The Sun Rises on a New Day

SEP. 16, 2020 THE EDITORIAL BOARD [ADRIENNE WOOTTEN, MEAGHAN GUCKIAN, CLAY TUCKER, TONI KLEMM, LINDSEY MIDDLETON, CAIT ROTTLER]

Have you ever been awake to see the sun as it rises? Have you been there, waiting in the dark as that first bit of light cracks across the horizon? Did you plan to be there for that sunrise? Were you excited waiting for the world to come to life in the light of a new day?

In 2012, a small group of graduate students and early-career scientists gathered in Oregon learn about climate change and science communication. This small group, who came from all over the U.S., saw a need to stay connected across their disciplines and help other students and early scientists stay connected and collaborate on the wicked challenge that is climate change. Their vision brought to life the Early Career Climate Forum (ECCF). It was a new day full of promise. Six years later, in 2018, the ECCF had grown and changed. The website was thriving, filled with 125 blogs from 65 contributors discussing everything from research, to career advice, to diversity in sciences. It also brought in resources for members to share their research, find jobs and fellowships, better their communication skills, and help bring diverse perspectives into STEM fields. In a survey in 2017, we found that the ECCF provided a strong sense of community and hope in the future of climate science research. We were all proud of what we had achieved with the support that the Climate Adaptation Science Centers had provided. Many things changed in six years, and in 2018, the ECCF website went static as we began to transition to new leadership and new funding for our efforts. The sun had set on the old ECCF website, but not without hope for the future and the next sunrise to come.

While the ECCF website has been inactive, the new team behind it has remained active. We have added new features and reimagined how ECCF would fulfill the requests from users with the vision of that ambitious group from 2012. Those following us on social media have seen more posts from us on Twitter and Facebook. We’ve also transitioned to a new Google Group listserve to connect with members and provide science news and career opportunities. ECCF has also launched a podcast, to interview students and professionals and share career and science communication advice, and of course novel climate research. All of this has been done without the ECCF website being active, and all the students and young scientists we’ve heard from spurred us on to do more. In summer 2019, we sent out a survey to students and early career scientists through our many interested partners and collaborators. We were surprised to find that 87% of our respondents indicated that they are not part of any early career network or organization (81% of whom are students and postdocs). We also heard you tell us that you want more support for diversity in science, more training on peer review, and more tips and resources for science communication in stakeholder engagement. Respondents are asking for trainings on fields outside their own, in science communication, and stakeholder engagement. We’ve heard you, and we’re working hard to add those features. Stay tuned.

Today is the dawn of a new day with the launch of the new website and unveiling our new name. Realizing that ECCF has grown beyond being only a forum, the new Early Career Climate Network (ECCN) builds upon the work of ECCF but brings in so much more. On the new website, blogs and resources that our members cherished have returned, along with new resources and more to come in the future. The new website now features our podcast, resources for science communication and tools, a monthly newsletter highlighting career opportunities and climate-related research in the news, and a page on past workshops hosted by ECCN board members. This is only the beginning.

ECCN has always focused on early-career climate specialists, students and early career professionals in climate science. Therefore, ECCN is dedicated to being by early-career and for early-career. As such, we are actively seeking more early-career climate specialists to join our Editorial Board, contribute to blogs, and much more. There are three pillars that now drive ECCN; 1) Knowledge, 2) Education, and 3) Diversity. ECCN strives to advance the knowledge available to our members which includes advice and networking between our members and with the established professionals sharing their knowledge with us. All this knowledge is made available through blogs, social media, podcasts, news, and showcasing publications of young scientists of all backgrounds. These resources will continue and grow larger. ECCN strives to help educate early-career climate specialists on topics they need for their work and trans-disciplinary collaboration. Via social media and news, we have promoted relevant trainings from our partners. In the future, we are looking to co-host trainings, both online and in-person. Finally, ECCN recognizes that having a diversity of perspectives (with all perspectives respected) is critical to trans-disciplinary collaboration that will help address the challenges of a changing climate. To that end, ECCN provides resources for diversity in STEM, and we will incorporate diverse perspectives in future trainings, blogs, and the ECCN podcast. It is our hope that ECCN will bring out the diverse perspectives of early career and allow climate science to advance with respect for these diverse voices.

Many of us have seen the sunrise and the hope it brings in the promise of a new day. We stand here today, watching the sun rise on a new day for this effort that a small group of students and young scientists began in 2012. This moment is full of hope and promise, but achieving that promise depends on people who share this vision to join us. We welcome you to join us, to share in the promise of the future, and advance climate science with new collaboration, knowledge, education, and diversity. We look forward to having many of you join us as contributors, to work with us, and connect with your peers! As the sun rises on the ECCN, we hope you will seize the day with us!

To become a contributor, please email the Editorial Board at earlycareerclimate@gmail.com or reach out to us on Twitter and Facebook. We look forward to hearing from you!

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