At a time when global climate change threatens natural resources and human well-being, science communication, policies that enable (rather than hinder) scientific research, and steadfast, nonpartisan scientific advice are critical. I am joining others in fulfilling this critical need by making policy and public engagement a thread that weaves throughout the fabric of my scientific career.
Science Communication & Public Engagement
Public understanding of the scientific method and the importance of research is critical. Science outreach and education build trust, better enabling scientific findings to benefit society. To this end, I communicate science in both written (see my articles published on Massive) and verbal form (through live lectures and discussions such as the Science Museum of Virginia’s “Lunch Break Science” series). I also actively engage with interdisciplinary groups of writers and share science on social media platforms such as Instagram (handle: @EllenStuHae) and Twitter. In an effort to make science more accessible to stakeholders, policymakers, journalists, and the public, I began compiling a list of peer-reviewed journals in March 2019 that encourage authors to include plain-language-summaries (or an equivalent). I delivered this list to the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association when speaking at their annual meeting and have maintained it here for the use of others.
Equally important is making STEM careers accessible to all students through scholarships, opportunities, and mentoring in higher education. In addition to advocating for policies and opportunities that enable diversity, I mentor students from a variety of backgrounds and actively allow my own differences from the “typical academic” to be visible in an effort to normalize a diversity of life circumstances in STEM and academia.
Science Policy & Engagement
In 2011 I interned with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to work on policy and outreach related to the Chesapeake Bay Total Daily Maximum Load (Bay TMDL). The Bay TMDL, established by the US EPA in 2010 to restore the Chesapeake Bay, set pollution restrictions and water quality standards for all jurisdictions within the estuary’s watershed. My tasks were to contact and interview Richmond and Petersburg City council members regarding their plans to implement the Bay TMDL, identify and create a map of impaired waters within each council members’ district, and compile a final report pulling the information together for each district. This experience exposed me to the complexity of policy execution as well as the role of science in policy-making.
More recently, I attended science policy training through the Ecological Society of America in 2017 (ESA Science Communication, Public Engagement, and Policy Workshop) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2018 (AAAS Catalyzing Advocacy for Science and Engineering). After learning about the federal budget and refining my communication skills, I met with my US legislative representatives to stress the importance of federally funding research.