New Frontiers in Eco-Communication

Guest post by Clarisse Hart, Outreach and Education Manager at Harvard Forest


Today in the Hyatt hallway, I passed a colleague with an imposing nametag terraced by four colors of ribbon. He is an ESA donor, a moderator, and two other things I can’t recall (possibly a juggler).

This year my nametag has a ribbon, too.

Nametag by Clarrise HartIt’s a regular reminder that even though our science communication workshop (WK 15) is done, my duty to communicate ecology’s stories remains.

The media label has a storied root – medium: an artistic material or form; the happy state between two extremes; the substrate where organisms grow in a lab.

It feels like an encouragement to explore new forms of expression: to try, for example, sketching conference notes as illustrations – a departure from my own writerly toolkit.

Caption: Notes from COS 45 – Ecosystem Services Assessment – by Clarisse Hart

Notes from COS 45 – Ecosystem Services Assessment – by Clarisse Hart.


 WK15 contributor Perrin Ireland, who inspired many of us to try illustration this week, is documenting ESA talks in her polished and shareable way:

Perrin illustrations


And the trend is catching on:

Workshop illustration by Ben Landis

Illustration by WK15 contributer Ben Landis.


WK15 drawing section lead, Bethann G. Merkle (@commnatural) has collected a lot of the sketches from our workshop in a blog post on Illustrating Ecology…conferences, that is. Some of the sketches in that compilation foreshadow a project WK15 participants from the Mountain Research Initiative (MRI) have initiated. These scientist scicommers have launched a Twitter media blitz, with mountain research ecologists describing their work in illustrations, photos, and creative writing. Follow it here, and we’ll highlight the full story later in the week.

5 - MRI tweet


Want to Join the Fun?

Tonight from 6:30 to 8pm, we’re hosting a SciComm Innovation Lab Mixer in Convention Ctr room 202 (thanks, ESA!). There, we’ll share and troubleshoot projects, and (re)connect with new and old scicomm colleagues to talk shop and dream up new ideas.

Everyone is invited – new and seasoned scicommers alike (this means you!). Those who still have the energy can follow the event with dinner and drinks.

It’s no coincidence we’re hosting this mixer now.

There is an exciting scicomm undercurrent at this year’s conference:

If you’re interested in exploring the eco-comm frontier, join us tonight or get in touch.

Missed WK 15?

Clarisse Hart is the Outreach and Education Manager at Harvard Forest—a department of Harvard University and a Long-Term Ecological Research site. At Harvard Forest, she manages all public relations, including press outreach, print publications, the web, video, and social media; while also managing “K-to-gray” educational programs and directing the Fisher Museum. Prior to her work in communication, she was a field tech studying spiders, carnivorous plants, and humpback whales (though never at the same time). She has an MFA in Nonfiction Writing from Emerson College and a BA in Environmental Studies from Mount Holyoke College.