Public Affairs Program: Science for Policy and Policy for Science
ESA’s Public Affairs Office manages the Society’s public policy and media initiatives. Working closely with its elected leadership, we facilitate opportunities for members to engage beyond the scientific community through media contacts, press releases, social media, briefings, and one-on-one meetings with policymakers.
Every year, ESA engages in science policy to inform policy affecting the ecological community and fosters support for research and STEM education. ESA broadens its impact by joining with other scientific associations through membership in coalitions: Biological Ecological Sciences Coalition, Climate Science Working Group, Coalition for National Science Funding,- USGS Coalition, NDD United, National Environmental Coalition on Invasive Species.
Working with ESA President Monica Turner, staff developed and distributed 26 ESA letters addressing issues and regulations. Topics ranged from federal funding for scientific research to advocating for the United Nations General Assembly to recognize 2020 as an “International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists.”
Policy Updates and Analyses
Every two weeks, a succinct Policy News Update is available to members summarizing relevant federal policy issues. Through the Intersociety Working Group for the past few decades, ESA and the American Institute of Biological Sciences pen the Biological and Ecological Sciences chapter analyzing the president’s FY 2017 budget request to Congress. The entire report is published in print and online by AAAS.
Providing Opportunities for ESA Members to Engage in Policy
Graduate Student Policy Award
The Biological Ecological Sciences Coalition, co-chaired by ESA and the American Institute of Biological Sciences, brought six ESA Graduate Student Policy Award (GSPA) winners and 24 other young scientists to Washington DC for meetings with their US Representative and Senators. The ESA 2016 GSPA recipients are Brian Kastl (University of California), Kristen Lear (University of Georgia), Matthew Pintar (University of Mississippi), Timothy Treuer (Princeton University), Jessica Nicole Welch (University of Tennessee), and Samantha Lynn Werner (University of New Hampshire). Prior to the Capitol Hill meetings, participants received communication training and an overview of the federal budget process.
With all BESC participant-teams combined, teams met with 60 congressional offices to ask for their support for $8 billion for the National Science Foundation (NSF) in Fiscal Year 2017. They highlighted how federal investment in scientific research, specifically related to NSF’s biological sciences directorate, benefits the communities the lawmakers represent.
Coalition for National Science Funding Capitol Hill Exhibition
ESA joined 37 organizations to participate in the 22nd Annual Exhibition and Reception of the Coalition for National Science Funding (NSF) on Capitol Hill, entitled “Investments in STEM Research and Education: Fueling American Innovation.” This year’s exhibit coincided with the Graduate student Policy Award date, so the students represented ESA. In preparation, they created fact sheets about how NSF funding supports their research and benefits society.
2016 GSPA winners pictured with NSF Director France Cordova. Back Row, left to right: Brian Kastl (University of California), Kristen Lear (University of Georgia), Timothy Treuer (Princeton University), Matthew Pintar (University of Mississippi), Front Row, left to right: Samantha Lynn Werner (University of New Hampshire), Jessica Nicole Welch (University of Tennessee), and NSF Director France Cordova.
Climate Science Hill Day
For the second year, ESA members participated in Climate Science Day (CSD). The annual education and outreach event is sponsored by the Climate Science Working Group (CSWG), of which ESA is a member along with other scientific associations. The goal is to advance understanding of climate science research with lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
On February 11, CSD teams from various societies met with over 100 House and Senate offices and congressional committee staff. Meetings with freshman Senate and House members were prioritized along with lawmakers who serve on committees with jurisdiction over climate science. ESA member participants included Matthew Hurteau (University of New Mexico), Knute Nadelhoffer (University of Michigan), and Adam Rosenblatt (Yale University). All three are seasoned veterans of Capitol Hill.
Media and Community Outreach
ESA works to bring the research presented in our meetings and journals to the attention of journalists through in-house press releases and tipsheets and collaboration with press offices at the home institutions of our authors and members.
Selected press releases from August 2015- August 2016.
Public participation in scientific research has surged in popularity and prominence in recent years through the connections of the world wide web, an explosion of smartphone pocket computing power, and a slow cultural change within professional science toward a more open and welcoming research environment. To help guide program managers in deciding if citizen science is right for their organizations and how best to design citizen science projects to meet their organization’s goals, the Ecological Society of America (ESA) has released a report today summarizing how “Investing in Citizen Science can improve natural resource management and environmental protection.”
The US Endangered Species Act can protect more species, more effectively, through expanded partnerships and science-driven implementation ecologists say in the Winter 2016 edition of Issues in Ecology
Species recovery in the United States: increasing the effectiveness of the Endangered Species Act. Daniel M. Evans, Judy P. Che-Castaldo, Deborah Crouse, Frank W. Davis, Rebecca Epanchin-Niell, Curtis H. Flather, R. Kipp Frohlich, Dale D. Goble, Ya-Wei Li, Timothy D. Male, Lawrence L. Master, Matthew P. Moskwik, Maile C. Neel, Barry R. Noon, Camille Parmesan, Mark W. Schwartz, J. Michael Scott, and Byron K. Williams. Issues in Ecology #20, Winter 2016. [pdf]
A special Centennial Issue of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment explores ecological innovations for infrastructure in the face of climate change. The November 2015 Special Issue on Innovations in the face of climate change examines innovations big and small, from massive technological installations like Rotterdam’s proposed next generation Dutch Windwheel to municipal planning and the individual construction and land use choices of city residents.
“Cities are emergent systems, with only 5 to 7 thousand years of history, mostly during the relative climatic stability of the Holocene,” said guest editor Kristina Hill, an associate professor at UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design. “We’ve never tried to operate a city during a rapid climate change, especially not on the scale of population we now have, with our largest cities housing upwards of 20 million people.”
Public release of a 20-year collaborative effort to devise a unified and consistent national reporting system for plant communities opens new avenues for broad-scale and long-term analyses of landscape change.
The Ecological Society of America’s (ESA) Panel on Vegetation Classification has worked to ensure the scientific rigor of the classification and facilitate the classification’s development, collaborating with NatureServe, the U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Geological Survey to form a U.S. National Vegetation Classification partnership. These agencies, along with the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and others, continue to fund ongoing peer-reviewed revisions.
As the land at the heart of the cradle of civilization dries out, an ancient culture is being lost with the unique ecosystem that sustains it.
Nadia Al-Mudaffar Fawzi, Kelly P. Goodwin , Bayan Mehdi, Michelle L. Stevens (2016) Effects of Mesopotamian Marsh (Iraq) desiccation on the cultural knowledge and livelihood of Marsh Arab women. Ecosystem Health and Sustainability 2(3):e01207. doi: 10.1002/ehs2.1207 Full text open access
The resurgence of Zika virus has raised anxieties about the spread of infectious disease by mosquitoes as the Ecological Society of America heads to southern Florida for its 101st Annual Meeting. Research on mosquito biology and disease transmission will have a strong showing at the meeting Fort Lauderdale, this 7-12 August 2016. Climate change and species invasions are strong themes among this year’s research presentations on infectious disease.
- Is mosquito-borne disease risk heating up with a warming climate?
- Organizing defense forces to hit mosquitoes where they breed
- Luring mosquitoes into honeysuckle traps
- Stressed birds get more mosquito bites—and transmit disease
- An invasive mosquito helps break the spread of a parasite
- The Asian tiger mosquito thrives in New York
- Side effects of mosquito defense: broad spectrum insecticides kill the pollinators of rare native flowers
- Mosquitoes change their temperature preferences when in competition with other mosquito species
- Life cycles, competition, and management
- Battle at the bloodmeal lek
— Ecological Society (@ESA_org) December 1, 2015
— Ecological Society (@ESA_org) February 17, 2016
— Ecological Society (@ESA_org) May 12, 2016
— Ecological Society (@ESA_org) February 19, 2016
— Ecological Society (@ESA_org) February 23, 2016
— Ecological Society (@ESA_org) March 31, 2016
— Ecological Society (@ESA_org) April 25, 2016
— Ecological Society (@ESA_org) July 11, 2016
— Ecological Society (@ESA_org) February 3, 2016
— Ecological Society (@ESA_org) May 24, 2016
Public Affairs Office Staff (August 2015-August 2016)
Director: Alison Mize
Science Policy Analyst: Terence Houston
Public Information Manager: Liza Lester
Public Affairs Committee (August 2015 – August 2016)
Frank Davis: Vice President
Bruce A. Byers
Alexis C. Erwin
Sarah M. Anderson
Monica Turner: President