Finding My Fire On The Ice

The incredible setting for my pond hockey epiphanies -- the sun's afternoon glow on the Absorka Range.
(Photo courtesy of David Thomson)

Nestled in Montana’s Tom Miner Basin just outside of the Yellowstone Park boundary, the pond adjacent to my A-frame cabin beckoned. For weeks, I had been anticipating my ice hockey debut. The Sochi games had just ended. The wounds were still raw from the US women’s hockey team’s devastating loss to Canada for the gold. We had the numbers for a US – Canada rematch (even if it was co-ed). I was certain that somehow my days of playing field hockey and rugby had prepared me sufficiently to take back our country’s honor. Have I mentioned, though, that I can’t skate? [Read more…]

Bright Spots: Richard (Dick) Cannings

Richard Cannings, the NDP Candidate.

 This post is the first in our new Bright Spot series, which celebrates scientists who are leading change.

Biologist Richard (Dick) Cannings is taking a leadership role in a rather unusual way for a scientist. Dick is running for provincial election in Penticton, British Columbia, Canada with the New Democratic Party (NDP) in today’s May 14th provincial election.

Dick, a conservation biologist, and a champion for the conservation of the Okanagan’s ecosystems, has placed environmental sustainability and the quality of life it brings, squarely in the center of his political platform. If he gets in, it will be a landmark win in Canadian politics… [Read more…]

The Top Ten Qualities Of Scientist (Communicator) Leaders

"Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects." Dalai Lama.
Photo courtesy of Mark J P via Flickr

Over the past few weeks, since we published “Navigating the Rules of Scientific Engagement” in PLOS, the voices of scientist communicators have rung out in blog posts – some personal perspectives and others calls to action. Even more chimed in on Twitter under the hashtag #reachingoutsci. These scientist bloggers are as diverse as their topics. I consider every one of them a leader.

Over the past 12 years as a communication trainer for the Leopold Leadership Program, and as a coach for many scientists, I have observed an intrinsic link between communication and leadership. [Read more…]

Diving The Uttermost Ends Of The Ocean


The Story Behind the Story of My LA Times Sunday Travel Piece

In Sunday’s travel section of the Los Angeles Times, I wrote about a scuba diving expedition to the Forgotten Islands of Indonesia – a place so far flung it took us four days travel to get home. For all 15 of us on this journey, it was a life experience, and, for most of us, a reaffirmation of why we work toward conservation.

The backstory is that Ed Norton Sr. (the father of the actor), an environmental lawyer, businessman and conservationist and his wife Anne Norton who live in Bali, chartered a 100-foot schooner to take a group of conservationists and business folk interested in sustainability to islands so remote, that in some cases, Westerners had not been there for over 20 years.

The trip had dual purposes: To explore the state of the reefs and learn about the communities living on these islands, as well as to have the adventure of a lifetime diving three to four times daily and making something of the experience in our respective ways. A key asset to our trip was Larry Fisher, our cultural guide and an expert in resource conflict mediation, and the official translator for heads of state (including President Obama) visiting Indonesia. [Read more…]

11/9/12 Link Round-Up

On Tuesday, President Obama was re-elected as the 44th President of the United States. No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, one thing that is not up for debate is Hurricane Sandy’s devastating trail. Many still have no power, and a second storm this week brought snow to parts of the already-affected area. These events have fueled ongoing discussion over interconnected environmental and societal issues. While COMPASS continues to send our thoughts to those in need, we are also cognizant that, in light of these recent events, our own move to expand topically beyond oceans could not be more relevant and necessary. Below are a few articles and postings that caught our attention this week:

Photo courtesy of ‘Ravages’ via Flickr.

[Read more…]

Tasty, Tasty Humble Pie

When asked to give a Congressional briefing on ecological resilience, author Chad English thought it couldn't be done.  A successful briefing a few months later forced him to eat some humble pie.  Photo courtesy of stevendepolo via Flickr.

Two weeks after I started at COMPASS, I found myself in a conference room getting to know all of my new colleagues face-to-face for the first time.  At one point Karen McLeod, COMPASS’ Director of Science, asked me when we could organize a Congressional briefing on the topic of ecological resilience.

Resilience is a deceptively simple concept on the surface. A resilient ecosystem can withstand shocks and rebuild itself. This applies to any ecosystem, but in the marine realm, coral reefs are one of the best studied. A resilient coral reef can be partially wiped out by bleaching and bounce back to a vibrant state in short order. A less resilient coral reef might not be able to weather bleaching and be overtaken by algae.

As the newest member of the team, I was nervous about my answer to Karen’s question: Never. [Read more…]