San Francisco, image by Michael Craven (CC BY 2.0).

Next week, over 2,200 scientists will come together in San Francisco, CA for the Society for Marine Mammalogy’s 21st Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals—and this year, they will be joined by an impressive group of fourteen journalists. These journalists have been awarded COMPASS travel fellowships to attend the conference and be a part of an intense week of engaging with scientists, hearing the latest research about marine mammals as sentinels of ocean issues, and ultimately sharing these stories with the wider world. [Read more…]

Learning By Doing: Insights From Meetings With Decision-Makers


The conference room this past Sunday was full of nervous excitement, tinged with the tiredness that comes from a long day. Chad English and I had just spent an afternoon with the Switzer Environmental Fellows, practicing and preparing for their meetings with decision-makers in the morning. It was the wrap up of a two-month process, and the first time that many of them had shared their research in the context of policy.  As the fellows filtered out of the room, we answered lots of questions, from complicated ones about the role of advocacy in science advising, to more straightforward ones about what to wear and how long it would take to get to the meeting.
[Read more…]

“Escape From The Ivory Tower” e-Book Sale!


Escape from the Ivory Tower-2


This week only, Island Press is hosting a sale on the e-book versions of many popular titles including Nancy Baron’s “Escape from the Ivory Tower: A Guide to Making Your Science Matter.” The book is a great resource for scientists engaging with the media and policymakers, and is standard reading for all participants of COMPASS trainings and workshops. From now until Monday, August 5th, you can get “Escape” on your digital reader for just $4.99 (usually $27.99!) – be sure to enter SALE at checkout.

2/15/13 Link Round-Up

Photo courtesy of 'Ravages' via Flickr.

It has now been a little bit less than two weeks since the end of the ScienceOnline conference, and the attendees have since moved on to cover other happenings and events.  I’m learning that a unique aspect of the energy and thinking sparked at Science Online is that the ideas and conversation often strengthen in the weeks and months following. No doubt that energy will flow into this week’s AAAS meeting, where many ScienceOnline attendees are now in Boston including several of our own COMPASS members… they are preparing to lead and moderate sessions, live tweeting, and joining colleagues new and old for dinner or drinks (if you’re on Twitter, follow #AAASmtg – trending as we type! – and our COMPASS attendees at @LizNeeley, @KOMcleod, @ChadEnglish, and @GoldmanE). Below we have rounded up some of the continued thinking from ScienceOnline, as well as some other advice on science communication, funding, and more.   [Read more…]

Opportunity In Seat 7D?

Have the middle seat blues?  You never know where a conversation with your neighbor could lead.
Photo courtesy of evoo73 via Fickr.

Last Sunday, in the sleepy pre-dawn hour, Meghan Miner and I caught a cab to Boston’s Logan airport to fly home from the one-day communications workshop that COMPASS held for the east coast Switzer Fellows. Though we were groggy and not terribly talkative ourselves, we couldn’t help being drawn into a conversation started by “Dave the tattooed cab driver,” as he called himself. [Read more…]

I Hear What You’re Saying, But….

At a recent training for Switzer Fellows, participants learned the value of active listening in being a good communicator.

This weekend, Erica Goldman and I traveled to a town outside of Boston to deliver a communications workshop for the 2012 New England Switzer Fellows. The fellows are in the midst of their graduate educations, and have diverse backgrounds – they are law students, representatives of NGOs, interdisciplinary and field scientists – all within the realm of environmental sustainability.

Like many of our workshops, our central message to the participants focused on the importance of understanding your audience when communicating your work. That includes formatting your work into clear and succinct messages, but it’s also about understanding the culture in which your audience exists, so as to make your work relevant to them and what they most care about… their “so what?” [Read more…]

Enter An Elevator With Confidence

Having a prepared and streamlined message ready will help you seize opportunities as they arise!  Photo courtesy of  via Flickr.

Red Cross Phlebotomist: So, do you work here on campus?
Me: Yes.
RCP: What do you do?

I pause.

I don’t know about you, but this is a tough question for me to answer in casual conversation. How much information should I give? How do I really describe my job in a few lines?

Enter: The Elevator Speech. I have only done this once in an elevator, but I frequently have this conversation at social gatherings, the hair salon, while donating blood, etc. I can only imagine you do as well… more often than you may realize.

You can find a multitude of information online detailing how to craft, perfect and deliver elevator speeches, but there is no one tried and true formula. In COMPASS trainings, however, we provide one-on-one coaching for scientists in the art of the short response. We push participants to describe their work in one minute or less in an engaging, informative way by listening and watching the people they’re talking to.

Here are a few of the COMPASS tips that I’ve used to prepare and feel confident in the delivery of my own elevator speech: [Read more…]