Wilburforce Training: The Heart Of The Matter

The 2015 Wilburforce Fellows, with trainers and journalists, at the training in Seattle. From Left to right: back row- David Malakoff, David Mildrexler, Ben Alexander, Chris Parish, Matt Williamson?, Michael Quinn, Brian Harvey; middle row- Michelle Nijhuis, Sergio Avila, Nancy Baron, Melissa Lucash, Jonaki Bhattacharyya, Matt Williamson?, Jeff Burnside, Aerin Jacobs,

Something magical happened at the first training for the Wilburforce Fellowship in Conservation Science two weeks ago. Once again, storytelling revealed its power to inform, to inspire and bring together a group of people focused on a common cause.

The fellowship originated with Amanda Stanley, the Wilburforce Foundation’s Conservation Science Program Officer. When she approached COMPASS to partner with her and Wilburforce and help design the fellowship, we leapt at the chance. Our shared dream is to build a network of conservation scientists who can successfully bridge the science-to-society gap by being strong communicators, leaders, and agents of change. We not only want them to connect to their science in new ways, we want to them to connect to each other, so they can support each other in the inevitable ups and downs that come with tackling big challenges.

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Sleuthing Science: Getting The Lay Of The Land In A New Discipline


One of the things I loved most about being a PhD candidate was the ability to dig deep into the details (I could tell you more about barnacle genetics than anyone really should know). But there are times when it might be necessary to quickly get a handle on a scientific field beyond your own. You might be interested in finding new collaborators for an interdisciplinary project, or need to figure out where your science might fit into a slightly different theme for which there seems to be an abundance of funding opportunities. In either case, trying to assess a new scientific landscape can feel overwhelming…especially when you think about all of the work it took to master understanding of your own field. But there are ways to meet this challenge and also occasionally eat and sleep. In fact, this task of sleuthing a scientific landscape is a big part of what many of us do here at COMPASS. Hopefully, some of our collective lessons learned could make your job a bit easier:

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But What Do We DO With The Science Of Science Communication?


Last week, as I listened to Andy Rosenberg, from the Union of Concerned Scientists, give a seminar about the new Center for Science and Democracy, I tweeted, “What Rosenberg is saying is familiar: science doesn’t tell us what to do, it helps us understand what questions to ask.”

When I hit ‘tweet’ it felt good. It felt right in my bones. And then it hit me.  I had just refuted the premise of this blog post.


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Looking Beyond The Business Card


COMPASS needed to investigate how they might contribute at the boundary of science and business, so naturally they needed someone who knew about synergy – an MBA intern! As a master’s candidate in environmental sciences and business management, I felt well positioned to help COMPASS investigate what they’ve been hearing for awhile now – an unmet need at the intersection of science and business. [Read more…]

5/3/13 Link Round-Up

Our week here at COMPASS began with the excitement of our commentary piece coming out in PLOS Biology, but is ending on an even higher note. Many scientists we’ve worked with are stepping up to share personal stories of engagement. There have been stories of how:

  • Reaching out via both traditional (Don Boesch) and social (Isabelle Côté) media can open up new opportunities for connecting science to policy
  • Future effective engagement of scientists outside academia relies on cultural change regarding time management (Jessica Hellman, Jim Cloern) and restructuring institutional incentives (Chris Buddle)
  • Becoming better at engaging sometimes means leaving the ivory tower for training in another field (Ryan Kelly) or pursuing science at a for-profit company (Dawn Wright)
  • Doing good science and reflecting on what works and what doesn’t is a critical part of the path to engagement (Simon Donner, Heather Leslie)
  • Above all, it is not science alone, but also hope that inspires people to act (Alan Townsend, Steve Palumbi)

You can watch the conversations unfolding on twitter at #reachingoutsci, or see the running list we’re keeping on our kick-off post.

This is part of a growing trend of scientists being willing to be present as characters in the story. Efforts like Looks Like Science or The Secret Life of Scientists & Engineers, highlight how valuable it can be to share personal stories of who we are, why we do what we do, and why it matters. All of us at COMPASS continue to be inspired by these stories and the scientists who share them. And we can’t wait to see what’s next…

Happy Birthday, COMPASSBlog!



Today we celebrate our first year of blogging and our 100th post – no small feat! [Read more…]

Jumping Into The Flames: A Marine Ecologist At A Fire Ecology Conference?

Fire ecology, while very different from marine ecology, has COMPASS' Director of Science, Karen McLeod, all fired up!

I’m in a very familiar place – Portland’s Oregon Convention Center – but drowning in a sea of alien acronyms. In literally every talk (and even at meals!), I’m bombarded by them: FARSITE, FEIS, FLAMMAP, FOFEM, FVS, GYE, IFTDSS, WFAT, WFDS, and my new favorite, WUI (pronounced, woo-ee), or the Wildland Urban Interface. I’m definitely the only marine ecologist here at the International Fire Ecology and Management Congress… at least it’s (sometimes) a useful conversation starter.

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12/7/12 Link Round-Up

Photo courtesy of 'Ravages' via Flickr.

For this week’s link roundup, we’re offering a dose of planetary and environmental perspective. At COMPASS, we’re all about seeing things in new and different ways in order to find new connections across scientific disciplines, and the ways in which science can be used to inform policy. In the spirit of the season, we offer some different big picture views of our world and how we interact with it: [Read more…]

Scientists Weigh In: Impostor Syndrome In A Silo-Busting World

Embracing difference (in this case, naiveté in a specialty) may help you see the forest for the trees.  Photo courtesy of torremountain via Flickr.

When Brooke first shared the news that we were going to spend the next 9 to 12 months exploring what an expanded scope for COMPASS might look like, I reacted with a mix of “wow – just think of the possibilities!” and “holy s#$%!”

The terrified part of me was wrestling with impostor syndrome. There’s a palpable buzz about this phenomenon on Twitter and in the blogosphere, among scientists and beyond. In a nutshell, it’s that nagging fear that we don’t know enough (everyone else knows more!), we’re a phony, a fraud … and sooner or later we’ll be found out. You can learn more in Josh Drew’s recent lecture for graduate students at Columbia University. [Read more…]

Beyond The Sea, Busting Silos For The Future

It's all connected.  Where the ocean meets the land.
Photo courtesy of Gord McKenna via Flickr.

Pop quiz – pick one and only one answer:

Hurricane Sandy is related to: a) weather, b) climate, c) oceans, d) public safety

Ocean acidification is an issue related to: a) oceans, b) carbon, c) agriculture, d) food security

Marine debris is an issue related to: a) oceans, b) consumption, c) population, d) health

Marine aquaculture is an issue related to: a) oceans, b) food security, c) agriculture, d) social equity [Read more…]