11/30/12 Link Round-Up

If you read our blog regularly, you know that COMPASS has been involved in a lot of ocean acidification related events lately.

This week a panel of scientists in Washington State released a 42-step plan to reduce ocean acidification both regionally and globally. The Governor will also allocate $3.3 million to support the priority recommendation. This is a huge step in science informing policy, as well as for the science of ocean acidification.  [Read more…]

Trade Secrets At Sea: How Much Information Is Enough?

The author (awkwardly) poses near the (smelly) baleen of a stranded fin whale taken in for necropsy at a lab in Woods Hole, MA. Photo by Maureen Lynch.

*This post was slightly modified from its original version on Dec. 4,2012

Marine fisheries observers rarely claim a space in the media spotlight. It’s an obscure job – only a couple of hundred people work as full-time observers in ports across the country – but the valuable at-sea data they collect for the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is used by fisheries managers, fish biologists, and watchdog groups alike. In the October 26th issue of Science, however, fisheries observers made national science news.  Earlier this year, NOAA announced the proposal of a new rule that would dictate how much, and in what detail, information collected by observers is made available to those outside government. Limiting the use of these data is controversial because the observer program uses government funds – $40 million according to Science – and because the agency is mandated with managing a resource of the public trust, something that’s difficult to do well while restricting data.

To me, though, this issue is anything but obscure. In “my other life,” prior to joining COMPASS, I worked as a marine fisheries observer for nearly three years. Based out of Point Judith, RI and New Bedford, MA, I worked aboard commercial fishing boats… everything from tiny day trawlers to 48-hour gillnetters to multi-day bottom trawlers to longliners and factory ships that froze and boxed squid at sea. I’d spend anywhere from a few hours to 14 days on a trip, collecting safety, gear, economic, catch and bycatch information for the databases at NMFS. [Read more…]

11/23/12 Link Round-Up

Photo courtesy of 'Ravages' via Flickr.

Happy Thanksgiving! As we at COMPASS take stock of all the things we are thankful for (while enjoying a few days with family and friends), we’d like to thank all of our blog readers! Thank you for reading, and please feel free to comment about what you like, dislike, and would like to see more of. Please feel free to comment directly on our blog, tweet at us, or e-mail! Thank you, again, and here are a few links that popped up before the holiday: [Read more…]

Field Notes: Reflections From The Policy Front Lines

The 2003 Knauss Fellows interviewed for this post in 2003 with then-NOAA Admiral XXX, clockwise from top left: Barbara Piechel, Rachel Feeney, Bridget Ferriss, and Sunshine Menezes.

When Chad and I prep scientists to participate in policy briefings, we often share our own experiences of entering the policy arena for the first time as Knauss Marine Policy Fellows.  Chad talks about finishing his dissertation on a Friday in 2005 and showing up the following Monday in the Senate Commerce Committee, bright-eyed, bushy tailed, and expecting to bring the latest scientific discoveries to members of Congress. Only then he discovered that Congressional offices don’t have direct access to journal articles (or even read academic papers). I tell scientists about the time I spent on the Hill in 2003, helping to draft bill language for reauthorization of the Marine Mammal Protection Act in the House Committee on Resources – I was suddenly expected to be an expert on marine mammals and on how to write arcane legislative language… neither of which were part of my actual skill set at the time.

Chad and I have both incorporated insights from our Knauss fellowship experiences into our current work with COMPASS at the intersection of science and policy. When COMPASS does communications and policy trainings for scientists, we talk about the idea that understanding these cultural differences is the key to making effective connections between the two worlds. I’ve been especially curious to hear what others experienced when they stepped out of science and into the policy world, and since it’s been nearly 10 years since I started my fellowship in the Subcommittee of Fisheries, Oceans, and Wildlife in the House Committee on Resources, I decided to ask some of the other legislative fellows in my cohort.  Through a brief series of questions, I asked a few of them about the lasting take homes they see from their fellowship experience, how it has shaped their worldview, and to reflect on what they saw as key differences between the culture of science and the culture of policy. [Read more…]

11/16/12 Link Round-Up

As we continue to emerge topically from the sea and take our first few steps on land, COMPASS is increasingly excited about weaving together connected science stories that span ecosystems. While we’ve always recognized that processes on land affect the sea, we are finally able to dig deeper into what that means to solve the issues of our time. This week’s link roundup features a few stories that are interconnected, plus a few outliers: [Read more…]

Scientists Weigh In: Impostor Syndrome In A Silo-Busting World

Embracing difference (in this case, naiveté in a specialty) may help you see the forest for the trees.  Photo courtesy of torremountain via Flickr.

When Brooke first shared the news that we were going to spend the next 9 to 12 months exploring what an expanded scope for COMPASS might look like, I reacted with a mix of “wow – just think of the possibilities!” and “holy s#$%!”

The terrified part of me was wrestling with impostor syndrome. There’s a palpable buzz about this phenomenon on Twitter and in the blogosphere, among scientists and beyond. In a nutshell, it’s that nagging fear that we don’t know enough (everyone else knows more!), we’re a phony, a fraud … and sooner or later we’ll be found out. You can learn more in Josh Drew’s recent lecture for graduate students at Columbia University. [Read more…]

The Media (Still) Sets The Agenda

A member of the media ask a question in a briefing.  Photo courtesy of The U.S. Army via Flickr.

*denotes a link that automatically downloads in PDF format

In spite of the changing media landscape, the media still sets the agenda for policy discussions. This is one of the biggest reasons COMPASS incorporates journalist trainers, and a focus on traditional media, in our science communications trainings. And, while we recognize that news is moving increasingly online – and that the interplay between traditional and new media is undoubtedly complex* –  the traditional media continues to play a key role in setting the agenda, even for online content. [Read more…]

11/9/12 Link Round-Up

On Tuesday, President Obama was re-elected as the 44th President of the United States. No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, one thing that is not up for debate is Hurricane Sandy’s devastating trail. Many still have no power, and a second storm this week brought snow to parts of the already-affected area. These events have fueled ongoing discussion over interconnected environmental and societal issues. While COMPASS continues to send our thoughts to those in need, we are also cognizant that, in light of these recent events, our own move to expand topically beyond oceans could not be more relevant and necessary. Below are a few articles and postings that caught our attention this week:

Photo courtesy of ‘Ravages’ via Flickr.

[Read more…]

Representing COMPASS To Policymakers

The author prepares his comments with Assistant Director of Policy Outreach Erica Goldman, and converses with scientist Will Graf prior to a recent briefing.

Photo by: Meghan Miner.

As Brooke shared last week, we no longer think of the beach as a limit for our work, instead we view it as another boundary across which we can connect scientists, journalists, and policymakers. This is an exciting time for all of us at COMPASS. We’ll be getting to know communities that are new to us and we’ll be introducing a lot of scientists to different facets of our work for the first time. I want to share a window on our approach to one of these facets: connecting scientists to policymakers. [Read more…]

11/2 Link Round-Up

This week, we at COMPASS extend our thoughts to the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Beyond the most pressing impacts on human lives, the storm has also brought science to the forefront.  In particular, Sandy has reinvigorated politically delicate conversations about climate change and climate adaptation just days before the Presidential election. Below find some articles discussing Sandy and the connection to climate change, as well as a few Halloween-related fun posts to lighten things up: [Read more…]