Society For Marine Mammalogy Conference 2015 (SMM 2015) Journalist Fellowship

Join us at the 21st Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals!

We are excited to announce that COMPASS is hosting travel fellowships for journalists to attend the 21st Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, hosted by the Society for Marine Mammalogy in San Francisco this December! The conference will bring together approximately 2,500 top marine mammal scientists and managers to investigate the theme of Marine Mammal Conservation in a Changing World: Bridging the Past Towards the Future. The role of marine mammals as heralds of changing ecosystems and casualties of the consequences of human actions will be explored through workshops, plenaries, and presentations on topics ranging from climate and changing oceans to effective marine spatial planning.

We believe that the opportunities that conferences provide for in-person interactions between scientists and journalists are invaluable. But many times, journalists are unable to attend due to budget constraints. Our goal with this fellowship is to support journalist participation from a broad range of backgrounds and mediums – freelancers to editors, print to multimedia – and to weave them into the fabric of the conference so they can make as many connections as possible. Our hope is that the relationships formed between the journalists and scientists through this fellowship will yield long-term benefits for both, as new ideas are explored and new questions are asked.

To jump-start this process and integrate journalists into the conference, we will introduce the journalist fellows as a group and individually at a variety of formal and informal events, designing numerous opportunities for them to mingle with scientists and hear more about their work.

On Monday, Dec. 14th, we will moderate a dynamic and engaging plenary titled “How to Make Your Science Matter,” at which the journalist fellows will be introduced. This lively, moderated panel discussion will explore how marine mammal scientists and managers can apply their knowledge and research, using communication and engagement, to bridge the past toward a healthy future for marine mammals and ocean ecosystems. Leading scientists and journalists will share their insights on engagement and advice for success.


Click here for a downloadable PDF.


  • Jane Lubchenco, U.S. Science Envoy for the Ocean
  • Nick Gales, President of the Society for Marine Mammalogy
  • Marcia McNutt, Editor-in-Chief, Science
  • Charles Littnan, Lead Scientist, Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Project at NOAA Fisheries
  • Ken Weiss, Independent Journalist, Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting
  • David Malakoff, Deputy News Editor, Science Magazine

Moderator: Nancy Baron, Director of Science Outreach, COMPASS

The following reception from 5 – 7 p.m. will also kick off the SMM 2015 Journalist Fellowship, encouraging relationships between journalists and scientists and increased coverage of important marine topics. SMM 2015 Journalist Fellows will also participate in a Tuesday Media Mixer and a Tuesday lunchtime workshop for scientists to practice pitching their stories. COMPASS staff will also assist in making personal introductions throughout the conference.

This is an exciting opportunity to dive deeper into topics of marine conservation and ecology, and we hope to see you there. For ongoing updates on conference activities, follow @marinemammalogy and #MARMAM15, or visit the conference website.

Fellowships will be awarded to reporters, editors, and science writers from print, broadcast, and online outlets. Award amounts will be based on point of origin and need. Our focus will be on journalists from North America due to funding constraints, but our funding may allow for some financial assistance for eligible applicants from Asia or Mexico.

To apply, email [email protected] by Friday, September 11, 2015 with:
1. Brief cover letter including: why you would like to attend SMM 2015, which theme(s) you hope to pursue, and your intended outlet(s) and audience(s).
2. A brief résumé or CV (link is fine).
3. Three published clips or samples of your work (URLs, PDFs, or multimedia files are fine).
4. Complete contact information, including email, phone number, and mailing address. Please include blog and website URLs, Twitter username(s), and social media profiles as appropriate.


Can I attend the AGU conference happening in San Francisco while I’m an SMM 2015 Journalist Fellow?
No. While supported by the fellowship, journalists are expected to remain at the SMM 2015 conference.

What expenses does the fellowship cover?
COMPASS will work with fellows to make specific determinations. In general, we will reimburse or directly pay for economy class airfare or gas mileage, hotel accommodations for four nights, and no more than $50/day in meals. We require receipts for all expenses.

What other journalist fellowships has COMPASS hosted?
This is our seventh fellowship. COMPASS has hosted journalist fellowships to support reporters covering the 2014 North American Congress for Conservation Biology, the 2001 and 2008 International Coral Reef Symposia, the 2009 and 2011 International Marine Conservation Congresses, and the 2012 Third International Symposium on the Ocean in a High CO2 World.

When will you announce the fellowship recipients?
The deadline for submission is September 11th. We will announce the recipients in late September.

Additional questions? Please contact Sarah Sunu at sarah.sunu at

About Sarah Sunu

Sarah Sunu is a Program Associate at COMPASS, supporting the team across all of our programs, with an emphasis on research in key areas for our work (including the most recent science on environmental issues and the science of science communication).
When she's not delving into exciting things for COMPASS, she enjoys exploring (particularly parks, marine labs, and the coast), taking pictures, reading, conversing, and making things.

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