828#)

We hope to see you there! If you've missed a session or two, you can catch up on our wiki: PowerPoint presentations for the previous CSS Brown Bag sessions are available at

For more information about the brown bags, or to suggest new brown bag topics, contact Marcia McNiff at

Images showing locations protected under the PAD–US program On October 19, 2011, brown bag attendees learned about the Protected Areas Database of the United States (PAD–US). This searchable, online database provides a highly flexible and technologically robust system for identifying current areas designated as parks, refuges, forests, or other types of protected areas. Among other things, attendees learned what we mean by protected areas.

Here's What People Are Saying About the CSS Brown Bags...

"The monthly brown bags provide an excellent way for CSS employees and partners to highlight their work," remarked Kevin Gallagher, Associate Director for Core Science Systems. "The brown bags are also a great way to keep up to date with CSS colleagues." As a matter of fact, Associate Director Kevin Gallagher used the series for his most recent CSS All-Hands meeting. Plans are already under way for another All-Hands update early in the fall lineup.

"I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to present at the brown bag and I look forward to future presentations and continued communication," said Pamela Fromhertz. A recent session featured NOAA's Fromhertz, the National Geodetic Survey's Colorado State Geodetic Advisor, as a speaker. Fromhertz, who interacts with the geospatial community to educate and advise on the benefits of the National Spatial Reference System (NSRS), spoke on how NSRS datums, models, and tools may be used for geospatial programs and projects.

"It was a surprise—and a very nice one—to learn that, month after month, there are at least 50 people who really want to learn more about CSS. The interest in the series is genuine, and it is helping to make CSS a close-knit team. When I had a chance to talk about geologic mapping, the best questions came from the biologists in the audience. It was a blast," said Peter Lyttle, Program Coordinator for National Cooperative Geologic Mapping and Landslide Hazards.