Fellow Story

Swain: climate researchers need support to become scientist-communicators

Fellow(s): Daniel Swain

Daniel Swain argues that “scientific institutions must create roles so that researchers can provide the deep public engagement necessary to respond effectively to the escalating impacts of climate change” in his recent Nature article

Daniel tells his story of “having a foot firmly planted in both research and public-engagement worlds,” often “dropping everything at a moment’s notice” to engage the public when environmental disaster strikes. With the increasing record-breaking heat and weather events, Daniel believes “more such roles are urgently needed… [and] more climate scientists clearly want to do this work.” Yet when supporting students who are interested in these dual-roles, he “struggle[s] to give them specific advice because, at present, there is no clear or replicable path.”

“Institutional support is the missing piece of the puzzle,” Daniel writes. “Research institutions and funders have often voiced support for increasing public outreach and community engagement by climate scientists. But tangible support has been sparse or non-existent.”

He argues that “a sea change is needed at universities and research laboratories around the world, one that will require both institutional willingness and administrative flexibility. Institutions should make serious investments to create and support flexible climate-science roles that blend research and engagement, and that can respond rapidly to real-world events and public demand.”

Read the full story here