Why Did the Scientist Cross the Road?

Although crossing the road can be a daunting task, is it made easier by the company of colleagues, some infrastructure to guide the way, and the promise new opportunities on the other side.
CC BY-SA-NC-SA by Khaz on flickr

During the past few weeks I had the opportunity to attend two conferences that had related themes and took place literally across the street from each other, but in other ways were worlds apart. First was the Ecological Society of America’s Annual Meeting (#ESA2014), which was dominated by ecological scientists sharing their research. The following week, government officials, land managers, city planners, and NGO representatives met at the first ever California Adaptation Forum (#CAF14). While both conferences explored the possibility of finding solutions by forging new connections, there was still clearly a gap between those talking about the latest research on one side of the street and those trying to figure out how to implement it on the other. [Read more...]

Tales from the Sea: Scientists Take a Storytelling Journey

Telling stories of science and conservation at IMCC3.

As we sat in an unadorned classroom at the University of Glasgow, Kyle Gillespie helped us hear the sea at night, the sounds of clacking crabs and whistling worms, amplified by the sudden darkness after a broken dive light left him sightless in 20 feet of water and revealed to him a powerful way to understand the relative health of marine systems. Delphine Rocklin transported us through a fish’s life cycle beginning in a port in North Africa and moving through the Mediterranean Sea, showing us why it is so important to consider connectivity when we manage fisheries. And Skye Augustine  introduced us to her community, the children and elders of Stz’uminus Nation in the Salish Sea, as she helped them embark on a path of discovery to connect their ancient methods of resource management to an uncertain but hopeful future.

These are just a few scenes from stories that scientists worked to craft at a two-day storytelling workshop before the start of the third International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC3). This workshop was a collaborative effort between Stephanie Green, a Smith Fellow at Oregon State University (OSU), Kirsten Grorud-Colvert, also at OSU and with PISCO (the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans), and COMPASS. Our scientist storytellers hailed from all over the world, France, Spain, Germany, Australia, Colombia, Canada, and the United States. They also spanned a range of career stages, from Ph.D. candidate to senior scientist. But this diverse group was united in their effort to embrace a challenge and learn new ways to communicate their science. [Read more...]

Diving In: Building your Communication Skills in Grad School

Diving into communications! Throughout my time in the field (pictured here in Pigeon Creek, San Salvador, Bahamas), I was collecting stories to share on my blog.

As a graduate student in the sciences, with a strong desire to make my work relevant to society, I often asked myself  “How can I get the communications skills I need?”  Long days in the field and late nights in the lab sometimes made it hard to add communications to my list of things to do, but it was really worth it – the time I invested paid off in so many ways, from expanding my skill set to informing my research (and inspiring me to build real-life applications into my masters project). One of the first things I found after joining COMPASS with my hot-off-the-press degree is that I wasn’t the only grad student asking that question. The COMPASS team hears it all the time, and is working actively to address it. [Read more...]

On Vulnerability in Art and Science Communication

Fingerpainting at its finest – I loved the swirling textures I was able to produce in this set of waves enough to snap a quick photo of it.

My closet is organized in a color spectrum, as are my books, and more strangely, my cleaning products. My spreadsheets march in rainbow precision, as do my (many) calendars. I once actually uttered the phrase, “My contingency planning is a thing of beauty.” I desperately want to package a tidy story. Put everything neatly into place. Make it pretty. Make it precise. That’s what I do. But I’ve been home from my trip to Arizona for 28 hours now, and I don’t know yet exactly how I feel or what, precisely, I have learned. Instead, this is a story about letting go. [Read more...]

Announcing the Wilburforce Fellowship in Conservation Science

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COMPASS and Wilburforce Foundation are excited to launch the Wilburforce Fellowship in Conservation Science. The fellowship aims to build a community of scientists who do decision-relevant research, communicate scientific findings effectively, and contribute to conservation solutions by engaging with local communities, policymakers, land managers, advocates, and others. It’s open to scientists of diverse affiliations and career stages working in conservation biology, ecology, environmental economics, or traditional ecological knowledge within Wilburforce’s priority geographic regions. Fellows will participate in a week of training in science communication, leadership and engagement at the Wilburforce Greenfire Campus in Seattle and receive coaching and support throughout the following year to assist them in achieving their goals.

We spoke with our Executive Director, Brooke Smith, and Wilburforce Program Officer for Conservation Science, Amanda Stanley, to learn more about the fellowship, the collaboration, and who should apply. [Read more...]

About Us: Sarah Sunu

Sarah at the shore in Beaufort, North Carolina.

Sarah Sunu is COMPASS’ Research Assistant. She’s involved in several projects – from science and policy sleuthing to helping us learn more about how we can better serve the scientists we work with. If her name looks familiar, it’s because Sarah was an intern for our DC office in 2009. She’s now in the Portland office, continuing to support COMPASS’ work.

Sarah was excited to rejoin COMPASS because, as she puts it, “The gap between public perception and scientific knowledge about the environment made the things I learned in science courses feel like hidden truths. Outside of the science world, most people didn’t seem to understand, or be aware of, the impacts our choices were having on the world around us. My early experiences in the arts and communication primed me to seek ways to help get science out there so that people could make informed decisions.” [Read more...]

Connecting at NACCB

Our "Tapas" plenary is one of the ways COMPASS is looking to connect emerging science to  public discourse. Photo credit: Megan Dearden

This post is co-authored by COMPASS Director of Science Policy Outreach Chad English.

The COMPASS team is in Missoula, Montana this week for the 2014 North American Congress for Conservation Biology (NACCB). Our plenary “Tapas” and the reception that followed kicked off myriad conversations between scientists and journalists. There were conversations about pikas and the Endangered Species Act, about endangered primates, as well as innovative efforts to engage stakeholders in discussions about what a changing climate will mean.

For us, conferences are about making connections: with people, with ideas, and between communities. One of our core activities is sleuthing new science, to identify ideas and insights that are not yet well connected to the public discourse, and brokering connections that can transform the conversation. Sometimes those connections are amongst peers. Sometimes those connections are with journalists. And sometimes they’re in the world of policy. [Read more...]

COMPASS at NACCB

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This post was co-authored by Director of Science Outreach Nancy Baron

This weekend, some 1000 scientists, managers, practitioners, agency and activist organization leaders will come together in Missoula, Montana for the North American Congress for Conservation Biology (NACCB). They are the investigators  and observers of what is happening to our land, water, and biodiversity. This is their opportunity to connect with their colleagues and to share new research and developments in conservation science and practice. The meeting’s theme is “Challenging Conservation Boundaries” and COMPASS will be there to help scientists build the skills and relationships they need to bring their new insights and evidence to bear on environmental decision-making across the continent. [Read more...]

About Us: Erin Moomey

Erin in Angkor Watt.

Erin Moomey is our Operations Manager and the author of last year’s blog post on how COMPASS selects new projects. She describes her role at COMPASS as, “a combination of connecting programs with operations (i.e. making sure we get i’s dotted and t’s crossed in the least bureaucratic way possible) and problem solving.”

Erin says, “I’ve always been a holistic thinker. My education is in peace and conflict studies, which incorporates perspectives from all across the social sciences (and literature) to gain a better understanding of our social ecosystems.  That’s similar to COMPASS’ approach of breaking down disciplinary silos or institutional silos, to build a more complete picture, so we can make more informed decisions.”

[Read more...]

About Us: Heather Mannix

newzealand

COMPASS has welcomed a number of new folks to our team recently, and so we’re reviving our “About Us” series to introduce them. This week’s focus is Heather Mannix. Heather is our Science Engagement Specialist, and the author of a recent blog post on the role of boundary organizations.

At COMPASS, Heather works to connect science and scientists to relevant policy conversations. Heather’s experience working with U.S. and international policy motivated her to work for an organization that bridges the boundary between science and policy. She says, “I saw firsthand the value that science had for policy decisions but also that there are times when the mechanisms to share science can fail for reasons unrelated to the quality of the information – you really do need a guide to navigate the boundary. Learning this motivated me to work in a way that recognizes how important the mechanisms are, and that those opportunities to share science have to be well crafted.”

More about Heather …

[Read more...]