3/29/13 Link Round-Up

Photo courtesy of 'Ravages' via Flickr.

There’s often nothing more intriguing (or productive!) than a healthy debate. And in this regard, this week didn’t disappoint: The Supreme Court is hearing a highly publicized case on same-sex marriage, and the online science and conservation community has been ramping up their own equally heated (but completely different) discussion around de-extinction. The question is whether humans should revive populations of extinct species if we can: Do we have a moral obligation to do so since we are likely a major cause in their extinction? And, if we do, what type of world are we bringing these species back into? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments… below are a few links to spark your thinking: [Read more…]

About Us: Chad English

Chad sailing with his kids in Puget Sound.

Chad is COMPASS’ Director of Science Policy Outreach and author of an ongoing series exploring the budget process and what it means for scientists (including this week’s post, which illustrates the point at which the budget becomes a zero-sum game for funding).

In his position, Chad helps to connect science in timely and relevant ways to the policy landscape and policymakers.  Of starting his job at COMPASS from a policy position nearly seven years ago, Chad says, “It was really exciting because there’s this grounding in policy, but it allowed me to really get back into science at the same time. My past experiences have made me appreciate that there’s a much deeper need for helping scientists connect to policy, in particular.  They’re often earnest, and eager but don’t know where to start.”  Of ferrying souls across the science/policy divide Chad says, “it’s a fun balance.” Here’s a little bit more about Chad: [Read more…]

Budget Trade-offs: A Zero-Sum Game

Once the budget subcommittee has decided on their 302(b) sub-allocations, the battle for dollars becomes a zero-sum game.


Should this dollar go to the NSF or to the FBI? It can’t go to both. You have to respect the people who make that decision.”

David Goldston of the Natural Resources Defense Council made this comment in front of a full room at the AAAS annual meeting last month (you can find paraphrases of this comment in the Twitter stream, Storified here). This is a very real choice, and it’s being set up right now through the federal budget process. There are thousands of people on Capitol Hill this week trying to make the case for their programs including probably hundreds of scientists and science supporters.

The seemingly endless budget and spending and sequestration noise coming out of D.C. can seem overwhelming and tedious. With sequestration threatening even the annual White House Easter egg roll, the budget rhetoric in D.C. remains heated and the gridlock seems complete. The President still hasn’t released a budget proposal for 2014 and now isn’t expected to until next month (despite my earlier prognostication). But for Congress, the budget process is marching on, and the tradeoff David described is getting set up right now.

[Read more…]

3/22/13 Link Round-Up, Spring Cleaning Edition

Photo courtesy of 'Ravages' via Flickr.

Happy Spring, everyone! Today COMPASS is enjoying a little spring cleaning by observing what we like to call “Admin Day.” Because we are a distributed organization and we operate internally in a ‘virtual office,’ keeping our technology running smoothly and our computers clutter-free helps to maximize our productivity. It is in this spirit that about once a quarter, everyone on staff takes the day to do all the tech organizing, cleaning, and friction-busting stuff that we don’t get to on a daily basis in the midst of our programmatic work. We don’t schedule any outside meetings or calls and many of us set up a vacation responder on e-mail so people don’t expect immediate responses. While finding the right day to schedule this time can be a nightmare, the benefits are almost priceless. In the spirit of Admin Day, we’ve rounded up a few resources that you can refer to to give your office, work, and life a little “spring refresh” if you’d like: [Read more…]

Embracing Change To Stay Relevant

Juliet Eilperin interacts with scientists at a COMPASS training. She recently announced she'll be leaving the environment desk to cover the White House for the Washington Post.

I once heard healthy organizations are constantly changing. This means effective leaders are not only agents of change but are also change managers. As the Executive Director of a science communication organization, this philosophy has become a mantra for me as I strive to keep our organization healthy. Because we operate at the nexus of the quickly moving worlds of science, media and policy, recognizing that embracing and adapting to change is the norm means that it’s OK that this is part of our daily work too. Embracing change has liberated me. [Read more…]

3/15/13 Link Round-Up

Photo courtesy of 'Ravages' via Flickr.

TGIF Link Round-Uppers! This week was chock-full of memorable days. It began with each of us losing an hour to daylight saving time, Pope Francis (a trained chemist!) was chosen as the first pontiff from Latin America, it is the last full week of winter, yesterday we celebrated National Pi Day, and Sunday is St. Patrick’s Day. No wonder we all struggled with one less hour this week! In addition, we found the following postings interesting… [Read more…]

About Us: Nancy Baron


Nancy is COMPASS’ Director of Science Outreach and author of this week’s post: “Diving the Uttermost Ends of the Ocean” – the story behind the story of a dive trip to Indonesia, published March 10th as a travel feature in the LA Times.

Nancy was the first employee of COMPASS, and has continued to fulfill her vision of supporting science for broader public change ever since. In her position, Nancy helps to empower and connect scientists to communicate about their work; she has also served as the lead communications trainer for the prestigious Leopold Leadership Program since 2001. She is a 2013 recipient of the Peter Benchley Ocean Award for Excellence in Media, and literally wrote the book on making science matter.  Of her job, she says, “I love working with scientists to help them drill down to the essence of what they want to communicate about their research. Then we think about how to get it out there and to engage.  The process is fun, exciting, and important to society. I think of myself as a personal coach, and I know it’s gone well when the scientists I am working with feel excited and empowered to keep at it long after our work is done – even though there can be challenges along the way.”

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

Diving The Uttermost Ends Of The Ocean


The Story Behind the Story of My LA Times Sunday Travel Piece

In Sunday’s travel section of the Los Angeles Times, I wrote about a scuba diving expedition to the Forgotten Islands of Indonesia – a place so far flung it took us four days travel to get home. For all 15 of us on this journey, it was a life experience, and, for most of us, a reaffirmation of why we work toward conservation.

The backstory is that Ed Norton Sr. (the father of the actor), an environmental lawyer, businessman and conservationist and his wife Anne Norton who live in Bali, chartered a 100-foot schooner to take a group of conservationists and business folk interested in sustainability to islands so remote, that in some cases, Westerners had not been there for over 20 years.

The trip had dual purposes: To explore the state of the reefs and learn about the communities living on these islands, as well as to have the adventure of a lifetime diving three to four times daily and making something of the experience in our respective ways. A key asset to our trip was Larry Fisher, our cultural guide and an expert in resource conflict mediation, and the official translator for heads of state (including President Obama) visiting Indonesia. [Read more…]

3/8/13 Link Round-Up

Photo courtesy of 'Ravages' via Flickr.

The recent announcement that the New York Times is cancelling its Green blog may not have come as a surprise after their environmental desk closed earlier this year, but it’s still sparking a huge debate within COMPASS and elsewhere.  We’d love to hear your thoughts on this shift in journalism and environmental coverage!

Here are some other interesting developments that caught our eye this week: [Read more…]

Blogging, Science Online, And ScienceOnline

MailChimp Graphic

“Find your voice, find your niche, find your community. And don’t forget why you got started.”

This powerful advice was the closing note of last week’s ScienceOnlineSeattle event on science blogging.

ScienceOnlineSeattle is a monthly discussion series devoted to exploring all the ways in which the internet and social media are changing the nature of how we do and share science. February’s session was devoted to the art of blogging, and I was thrilled to moderate an outstanding panel of science and environment bloggers featuring Alan Boyle of Cosmic Log, Brendan DeMelle of DeSmogBlog, Sandra Porter of DigitalBio, and Adrienne Roehrich of Double X Science. Together we explored the hows and whys of the work involved in maintaining a successful blog. The conversation began with introductions and getting to know the people behind the personas, moved into the craft and mechanics of blogging, and ended on big picture questions. We shared resources, named favorites in the blogosphere, and discussed the challenges and what ultimately keeps us going through the tough spots. But it wasn’t just about the information the featured panelists had to share… [Read more…]