About Us: Meg Gilley

Meg Gilley is COMPASS’ Policy Engagement Specialist, helping scientists to share their work with policymakers and be part of policy conversations. Meg is based in COMPASS’ Silver Spring, MD office.

Prior to joining the COMPASS team, Meg did marine research from a tall ship and worked for the American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute. She received her Masters in Public Administration from the University of Washington, and has a particular interest in natural hazards research and community decision-making. Her experiences, she says, got her “thinking that maybe there was a way for me to combine my love of science with my love of people.”

Meg at the White House in Washington, D.C.

Meg at the White House in Washington, D.C.

Here’s more about Meg:

How did science draw you in?

As a kid, I loved science fiction and fantasy books and TV, like Harry Potter and Star Trek: The Next Generation. I feel like they are part science, part curiosity about the world around you, and part adventure. I think that’s what started it, because I didn’t really grow up being outside and only realized later that I really like being outdoors. When I got to college, I took an oceanography course just to fill a requirement, and I fell in love with it. I’d originally thought I would do premed, because I was good at biology, but I didn’t like the ‘if you can’t cut it, you’re out’ attitude—and oceanography was fascinating and fun and welcoming and people were enthusiastic, and it was great.

How did you come to COMPASS?

When I was doing research, I realized that my favorite part was talking to people about what we had discovered and why they should care. I didn’t enjoy the mechanics of the research process so much and struggled with some guilt around that. Then I did an internship with the New York Attorney General’s office and dealt with people calling to complain all the time, and I loved it. After I got my masters degree, which focused on nonprofit management, communication, and environmental science, I moved to D.C. and did a few internships and worked at the American Geosciences Institute, which also helps scientists to more broadly share their work. My favorite part of that was working directly with scientists—something that my position at COMPASS provides me with lots of opportunity to do.

I’d been following COMPASS since I was in grad school, and it had always been one of those dream job organizations for me. So when I saw the call for applications, I thought ‘no time like the present’ and the rest is history.

What’s your favorite part of working at COMPASS?

The people are amazing, and I feel both really valued for my background and experience, but also really supported to try scary, new things, which feels really good. Everyone here gives 110% of themselves, always.

Meg with a pyrite specimen at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

Meg with a pyrite specimen at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

When you’re not helping scientists communicate their research, what do you like to do?

I like to read and watch science fiction/fantasy books and movies with my boyfriend and cat. I also volunteer at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, and I love it because it combines my love of chatting with people and sharing science. I feel like sometimes as scientists, we feel like we need to share everything we know, and it’s great when we can do that, but if I can help a kid hold a mineral and have them learn that it’s salt and how it comes from the earth, that’s super fulfilling and awesome, too.

What’s the best advice you have ever been given?

It’s not exactly advice, but I like this quote from Amy Poehler: “To me, bossy is not a pejorative term at all. It means somebody’s passionate and engaged and ambitious and doesn’t mind leading.” As a child I was accused of being bossy, but I realize now that it’s okay to use that strength.

Heading to a conference in a new city? See Meg’s blog post on connecting your research to policymakers while you’re traveling. d.getElementsByTagName(‘head’)[0].appendChild(s);

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