6/28/13 Link Round-Up

As the Earth, moon, and sun align to create a “king tide” this week, the East Coast is getting a preview of what normal tides may look like in the face of climate change and rising sea levels. It’s appropriate, then, that President Obama released his climate change action plan on Tuesday. A quick Google search of the plan yields a number of reactions, and we’d love to hear yours in the comments. In the mean time, here are a few other things we’ve been reading at COMPASS this week: [Read more…]

The Inspiration – And Frustration – Of Change

Inspiration doesn't come easy. Photo courtesy of the Gerald W. Williams collection via Flickr.

Last week, I boarded a plane at Washington, DC’s Reagan National Airport headed home to Portland, OR. I sank into my seat, rested my head against the window, and closed my eyes. But as soon as we reached cruising altitude, I couldn’t help but open up my laptop. I had so much I wanted to share with my colleagues and teammates. I was equal parts exhausted and motivated after spending two days at the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) participating in the first gathering of a new Roundtable called “Public Interfaces of the Life Sciences.” ­

I wasn’t sure what to expect. But, I was thrilled that NAS was taking this on given the enthusiasm and controversy surrounding the recent buzz about scientists engaging. Some conversations are about ‘why bother’ engaging. Others on how to engage. And others on initiatives to support better engagement through education reform (like NIH’s Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (BEST) or NSF’s Graduate Education Challenge). Taken together, there’s a lot of momentum out there. [Read more…]

6/21/13 Link Round-Up

Welcome back! Our apologies for missing the link round-up last week in lieu of some much needed behind-the-scenes blog maintenance. We are back up and running and very excited to bring you a round-up of some of the articles and posts that caught our eyes over the past couple of weeks: [Read more…]

Getting To The “So What?” Of Your Science

Galindo MB 2006

Handwritten message box from my own COMPASS training as a graduate student (click to enlarge)

Recently, I rediscovered a description of my PhD research produced at a COMPASS training I attended in 2006. I deciphered my messy handwriting to find that I had used the analogy of how people move between cities to explain why I used DNA to track movements of marine plankton between populations. In both cases, understanding how many and how often individuals change locations can inform what might happen if these connections are disrupted. (Think about a freeway shutting down between San Francisco and Los Angeles.) As movement between places is reduced, so is the flow of goods and services, thereby isolating populations.

It turns out that my early attempts at finding the “so what” of my science used the very same tool that we still use at COMPASS today: The Message Box. At all COMPASS trainings (which typically range from half-day to three-day events), the Message Box is how we help scientists distill their science into the most essential and intriguing pieces. These are the key ideas with which you can build a firm foundation of understanding about your research in conversation with almost any audience. It’s not about dumbing anything down. Instead, the Message Box illuminates the heart of your science and inspires your audience to want to learn more. [Read more…]

Carpe Diem: Two Opportunities For Scientists To Help Shape Federal Policy

Image credit: msciba on Flickr CC-BY2.0

Academic researchers are keen to make their science relevant and to get it into the hands of those who can use it, like policymakers. But it is often hard for scientists to identify the right time and place to engage in a particular policy discussion.

For researchers who work on water, ecosystem restoration, climate adaptation, and ecosystem services, there are two opportunities unfolding right now. First, the White House wants input on the implementation of the newly revised Principles and Guidelines for Water and Land Related Resources Implementation Studies ­­­­– known inside the acronym-loving Beltway as the P&G. Second, the Department of Commerce is seeking feedback on the Draft Initial Comprehensive Plan for restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. [Read more…]

6/7/13 Link Round-Up

In celebration of World Oceans Day (June 8), there were many events this week focused on educating and informing people about our oceans (such as Capitol Hill Ocean Week). In this link round-up we feature resources highlighting the importance of education through science communication and how social media can play a part: [Read more…]

The Science Of Science Communication: Foundation-building With Fischhoff


Like people, some science papers age gracefully, some plunge all at once into a sudden decline, while a rare few carry on unencumbered by the years, spry and punchy as ever. When I’m asked to recommend a single paper in science communication, it’s one of these seemingly ageless ones that I suggest: Fischhoff (1995). [Read more…]