Our Stories: Scott Doney

We often blog here with brief updates or reflections on our work, while our website provides examples and descriptions of what we do. Over the coming weeks, we are excited to share a series of our stories, focused on longer timelines and richer details. We hope you enjoy!

Dr. Scott Doney, of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

Our first story highlights one of the most rewarding, and enjoyable, aspects of our work: building relationships with scientists and supporting them as they surpass our (and their own!) best hopes.

As a Leopold Leadership Fellow in 2004, Dr. Scott Doney gamely participated in one of our trainings. He drafted his Message Box, sweated through his mock interview scenarios, and learned about journalism and policymaking. As a marine chemist, he thought that the policy work seemed interesting but unlikely. “I thought, this is all well and good for other folks, but I’ll never get asked. I would have never guessed, sitting in the training doing the testimony, that that would be me one day.”

In fact, his Message Box work in that initial Leopold training had already set him on that path. Although it was only one of several issues he studied, he had chosen to focus on a little-known phenomenon called ocean acidification. It caught the attention of journalist trainer Sarah Simpson of Scientific American. With her as his editor, he went on to write “The Dangers of Ocean Acidification”, one of the first popular articles on the topic. The message, as the title suggests, was clear.

“You’re an expert on this really narrow slice of the world, so you’re hesitant to speak outside of that,” Scott says. However, his article caught the attention of Representative Jay Inslee, who reached out to COMPASS to organize a briefing for members of Congress. What had been a troubling chemistry problem was elevated to a policy question, “…and it snowballed,” Scott says.

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About Liz Neeley

Liz was an Assistant Director of Science Outreach at COMPASS.

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