Giving Thanks


It’s the time of year when many of us pause to take stock of all that we’re grateful for. Behind every effective communicator, there are inspiring teachers, careful editors, constructive critics, generous mentors, and enthusiastic cheerleaders. This year, we asked the COMPASS team to share their thanks for those who helped them along their communications path. [Read more…]

5/24/13 Link Round-up

Photo courtesy of 'Ravages' via Flickr.

We’re rounding the bend to Memorial Day and the kickoff of summer – it’s the season of long sunny days, spending time outdoors, and evening campfire gatherings with s’mores and storytelling. Karen McLeod recently attended a science writing workshop in Santa Fe and shared her experience learning the art of written story in this week’s post; she also included helpful tips for around the campfire and beyond. Here are a few of our favorite links this week: [Read more…]

2/1/13 Link Roundup

Happy Friday, link roundup readers! This week we had two great posts go up on the COMPASSblog: One by Erica Goldman on the pains and rewards of transitioning away from a traditional science career, and another by Brooke, announcing an opportunity for someone who’s already taken the plunge (transitioning from science to business) to help us navigate new boundaries. If you know an MBA student who would be great for this position, let us know by emailing Brooke ASAP at [email protected] [Read more…]

Navigating Forks In The Science Career Road

Sometimes the relationship between advisor and student is more similar to parent/child than student/teacher. To leave the path of straight academia that the advisor chose for themselves can be alienating.

The realization that I might not want a traditional career in academic science started as a slight nagging feeling that wouldn’t go away. I didn’t want it to be true. After all, I had already invested so much in academia. And, more importantly, many eminent scientists throughout my undergraduate and graduate training had already invested so much in me. How could I let them down? [Read more…]

1/18/13 Link Round-Up

Photo courtesy of 'Ravages' via Flickr.

Is January turning into the busiest month on record for everyone, or just COMPASS and those we interact with? There are so many exciting meetings and events on the horizon it’s hard to keep everything straight! In our moments of needing a breather, here are a few of the links, postings, and other articles that we followed this week: [Read more…]

Meaningful Change Is Not For The Timid: A COMPASS Perspective On Jane Lubchenco


This post was originally posted on 13 Dec., 2012.

COMPASS co-founder Jane Lubchenco announced this week that she will leave her position as administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) at the end of February.  She will return to her home on the West Coast and resume her life in academia, and with her family.  She is the first woman and first marine ecologist to ever run the science-based agency dedicated to understanding changes in climate, weather, and the oceans, and sustaining coastal and marine resources. Her departure comes exactly four years after she received an unexpected telephone call from the White House asking her to join President Obama’s new team in Washington, D.C.  The call came while she was in Australia on a trip that combined intertidal research with a family holiday – not unusual for scientists who love their work. She flew to Chicago to meet with President-Elect Obama and accepted his invitation to be part of his ‘Science Team.’   With her family’s encouragement, she chose to take the leap — from scientist to policymaker.

I’ve known Jane Lubchenco since the early days of COMPASS in 2000 and witnessed her continuous evolution as a leader. Along the way, we’ve shared many a glass of wine and deep discussions.  In an email to me reflecting on her decision, she showed her true grit. “It is both thrilling and daunting. It’s also surreal right now,” she wrote. “But this seems like an unparalleled opportunity for science, for oceans, for climate. It’s not clear how much I can accomplish, but I am willing to try.” [Read more…]

Reflections From The Backcountry

COMPASS' Director of Science, Karen McLeod, went for a hike around Diamond Peak in Oregon.  While looking at the majestic mountain's reflection in a nearby lake, she did some serious reflecting herself... on how scientists can begin to help tackle some of the world's biggest issues. 
Photo by Brock McLeod

Last week, as I backpacked around Diamond Peak in Oregon, I reflected on how to navigate the seemingly insurmountable mountain of challenges we face as a global society: guaranteeing food security for generations to come, protecting our homes and communities from storms and fires, and ensuring that there is sufficient water to drink, nourish our crops, and allow biodiversity to thrive… all in the midst of a changing climate. How can scientists as individuals, and as a community, more effectively contribute to tackling these big, thorny issues? [Read more…]

Beyond Crunching Data: The Power Of Ideas

Am I a scientist? I have a Ph.D. in ecology, but I don’t do primary research. In the eyes of some of my scientist-colleagues, I’m not the real deal. As the Director of Science for COMPASS, my job is to harness the power of the collective voice of science. Ideas that have the power not only to inform, but to transform conversations, especially in the policy arena. Doing synthesis is doing science. So, of course I am a scientist

Mosaics – so much greater than the sum of their parts

What does synthesis mean to me? To some, synthesis means data crunching and meta-analysis, and these are both powerful and much-lauded aspects of science synthesis. But there’s also another dimension: conceptual synthesis. By weaving individual threads of scientific ideas together, we can step back to look at the whole tapestry. And by stepping back, we sometimes see something we had not seen before – a whole new picture. Can we describe that new picture in a compelling way that resonates with audiences we’re trying to reach? Does it get us any closer to answering “so what?”

A recent symposium at NCEAS (National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis) brought together la crème de la crème of the ecological science community to reflect on NCEAS’ contributions over the past 15 years and to construct a vision for the future – NCEAS 2.0. In an inspiring keynote, Jane Lubchenco emphasized the importance of science in service to society. “Relevance is not a 4-letter word,” she said.  Science can be both relevant to real-world issues and cutting-edge. [Read more…]