8/31 Weekly Link Roundup

Looking for some reading material to get your wheels turning this Labor Day weekend? Here are a few of the articles, events, and opinions that caught our collective COMPASS eye this week: [Read more…]

About Us: Brooke Smith

Brooke Smith is the Executive Director of COMPASS.

Brooke Smith is COMPASS’ Executive Director and author of this week’s much lauded post on the disconnect that exists between effective science outreach and the process and procedures required to fund it.   Check out the post here: At Odds: Science Communications and Science Funding.

“In my work now, I lead the team that bridges the divide between academic research scientists and our nation’s leading journalists and legislators so as to strengthen the link between science and society,” she has said of her role at COMPASS.  “Only by making these connections can we as a society hope to grapple with our current challenges and achieve sustainable progress.”  Brooke joined COMPASS as one of four original staff members 10 years ago, and continues to lend her keen ‘systems-level’ eye to all aspects of COMPASS’ work.

Here’s a little bit more about Brooke: [Read more…]

At Odds: Science Funding And Science Communications

Dr.'s Walter Boynton and Jim Cloern connect their research directly to issues relevant to staffers in the House Science Committee. How can we create the infrastructure and funding to encourage more of these kinds of connections and scientific engagement?  

Photo by Heather Galindo, COMPASS.

* denotes a link that directs to a PDF

In 1997, the National Science Foundation (NSF) established the Broader Impacts section* for all funding proposals, which requires scientists to explain how their proposed work advances societal needs and the field of science generally. This section has been applauded, dismissed, criticized, and even satirized. I think the section’s creation was a good first step. While it addresses many things from education to diversity (perhaps too many, according to the critics), it also prompts an important question: “So What?”  Why does this science matter to society, what’s the scientific merit that justifies using tax dollars to pay for this research, and how will its merit be shared outside academia? [Read more…]

Weekly Link RoundUp

It’s back! Here are a few of the links that caught our eye this week: [Read more…]

About Us: Erica Goldman

Assistant Director of Science Policy Outreach, Erica Goldman.

All COMPASS staff share a common love for the natural world, and have come to COMPASS via a winding spectrum of experiences. As promised, over the next couple of weeks, we’ll dive deeper into the backgrounds of COMPASS staff.

Up first is our Assistant Director of Science Policy Outreach, Erica Goldman.  She’s also the author of this week’s blog on why scientists should care about the federal budget.

Erica works to connect relevant science to the policy dialogue, supporting scientists to better articulate their message to various audiences, particularly policymakers.  Of her job, she has said, “I’ve spent a lot of time trying to find a niche at the intersection of all of the things that I enjoy and I think I’ve found it.”

In 6 questions… here’s a little bit more about Erica: [Read more…]

The Federal Budget & You: Why Scientists Should Care About R&D Spending

Photo courtesy of the Council on Foreign Relation's Blog.

Last month, in a rare display of activism, hundreds of Canadian scientists took to the streets to protest, among other things, cuts to federal funding for environmental research and the forced closure of several research stations.  Their chant: “No science. No evidence. No truth. No democracy.”  Faced with the imminent loss of jobs and research funding across several key environmental programs, Canadian scientists are reacting vigorously to the indisputable link between the federal science budget and their academic livelihoods.

But in the absence of a critical funding crisis, scientists writ large often seem unaware of the critical role that the federal science budget plays in their daily lives. Here in the U.S., when scientists develop their research queries into proposals to the relevant federal agencies, most don’t stop to think about why that agency has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) in that subject area or how that money came to be there. Many scientists don’t understand – much less engage in – the complex machinations of the Congressional appropriations process. [Read more…]

First-Ever Weekly Link Roundup!

Photo courtesy of 'Ravages' via Flickr.

At COMPASS, we are voracious readers of news, articles and stories – from the quirky to the practical – in the fields of (surprise!) science, communication, and policy. Here are a few of the links that caught our eye this week: [Read more…]

Tasty, Tasty Humble Pie

When asked to give a Congressional briefing on ecological resilience, author Chad English thought it couldn't be done.  A successful briefing a few months later forced him to eat some humble pie.  Photo courtesy of stevendepolo via Flickr.

Two weeks after I started at COMPASS, I found myself in a conference room getting to know all of my new colleagues face-to-face for the first time.  At one point Karen McLeod, COMPASS’ Director of Science, asked me when we could organize a Congressional briefing on the topic of ecological resilience.

Resilience is a deceptively simple concept on the surface. A resilient ecosystem can withstand shocks and rebuild itself. This applies to any ecosystem, but in the marine realm, coral reefs are one of the best studied. A resilient coral reef can be partially wiped out by bleaching and bounce back to a vibrant state in short order. A less resilient coral reef might not be able to weather bleaching and be overtaken by algae.

As the newest member of the team, I was nervous about my answer to Karen’s question: Never. [Read more…]

Enter An Elevator With Confidence

Having a prepared and streamlined message ready will help you seize opportunities as they arise!  Photo courtesy of  via Flickr.

Red Cross Phlebotomist: So, do you work here on campus?
Me: Yes.
RCP: What do you do?

I pause.

I don’t know about you, but this is a tough question for me to answer in casual conversation. How much information should I give? How do I really describe my job in a few lines?

Enter: The Elevator Speech. I have only done this once in an elevator, but I frequently have this conversation at social gatherings, the hair salon, while donating blood, etc. I can only imagine you do as well… more often than you may realize.

You can find a multitude of information online detailing how to craft, perfect and deliver elevator speeches, but there is no one tried and true formula. In COMPASS trainings, however, we provide one-on-one coaching for scientists in the art of the short response. We push participants to describe their work in one minute or less in an engaging, informative way by listening and watching the people they’re talking to.

Here are a few of the COMPASS tips that I’ve used to prepare and feel confident in the delivery of my own elevator speech: [Read more…]