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.”

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About Us: Heather Mannix

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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 …

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Greetings from Retreat

The COMPASS team just before stand-up paddle-boarding on the Willamette. Clockwise from top left, Erin Moomey, Karmel James, Sarah Sunu, Leslie Rutberg, Heather Galindo, Erica Goldman, Karen McLeod, Nancy Baron, Chad English, Megan Dearden, Heather Mannix, Liz Neeley, Brooke Smith, Heather Reiff, Kenny Maher.

We are taking a break from the blog this week to attend COMPASS’€™ annual board and staff retreat. As a distributed organization, we highly value the time we can spend together, face to face. This week we’re in Portland, Oregon to reflect on the last fifteen years of our work, take stock of our evolution, and look ahead to see how COMPASS can continue to connect science to conversations that matter. We are also welcoming four new staff members who we look forward to introducing through this blog in coming weeks. See you next week!

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Navigating the Boundary

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I’m excited to be writing my first blog post as a new member of the COMPASS team. I joined COMPASS two months ago, and one of the facets of work here that I’m particularly excited by is COMPASS’ role as a boundary organization. Boundary organizations are so named because they sit at the “boundary” between science and non-science. COMPASS has traditionally helped scientists navigate across the boundaries separating science from policy and media, although we are increasingly exploring ways we can support scientists to cross boundaries to connect with business, legal and other communities as well.  A relatively new term, the definition and theory of “boundary organizations” began to coalesce in the early 2000s, but the role that boundary organizations play – the seat between science and non-science – has been evolving over a much longer timescale.

[Read more...]

Making Peace with Self Promotion

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I prepare for writing projects as if they are adventures, so when I sat down to write a book chapter this spring, I was excited. The topic was self-promotion in social media, for the forthcoming The Complete Guide to Science Blogging, made possible by an NASW Ideas Grant. My coffee was hot, my playlist was inspired, and my background research had me buzzing… but before I started writing, I first saved the tweet I would post when I submitted: [Read more...]

Top Ten Tip-lists for Sharing Your Science

The COMPASS blog offers tips for puzzling through the challenges of science communication. 
(CC BY-NC-SA by Gabriela Pinto on flickr)

Almost fifteen years ago I joined two of COMPASS’ cofounders – Jane Lubchenco and Vikki Spruill – at the Packard Foundation to share about the need for a science communication organization and what our fledging enterprise was doing to help scientists engage more effectively beyond their peers.  Last week, I visited the Packard Foundation to revisit what COMPASS is doing now and what we hope to do in the future. I couldn’t help but reflect on what has transpired since that initial meeting. We’ve learned, experienced and witnessed so much! Two things struck me as I reflected on the last 15 years. [Read more...]