ScienceOnline Climate


Ah, logistics. WiFi, websites, sponsors, speakers, travel, venues, sound, and food – planning a meeting means dozens of details need constant attention. And yet, if we’ve done our work well, these all fade into the background as an event comes to life. There’s something magical about creating a space for conversations to unfold and genuine connections to take root, and I am delighted to have been a part of what we created at ScienceOnline Climate.

ScioClimate, as we call it, was a conference that took place in Washington, D.C. August 15-17. Thanks to professional development support from COMPASS, I was able to join Jamie Vernon and Karyn Traphagen as a co-organizer. But ScioClimate is not over because it’s much more than just a meeting – it’s a community of people coalescing around issues of how we improve climate science conversations online. Our intent is to go far beyond tactical discussions about how to share research results, and instead to explore the art, science, rhetoric, politics, philosophy, emotion, and practicalities of tackling unprecedented global change.

Nothing sums up my experience at the event better than this tweet by Mark Westneat:

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Why Everybody Needs A Prep Talk

After considerable preparation, Dr. Mark Carr, Dr. Anke Mueller-Solger, and Dan Yparraguirre present their talks on long-term monitoring and adaptive management before an eager audience.

Photo by Chad English.

When people are asked about their greatest fears, many often include public speaking. Something about looking out into a sea of faces hanging on your every word is universally terrifying. However, for me, it is the idea of a practice talk that causes borderline panic – although I’m only looking out into a small pond of faces, they are all intently focused on what I am doing wrong and how to fix it. But here’s the thing: Public talks don’t scare me. Why? Because I am ready. And why am I ready? Because I have worked really hard to prepare.

Whether it’s a legislative briefing or a AAAS symposium, COMPASS requires the scientists we work with to commit to putting in the preparation time. Although we often work with already accomplished speakers, it still takes planning to make sure there is cohesion among multiple talks. After all, even talented musicians must rehearse before playing their first gig together. In the words of UC Santa Cruz marine ecologist Mark Carr, “The COMPASS prep calls prior to our panel presentation really helped to focus the messages of my presentation and linked my presentation with others to make a more cohesive suite of presentations and stronger messages.”

Our prep process generally involves lots of back-and-forth over email, as well as 2-3 conference calls with everyone participating in the event. As we evolve from setting the goals and framing everyone’s talks to dress rehearsals, scientists tend to go through the following three stages: [Read more…]

AAAS 2013 – The Beauty And Benefits Of A Network

The AAAS Meeting will be held in Boston this week. 

Photo of the Boston Skyline courtesy of: Werner Kunz via Flickr.

As Boston digs out from this weekend’s historic nor’easter, the city is experiencing a second, rather different type of accumulation event. As they do every year (though the location varies), thousands of scientists and hundreds of journalists from around the world convene for the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting. This year the theme, “The Beauty and Benefits of Science,” encourages participants to think about not only the aesthetic pleasure of pure understanding, but also the practical value of applied knowledge. If you know us, you know it’s a very appealing theme for COMPASS!

This year, I’ll be attending along with Chad English, Karen McLeod, and Erica Goldman. We’ll be sitting in, and sometimes live-tweeting, sessions on topics ranging from marine spatial planning, food security, and the future of conservation to creative communication tactics and graduate education reform.

This meeting has been a fixture on the COMPASS calendar since 2001 because it offers a great breadth of science topics, making it an excellent complement to the deep disciplinary conferences we attend. Most importantly, it is an unparalleled opportunity to reconnect with friends and colleagues from the media, science, policy and nonprofit worlds. Year after year, our most important task at AAAS is networking. One of our most visible activities, for example, has been our signature Marine Mixer, where countless collaborations, story ideas, and projects have been hatched over the past decade. [Read more…]