Twenty-three professionals who work to foster connections among scientific communities have been named AAAS Community Engagement fellows for 2019.
The professional development and training opportunity, administered by AAAS’ recently established Center for Scientific Collaboration and Community Engagement and funded by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, will bring the fellows to AAAS’ headquarters three times as they work together on long-term projects over the course of the year.
One goal of the program is to raise the profile of scientific community engagement as a field, said Lou Woodley, the Center’s director. Unlike public outreach, scientific community engagement focuses on building communities within the scientific enterprise, such as research groups or those convened by associations. Scientific community managers are the professionals who facilitate communications within these groups, with the aim of helping their team members work together more effectively. Specific duties can include creating content for online communities, facilitating interactions among community members in online spaces, running events and workshops, creating and tracking community engagement metrics and sharing best practices.
Because the field is an emerging one, development opportunities for these professionals are scarce. According to a survey conducted by AAAS in 2016, many scientific community engagement professionals hold advanced degrees in the sciences, but few community engagement managers have formal training in community engagement and many are the only person in their organization to hold such responsibilities. Instead, most managers learn on the job, so the fellowship seeks to create a shared community and knowledge base for professionals in the field.
The field has continued to grow since 2017, when AAAS convened the first cohort of Community Engagement fellows. Woodley has already witnessed progress in the two years since the program’s launch. While the inaugural group had a range of responsibilities, this year’s participants all manage interactions among communities as their primary responsibility, even though they might have very different job titles, she noted.
Some 2017 fellows will serve as mentors to the new class of fellows during the training weeks at AAAS, helping the new fellows develop specific action plans for the year.
The incoming fellows will complete some of the same projects as earlier fellows, Woodley said. Many fellows – and their organizations – are particularly excited about creating “community playbooks,” essentially a manual for engaging their particular scientific community that serves as a lasting document for the organization.
In addition to creating their own playbooks, fellows will have the opportunity to develop new group projects or build upon work done by previous fellows, perhaps adding to the content-creation guide authored by one group of 2017 fellows. Such activities will depend on the interests of the fellows and what best serves their particular scientific communities, Woodley said, noting that several themes have emerged from the new fellows’ applications, including the promotion of diversity and inclusion through community engagement.
“We’re thrilled to continue to support scientific community engagement professionals and through them a more diverse, collaborative, team-based vision of science,” Woodley said.
The full list of 2019 fellows:
- Kate Baker, postdoctoral research fellow & community engagement lead, Center for Water Systems, University of Exeter
- Arne Bakker, manager of scientific meetings, Chan Zuckerberg Science Initiative
- Ellen Bechtol, outreach specialist, IceCube
- Arielle Bennett, community manager, Repositive Translational Oncology Network Initiative
- Chiara Bertipaglia, scientific program manager, Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute, Columbia University
- Megan Carter, community director, Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP)
- Liz Guzy, administrator, EDGE Center and SRP, University of Washington
- Lars Hammarström, strategic relations officer, KTH Royal Institute of Technology Science for Life Laboratory
- Shane Hanlon, program manager, AGU Sharing Science Program
- Rayna Harris, technical facilitator, Data Commons Pilot Phase Consortium
- Toby Hodges, bioinformatician, EMBL Bio-IT Project
- Leslie Hsu, coordinator, USGS Community for Data Integration
- Ann Meyer, knowledge and research exchange manager, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research
- Julianna Mullen, site manager, Ocean Acidification Information Exchange
- Brit Myers, project manager, Arctic Research Consortium of the United States (ARCUS)
- Serah Njambi, community engagement lead, The Carpentries
- Naomi Penfold, associate director, ASAPbio
- Tom Quigley, community manager, Digital Makerspace Conservation X Labs
- Jessica Rohde, web manager/communications officer, Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC)
- Camille Santistevan, associate director for public relations, Advanced Science Research Center at The Graduate Center, CUNY
- Jen Shook, senior program manager, National Geographic Society
- Korie Twiggs, community manager, Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC)
- Kathryne Woodle, program manager, American Physical Society (APS)