Who We Are

COMPASS is a team of science-based communication professionals. We all share a foundation of scientific training, but also have a diverse collective background in ocean science, policymaking, science journalism, and natural resource management. This enables us to work at the intersection of science, policy, and communications. With PhD scientists, former Capitol Hill staffers and award-winning science journalists on our team, we bring the knowledge, experience, and relationships needed to help scientists share their information with society.  Leading academic scientists lend their advice and expertise to guide our efforts. While COMPASS advocates for the communication of science, we do not advocate for specific policies or practices. Learn more about our team here.

What We Do

The planet will become home to nine billion people within the next 40 years. Decisions and discussions about food, water, energy, and other ecosystem goods and services have never been more critical. Scientists have a lot to contribute to these conversations. Most scientists don’t have the training or connections they need to communicate about their work beyond their peers. COMPASS addresses this gap by helping scientists develop the skills, insight and expertise to engage with the right audiences at the right times. We facilitate connections between scientists, policymakers and the media, thereby creating space for scientists to share their knowledge. We also introduce scientists to each other, and keep track of the scientific trends that are relevant to decision makers. We share our insights into the policy and media communities, to help scientists frame and advance their research questions.

Where We Work

COMPASS staff is housed at affiliate institutions throughout the United States. This allows our team to be more closely aligned and connected with scientists, the latest science, and the constantly changing landscapes of policy and communications. COMPASS staff are located at Oregon State University, the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (University of California, Santa Barbara), the University of Washington, and in Portland, OR and Washington, DC.

Our History

COMPASS, founded in 1999, is the brainchild of leading ocean scientists and communication professionals.  The scientists had become frustrated that the latest scientific understanding of the oceans was not reflected in public policies and practices, while the  communication professionals recognized the critical, yet unrealized, role scientists could play in shaping public understanding of the oceans. Additionally, policymakers struggled to find reliable information that was not influenced by an advocacy agenda. All of this pointed to a single critical need: more effective marine scientist-communicators. With this, COMPASS was born.

For the last decade, COMPASS has focused on ocean science and scientists. Recognizing the connection between oceans, land, air, and water-- and in response to requests from scientists outside the marine world-- COMPASS is beginning to expand its scope.

COMPASS’ founding Managing Principals Jane Lubchenco, Vikki Spruill, Chuck Savitt, and Chris Harrold were critical in conceiving, designing and sustaining the idea. The David and Lucile Packard Foundation was critical in supporting our own origins and evolutions, and is now joined by others in the philanthropic community to support our work.