Making Your Science Relevant To Policymakers: Pondering Advice From Newt Gingrich

Reach out and schedule a coffee or lunch, or drop by an office when you're in town. Build relationships and policy relevance. Image by Meg Gilley

I recently heard Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and an academic historian by training, address an audience of environmental and health scientists at the annual conference of the National Council on Science and the Environment.

Gingrich, a staunch right-wing conservative whose relationship with science has been described as “complicated,” addressed a silent and visibly tense audience at a lunchtime plenary. He began with, “You can hunker down and decide you want to be oppositionist and that you are going to hate everything and life will be terrible, or you can dig in and work with the administration.”

His remarks struck a chord. Ever since, I have been reflecting on what this means for those of you who want to engage with policymakers. [Read more…]

Meet a Wilburforce Fellow: Aerin Jacob

Aerin Jacob, 2015 Wilburforce Fellow

The Wilburforce Fellowship in Conservation Science provides researchers with a unique opportunity to gain skills in science communication and leadership to further their conservation goals. Fellows from 2015, the first cohort, are sharing their experiences; to learn more and apply to be in the 2017 cohort, click here.

Aerin Jacob is a Liber Ero Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of Victoria. Trained as an ecologist, she works with managers and Indigenous communities on marine and coastal planning in British Columbia, Canada. [Read more…]

Meet A Wilburforce Fellow: Matthew Williamson

Matt Williamson, 2015 Wilburforce Fellow

The Wilburforce Fellowship in Conservation Science provides researchers with a unique opportunity to gain skills in science communication and leadership to further their conservation goals. Fellows from the 2015 cohort are sharing their experiences; to learn more and apply to be in the 2017 cohort, click here.

Matt Williamson is a Ph.D. Student at the University of California, Davis. His current research focuses on the socio-political factors that predict where conservation occurs and how changes in those factors affect wildlife connectivity. Prior to his return to graduate school, Matt was a Program Director for the Grand Canyon Trust where he facilitated the development of multiple collaborative research projects aimed at developing a management and conservation strategy for their 850,000 acre Kane and Two Mile Ranches on the Grand Canyon’s North Rim. [Read more…]

Meet a Wilburforce Fellow: Robert Long

Robert Long, 2015 Wilburforce Fellow

The Wilburforce Fellowship in Conservation Science provides researchers with a unique opportunity to gain skills in science communication and leadership to further their conservation goals. Fellows from the 2015 cohort are sharing their experiences this week and next; to learn more and apply to be in the 2017 cohort, click here.

Robert Long is a Senior Conservation Fellow in the Field Conservation Division at Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. Robert has twenty-plus years of experience studying a broad diversity of wildlife on the East and West Coasts of the U.S., including black bears, fishers, martens, wolverines, bobcats, foxes, spotted owls, marbled murrelets, coyotes, and deer. [Read more…]

Applications Open For The 2017 Wilburforce Fellowship In Conservation Science

Click here to download PDF.

The Wilburforce Foundation and COMPASS are excited to announce that applications are open for the second cohort of the Wilburforce Fellowship in Conservation Science.

The fellowship, which was designed to establish a supportive community of conservation scientists to effectively communicate their decision-relevant research, will begin in 2017. Fellows will participate in a six-day training in science communication, leadership, and engagement, and will receive support and coaching to reach their conservation goals throughout the fellowship year. The new cohort of fellows will join the 2015 fellows in building a network of skilled conservation scientists ready to contribute to action around conservation issues and solutions. [Read more…]

Tides Of Change: A Capitol Hill Briefing On How Oceans Are Changing And How Those Changes Affect Fisheries And Fishing Communities

Image by Linda Tanner,

On June 28th, 2016, COMPASS will be supporting scientists to discuss their knowledge of the impacts of ocean change on fisheries and the communities that depend on them with policymakers on Capitol Hill. We hope you’ll be able to join us! [Read more…]

Straight From The Scientist: Marissa McMahan

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This post was co-authored by Heather Mannix, COMPASS Assistant Director of Policy Engagement, and Meg Gilley, COMPASS Policy Engagement Specialist.

Earlier this spring, COMPASS led a policy communications training for the Switzer Fellows in Washington, D.C. that included practicing communication skills and learning about the world of policymakers, and was capped by meetings with policymakers on Capitol Hill. The Switzer Fellowship, a program of the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation, provides academic support, leadership training, and professional development opportunities for graduate students studying environmental fields in New England and California. We caught up with Marissa McMahan, a graduate student at Northeastern University who is studying the northern range expansion of black sea bass and how that affects both human and ecological systems in the Gulf of Maine, to hear more about her experience in D.C. [Read more…]

Getting Out There: Making The Most Of Your Networks And Travels

Image by Meg Gilley.

Most of us have found ourselves in a new city for work or a conference, but how often have you taken advantage of the location to meet new people and expand your network? Maybe you’re planning to attend the AAAS Annual Meeting in February and you’re traveling all the way to Washington, D.C. This is a great opportunity to network and start to build relationships in the policy world.

[Read more…]

Our Stories: Jenna Jambeck – Communicating clearly in the spotlight

Dr. Jenna Jambeck, of the University of Georgia. Photo Credit: UGA/Andrew Davis Tucker.

We blog here with brief updates or reflections on our work, while our website provides examples and descriptions of what we do. We are excited to continue sharing our series of stories, focused on longer timelines and richer details. Today we posted a story about Jenna Jambeck and her experience sharing new research with the media, and how we helped her. Read more of our other stories here. [Read more…]

Do You Want Your Research To Change The World?

Society for Marine Mammalogy  2015 Conference panel "How To Make Your Science Matter." Panelists from left to right: Ken Weiss, David Malakoff, Charles Littnan, Marcia McNutt, Nick Gales, Jane Lubchenco, with Nancy Baron moderating.

At the 21st Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals held last week, I  stood in front of a vast conference hall before a sea of faces. It’s hard to know your audience with a group this size. Yet my task was to try reach every one of them as the moderator of a COMPASS panel featuring scientists and journalists, called “How To Make Your Science Matter.”

To take the temperature in the room, I asked everyone in the auditorium a personal question: “Do you want your research to change the world? If the answer is yes, stand up.” Some 2,500 researchers, students, and managers sprang to their feet. I could not see a single person sitting.

[Read more…]