Bridging science and policy

At the start of my internship I thought I would be mostly completing what I’ll call techy/computery tasks (GIS, database management, etc.) for the Oregon Coastal and Ocean Information Network’s (OCOIN’s) Coastal Research Explorer tool. However, my daily work walks the line between science and policy more than I imagined. 

Our main goal at OCOIN is to facilitate the exchange of novel research happening in Oregon through a Coastal Research Explorer tool, both for the benefit of researchers in the ocean science realm but also to make research more accessible for policymakers. In other words, the Coastal Research Explorer is really a science communication device. I’ve come to understand, over my last 6 weeks at OCOIN, that science communication is an essential bridge between scientific discoveries made by researchers and the creation of science-based management and policy. Prioritizing effective communication and easy user experience have guided many updates to the Coastal Research Explorer this summer, including the creation of new legends for our mapping tool and the inclusion of links to journal articles for each research project. 

In addition to discussions of effective science communication surrounding our own webmapping tool, I also had the opportunity to learn more about the inner workings and implementation of coastal policy at a meeting with the Ocean and Coastal Services team from Oregon’s Department of Land Conservation and Development. It was intriguing to learn more about web-mapping tools, similar to OCOIN’s Coastal Research Explorer, that are created and operated by DLCD to educate the public on management areas like the Rocky Habitat Web Mapping Tool. Webmaps can be an effective research sharing device (like OCOIN’s Coastal Research Explorer) but can be just as user friendly for the end of the policy-making process, informing the public!

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