By Kristen Weiss
Thousands of scientists, researchers, policymakers and educators converged in New Orleans from February 21-26 for the 2016 Ocean Sciences Meeting. Among them were six Center for Ocean Solutions staff, plus several more affiliated researchers and visiting fellows, who helped lead a number of successful interdisciplinary events throughout the meeting. The wider Stanford community was also well represented. Faculty from Stanford's Woods Institute for the Environment and Hopkins Marine Station included Kevin Arrigo, Jeff Koseff, Steve Palumbi, Rob Dunbar, Stephen Monosmith and Fiorenzo Micheli, who presentied on a range of key ocean science topics including coastal hydrodynamics and plankton physiology to climate and acidification impacts on ocean organisms.
Throughout the event, COS had the opportunity to demonstrate important achievements in linking science to policy for ecosystem based management, and the critical role of forming interdisciplinary teams to resolve key ocean challenges. We also provided several venues for bringing together individuals from all career stages with a diversity of professional backgrounds, creating rich opportunities for conversation and relationship building. Below are some examples of how COS successfully engaged at this year’s Ocean Sciences Meeting:
Rebecca Martone presents in the policy session.
Meeting sessions—how science can impact policy
COS Assistant Director for Law and Policy Ashley Erickson co-chaired three sessions at the Ocean Sciences Meeting, all of which highlighted projects that are focused on linking ocean science to policy decision-making, particularly through an ecosystem-based management lens. Both the session chairs and the presenters represented a range of disciplines and backgrounds, emphasizing the interdisciplinary nature of ocean management. Many of the presenters showcased innovative approaches to solving environmental challenges, from banning microplastics in the Baltic Sea to re-designing shipping lanes off the coast of California.
In the first session, COS Visiting Fellow Whit Saumweber presented with Erica Goldman of COMPASS on the current political climate surrounding national ocean policy and ways forward to implementation. COS Assistant Director of Science and Research Becca Martone presented COS’s EcoPrinciples Connect, a tool co-produced with a California government agency to incorporate ecological principles into coastal management.
Many of the presenters stressed the importance of good science communication (targeted both at policy makers and the public), co-production of solutions with key stakeholders (e.g., agencies, industry representatives) and an integrated, interdisciplinary approach to science and management.
The session co-chairs have recently completed a summary of these three sessions that will be published in the upcoming ASLO Limnology & Oceanography Bulletin as a way to share the knowledge exchanged at the conference with those were unable to participate.
COMPASS Science & Policy Roundtable and Reception
COMPASS hosted a Science & Policy Roundtable on February 25th as a side meeting to take advantage of the great gathering of science and policy representatives gathered in New Orleans for the Ocean Sciences Meeting. Five COS staff members participated in this invigorating, all-day Roundtable whose goal was to identify clear opportunities and pathways for emerging science to inform ocean governance. Attendees included academic and federal agency scientists as well as agency managers and policymakers.
By the end of the day, the roundtable participants had highlighted a number of key points of entry for science to influence ocean policy at the federal level, and discussed next steps for strengthening connections between scientific researchers and policymakers. That evening, COS and COMPASS co-hosted a Science & Policy reception, welcoming the roundtable participants as well as presenters from the Ocean Sciences Meeting sessions described above and other colleagues working in the science-policy interface. COS Science Director Larry Crowder and COMPASS Managing Director Karen McLeod gave the welcoming remarks. The reception was a rewarding way to build upon the days’ earlier conversations, providing a chance for guests to mingle and connect in an informal atmosphere. The conversations lasted late into the evening, and we hope that a number of new connections will continue to blossom as a result.
In mid-May, Assistant Director for Law and Policy Ashley Erickson was invited to a follow-up from the February roundtable. This Ocean Science Policy Roundtable discussion was hosted by the White House Council on Environmental Quality in Washington, D.C., to further discuss streamlining federal efforts on ecosystems services, ecosystem-based management, and climate resilience. The meeting explored the potential value of integrating these approaches, including ways to incorporate key scientific concepts, such as ocean tipping points, cumulative impacts, and linked social-ecological systems into policy at the federal level.
MARINE Early Career Multidisciplinary Mixer
MARINE (Monterey Area Research Institutions’ Network for Education), COS’s professional development program for emerging ocean leaders, hosted the Early Career Multidisciplinary Mixer which brought together students, early career professionals and seasoned ocean authorities for an evening of dynamic conversation and networking. Facilitated by COS Education Manager Laura Good, the mixer was an instant success—registration filled up completely, and the range of participants was impressive. Graduate students (and even a few undergraduate students, high schoolers, and younger!) represented institutions from across the U.S. and internationally, and professionals heralded from universities, NGOs, federal government agencies and more. It was inspiring to witness the number of new connections and cross-disciplinary conversations that occurred during the event.
Laura Good presents at poster session.
Good and Science Early Career Fellow Mike Squibb both presented posters at the Ocean Sciences Meeting. Good’s poster, titled Engaging Ocean Grads As Interdisciplinary Professional Problem Solvers, focused on the importance of inspiring ocean graduate students to look beyond their academic learning to other opportunities that can help them be better prepared for solving the complex challenges facing our oceans.
Squibb presented the poster Quantifying temporal and spatial variability of nearshore processes around a nearshore kelp forest rocky reef with the KFA cabled observatory which featured the capabilities of our Kelp Forest Array and how it is helping us better understand the physical and ecological processes affecting Monterey Bay.
The investment of COS’s interdisciplinary expertise and resources in this year’s OSM lead to rewarding outcomes. The engagement was a great opportunity to create new connections and strengthen existing ones while making the case for the importance of taking an interdisciplinary approach to environmental problem-solving.