About Us: Karmel James

Karmel greeting freshmen as an RA at University of Mary Washington's orientation week.

Karmel James is COMPASS’ coordinator, a role she describes as part stagehand and part helmsman. She says, “I work behind the curtain to make sure that the COMPASS experience is great for everyone we interact with. I manage the logistics of events and scheduling, and ensure that our DC office is running smoothly and on course.”

Karmel’s work at COMPASS is the latest chapter in her commitment to making science understood and embraced by non- scientists, a commitment that began with the science “magic shows” she performed at libraries to make science exciting and accessible for kids and their parents. Karmel says, “My goal is to show how science is not only important, it’s familiar. The principles and values that guide science are ones that we use everyday as we make decisions about what to do, what to buy, etc. And what I love about working at COMPASS is that we work not just with one specific issue, but towards a larger goal of ensuring that science is even more widely used and appreciated.” [Read more…]

Back To School

A crisp notebook and a fresh box of No.2's used to be all you needed to tackle the school year. As a grad student or faculty member,  you need a different set of tools to navigate the challenges of academic life.  Photo by Wirawat Lian-udom on Flickr.

The long hot days of summer are turning to the brief and – here in Oregon – soggy days of fall. For grad students and faculty alike it’s a return to the hectic rush of the academic year. We have compiled a list of COMPASS blog posts that can help those of us headed back to school… [Read more…]

About Us: Megan Dearden

Megan Hiking in Gunung Bromo, Java, Indonesia.

Megan Dearden is COMPASS’ Administrative Assistant. Megan provides administrative support across the COMPASS team and for a variety of projects, including the upcoming Wilburforce Fellowship in Conservation Science. She says, “I focus on the details to ensure that the logistics of COMPASS’ programs run smoothly and efficiently.” Megan joined the team earlier this year and she’s excited to support COMPASS’ mission.  “I’ve always been fascinated by societies’ organizations and institutions, and I’m grateful to be able to see first-hand how COMPASS works to bridge the gap between science and society at large.”

A bit more about Megan… [Read more…]

Announcing The Wilburforce Fellowship In Conservation Science


COMPASS and Wilburforce Foundation are excited to launch the Wilburforce Fellowship in Conservation Science. The fellowship aims to build a community of scientists who do decision-relevant research, communicate scientific findings effectively, and contribute to conservation solutions by engaging with local communities, policymakers, land managers, advocates, and others. It’s open to scientists of diverse affiliations and career stages working in conservation biology, ecology, environmental economics, or traditional ecological knowledge within Wilburforce’s priority geographic regions. Fellows will participate in a week of training in science communication, leadership and engagement at the Wilburforce Greenfire Campus in Seattle and receive coaching and support throughout the following year to assist them in achieving their goals.

We spoke with our Executive Director, Brooke Smith, and Wilburforce Program Officer for Conservation Science, Amanda Stanley, to learn more about the fellowship, the collaboration, and who should apply. [Read more…]

About Us: Sarah Sunu

Sarah at the shore in Beaufort, North Carolina.

Sarah Sunu is COMPASS’ Research Assistant. She’s involved in several projects – from science and policy sleuthing to helping us learn more about how we can better serve the scientists we work with. If her name looks familiar, it’s because Sarah was an intern for our DC office in 2009. She’s now in the Portland office, continuing to support COMPASS’ work.

Sarah was excited to rejoin COMPASS because, as she puts it, “The gap between public perception and scientific knowledge about the environment made the things I learned in science courses feel like hidden truths. Outside of the science world, most people didn’t seem to understand, or be aware of, the impacts our choices were having on the world around us. My early experiences in the arts and communication primed me to seek ways to help get science out there so that people could make informed decisions.” [Read more…]

About Us: Erin Moomey

Erin in Angkor Watt.

Erin Moomey is our Operations Manager and the author of last year’s blog post on how COMPASS selects new projects. She describes her role at COMPASS as, “a combination of connecting programs with operations (i.e. making sure we get i’s dotted and t’s crossed in the least bureaucratic way possible) and problem solving.”

Erin says, “I’ve always been a holistic thinker. My education is in peace and conflict studies, which incorporates perspectives from all across the social sciences (and literature) to gain a better understanding of our social ecosystems.  That’s similar to COMPASS’ approach of breaking down disciplinary silos or institutional silos, to build a more complete picture, so we can make more informed decisions.”

[Read more…]

About Us: Heather Mannix


COMPASS has welcomed a number of new folks to our team recently, and so we’re reviving our “About Us” series to introduce them. This week’s focus is Heather Mannix. Heather is our Science Engagement Specialist, and the author of a recent blog post on the role of boundary organizations.

At COMPASS, Heather works to connect science and scientists to relevant policy conversations. Heather’s experience working with U.S. and international policy motivated her to work for an organization that bridges the boundary between science and policy. She says, “I saw firsthand the value that science had for policy decisions but also that there are times when the mechanisms to share science can fail for reasons unrelated to the quality of the information – you really do need a guide to navigate the boundary. Learning this motivated me to work in a way that recognizes how important the mechanisms are, and that those opportunities to share science have to be well crafted.”

More about Heather …

[Read more…]