Using social media to advance your research career

Most of us use social media as an effective way to connect with
friends and family. For academics though, social media can be even
more effective at advancing professional goals. In this roundtable, I
will illustrate the many ways that roundtable participants can use
social media to powerfully further their career objectives. These
objectives include things like: keeping track of the latest
developments in the field, increasing awareness among colleagues of
your research, and furthering outreach goals. I will be focusing on
Twitter, though the principles are roughly the same across social
media platforms. At the end of the roundtable, my intention is that
participants will have gained actionable information about social
media that they can immediately put to work to further career goals.
This roundtable will involve some interactive activities, but
participants will not need to bring computers (or anything else) to
take part in these activities.

Jai Ranganathan

Center Associate
National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis


Introduction to Jupyter notebooks and quick dive into Python

Presenter: Julien Brun

Jupyter notebooks are a great way to share your data analysis and promote reproducible science.  These interactive notebooks mix executable computer code (e.g. Python, R, Julia, Bash, …) with rich text and data visualizations. Have a look here for some examples: We will use this tool to do a quick dive into Python with specific tips for R users.

Note that the hands-on participation is space-limited and you need to register here. However, everybody is welcome to follow the session in person or remotely. The hands-on participants  will need to bring their laptop to connect to NCEAS’ server, but no specific installation is required.

Fostering Sci. Community at NCEAS: Welcome Site for Newcomers [Wed. July 13]

NCEAS is a central hub for a diverse array of scientists and research. New researchers, including visiting and early career researchers (ECRs), are constantly coming in and out at various frequencies. However, larger cohorts of scientists stationed at NCEAS are no longer entering at one time, making it more difficult to track the exciting research and possible collaborations within the center. As part of addressing this new dynamic, the resident ECRs are proposing a simple, advice-based website that provides basic and clear information concerning everything from housing to setting up access to the NCEAS servers. It simply provides the fundamentals of what an incoming scientist will need/can do before moving to Santa Barbara and within the first couple weeks here. The ECRs will maintain most of the site, allowing us to modify the information quickly when new issues or ideas arise. The beta-version of the site will be discussed and feedback is most welcome!

Looking forward to the discussion!

Halley E. Froehlich
Rachael Blake
Jamie Afflerbach
Casey O’Hara
Heather Soyka
Colette Ward
Claire Runge

YouTube: not just for cat videos! Simple ways to create online videos that connect people to your science [Wed. May 4]

It is more important than ever to use video to communicate your science. After all, watching videos is one of the main ways – maybe the primary way – that people use the Internet. Scientists often assume that video is just for outreach, but it can also be used to further your research. But how do you create those videos? After all,
video production can be very equipment intensive (read expensive) and time consuming. Making things even more difficult, video production is not part of scientists’ training. However, advances in technology mean that creating compelling video can be done in less time and at much lower cost than before. This talk will focus on the techniques that
scientists can use to easily produce their own videos to further their science and for outreach.


Jai Ranganathan

Center Associate

National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis

Early-career researchers and their role in synthesis groups: a discussion [Wed Mar 2]

This week’s round-table will be an informal discussion on the role of early career researchers (ECRs) – research assistants, research scientists and post-docs – within large and/or multi-disciplinary synthesis groups and working groups. We will cover topics including, the role and expectations of ECRs how these can be managed, challenges we may face in interacting with the rest of our collaborators and also, how we can manage our own work goals while doing so.

Here is an initial list of questions we’d like to discuss.

  1. What do we think the ECR should be doing?
  2. What are the challenges in aligning group expectations with the ECR’s own understanding of their role in the group?
  3. How does the ECR ensure that their own professional goals remain on track while working for the group?
  4. How best can the ECR use this period for learning new skills and making new collaborations?

Please feel free to bring additional questions/comments/thoughts to the session.

Barriers to Diversity in Higher Education and the Promise of Diverse Scientific Teams [Wednesday, Jan 27]

This Wednesday’s roundtable will be led by Dr. Barbara Endemaño Walker and Professor Kyle Lewis from UCSB.

The Center for Research, Excellence and Diversity in Team Science (CREDITS) at UCSB is an integrated research and training program to increase and enhance the capacity and effectiveness of transdisciplinary scientific teams in California.  Diversity on teams is known to have positive effects on creativity, innovation, and productivity.  Apart from its contribution to scientific breakthroughs and grand challenge problems, collaborative transdisciplinary science – “Team Science” – has beneficial impacts on individual research careers.  Team Science projects garner more funding, and yield greater publication productivity and higher impact publications.  Despite the benefits of diversity to teams, women and URM scientists are less likely to participate in team science collaborations, and their participation in these networks develops later in their careers.  In this presentation we will provide an overview of key interventions to increase the broader participation of women and URM faculty in higher education, and summarize the research on diversity and collective intelligence.

Kyle Lewis Pic
Kyle Lewis
Professor of Technology Management
College of Engineering, UCSB

Barbara Endemaño Walker
Special Assistant to the Executive Vice Chancellor for Diversity Initiatives /
Director of Research Development for the Social Sciences, Humanities and Fine Arts
Office of Research, UCSB


Kyle Lewis is Professor of Technology Management in the College of Engineering. She holds a PhD in Organizational Behavior from the R.H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, an MS in Industrial Administration (MBA) from Carnegie-Mellon University, and degrees in Mathematics and Computer Science from Duke University. She joined the faculty of UCSB in the Fall of 2014. Prior to joining UCSB, Dr. Lewis was a tenured professor at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Lewis’ research examines how organizations leverage individual and collective knowledge. She examines the performance of teams, especially those teams engaged in knowledge work such as professional services, new product development, and project-based tasks. She has published articles in the top journals in the field of Management, including Academy of Management Review, Academy of Management Journal, Organization Science, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Management Science, Journal of Management, Journal of Applied Psychology, and Group Dynamics. Dr. Lewis served as Division Chair in the Academy of Management (Managerial and Organization Cognition Division) and was a past senior editor for Organization Science.


Barbara Louise Endemaño Walker is the Special Assistant to the Executive Vice Chancellor for Diversity Initiatives, and the Director of Research Development for the Social Sciences, Humanities and Fine Arts in the Office of Research at UC Santa Barbara. Walker’s research on the gendered political ecology of marine resources in Ghana, French Polynesia, and California has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and NOAA Sea Grant, among others. Her current research programs examine a) the intersections of team science and broadening participation in STEM and higher education, and b) alternative food networks among US fishing communities. Her work has been published in the Professional Geographer; Gender Place and Culture; Society and Natural Resources; PLOS ONE; and the Journal of Geography and Higher Education among others. She has a Ph.D. and M.A. in Geography from UC Berkeley and a B.A. in Anthropology and African Studies from UCLA.


Nailing Your Elevator Speech with the Message Box

Nancy Baron sent a message in advance of her NCEAS Roundtable presentation next Wednesday (Jan 23). She writes:

Hi Folks,

Next week at the NCEAS Roundtable I am going to teach you how to nail your elevator speech about your research by using a simple but powerful tool called “the message box.” Some of you may know and already use this so this might be a refresher. And for those of you who aren’t familiar with it — it’s incredibly useful.

The message box takes all your complex knowledge and helps distill it into the key messages that journalists, policymakers, and everyone else who are not experts need to understand your work. It is a guide to make sure you stay on topic and make your important points during a conversation or interview. Or it can just help you cut to the quick at a party to explain what you do and why it matters.

So here is a copy of the box and a couple of examples, one by Boris Worm and another by former NCEAS post doc Ellen Damschen. You might want to give this a whirl before Weds because we will be rushed in an hour.  This will help you get a lot more out of our short time. You should have a particular audience in mind — say a journalist as they have to be able to understand what you say well enough to convey it clearly themselves. (See the sheet.) 

Notice that when you start your message box, you will probably write a lot. That’s ok, it’s part of the brainstorming process. Next, work on cutting it down to the most important idea you want to communicate in each section of the box. 

On Weds, I will explain this more fully. Hope to see you then.

all best,
Nancy Baron

See you at the Roundtable!

Should ecologists get involved in advocacy?

Today we will be having a Roundtable to discuss issues involving the role of scientists in advocacy. I typically don’t get any feedback after advertising a Roundtable, but this topic generated a mixture of responses ranging from “that sounds interesting, I will be there” to “this topic has been talked to death and there is no resolution in sight” (I’m paraphrasing here). So, it seems as though people have strong opinions, which should make for an interesting discussion. To access papers relevant to the discussion visit the NCEAS plone site:



Storytelling and communication through environmental media: Blue Horizons films

image credit: Alan Wolf CC-BY-NC-SA

I was pleased to have the opportunity to host Richard Hutton and LeeAnne French, the Executive and Associate Directors of the Carsey-Wolf Center and two of the minds behind the Blue Horizons film program, for a Roundtable last week. It was very fun to be able to show this year’s Blue Horizons films for the NCEAS community, and especially great to join into the conversation that we had with Richard and LeeAnne.

Richard and LeeAnne shared some great advice for those of us interested in communicating the science relevant to environmental issues, several of the things they mentioned really stuck in my mind. We discussed:

  • the importance of knowing your audience and tailoring your message for the particular audience you’re trying to reach
  • the way a nuanced presentation of a variety of cultural, societal, economic, etc. perspectives on an environmental issue can help the audience move beyond their established positions and engage more deeply with inherent complexities and competing points of view
  • the powerful and honest way people can express their thoughts and feelings about an issue when trust between interviewer and interviewee has been established
  • the importance of casting when creating environmental media
  • the value of storytelling as a communication approach

Richard also recommended a book for those interested in learning more about how to improve communication through storytelling: The Storytelling Animal by Jonathan Gottschall. If any of you are planning to read it (I am) and would like to discuss afterward, please let me know and I’d be happy to join you.

Thank you, Richard and LeeAnne, for taking the time out to talk with us! We appreciate your willingness to share some practical tips we can use as we think about how to improve our communication efforts.

Collaboration and conflict management 101

Our Dimensions of Biodiversity team held a meeting at the Lake Baikal Bolshie Koty field station this summer to discuss teamwork and conflict management. We used a lot of the materials that were shared with us by Pat Soranno and her CSI-Limnology team. So for this Roundtable discussion, I’ll tell you about the materials we used, and policy documents that we are using to manage issues around data sharing, collaboration, and co-authorship…

If you want to check out some reading materials that might be useful, shoot me an email.

Update after our discussion…

1) I agree very much with several of Stacy‘s points about the Kilman conflict instrument – a) it seems very focused on American culture, and b) the structure of and word choice in the survey tends to put positive emphasis on extroversion and quick reaction.

2) Here’s the link to the post about creating a “resentment list” during field work – good for a laugh and also for easing tensions that build in close quarters.

3) Here’s the paper that John Parker and I wrote about working group dynamics – there’s a box where we set out some of the important points about running a working group.

Steve came into my office today while I was trying to fill out my reimbursement forms from the Russian travel this summer – he looked at my desk and commented on this particular side of international collaboration! 🙂