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Putting 2020 in the Rear View: Understanding the Impact of COVID-19 on Collaborative Research

Wed, Dec 16 2020, 2 - 3:30pm

Speaker(s): James Arnott, Charlotte Hudson, Ariela Zycherman, Leah Fisher, Jen Read, Sybil Seitzinger, and Doug George

What a year 2020 has been! COVID-19 has reshaped how we understand and practice collaborative research, not to mention nearly every other aspect of how we live and work. By year’s end, all of us are now on a similar journey to take stock of what we have learned through these challenges.

This webinar brought together the perspectives of five funders working across North America that sponsor collaborative research on environmental topics. Earlier in the fall of 2020, each of them polled their grantees about how COVID-19 has affected their active projects and asked them to make sense of the benefits and constraints of doing collaborative research virtually. In this webinar, panelists representing the organizations involved in the study shared and discussed preliminary findings and their implications for future programs. Participating funders included: California Strategic Growth Council, NERRS Science Collaborative, NOAA’s Regional Integrated Sciences & Assessment, Lenfest Ocean Program at the Pew Charitable Trust, and the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions.


Cressman Cumulative ChangeJames Arnott is the Executive Director of the Aspen Global Change Institute. James’ research seeks to understand how to better link scientific knowledge with decision-making through research on collaborative science and science funding. James is also a visiting scholar at the University of Michigan’s Graham Sustainability Institute.
Leah Fisher is the Senior Advisor for Research & Innovation at the California Strategic Growth Council (SGC) where she works to leverage partnerships, actionable science, and equitable, meaningful engagement to help California meet its climate goals. Leah co-manages the cap-and-trade-funded Climate Change Research Program and supports a variety of interagency efforts for SGC and the Governor’s Office of Planning & Research, including on carbon dioxide removal and climate resilience. Leah came to the State of California from Washington, DC, where she worked at the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Charlotte Hudson is the director of the Lenfest Ocean Program at the Pew Charitable Trusts, a grant-making program that funds research projects that address the needs of marine and coastal stakeholders and supports grantees who will engage with the people most likely to use the results. She is responsible for identifying thematic areas of research and overseeing the design and implementation research projects that meet the criteria of the Lenfest Ocean Program. She also oversees the communication and dissemination of research results in ways that inform decision-makers and stakeholders to promote the sustainable management of the oceans.
Jen ReadJen Read is the Program Director for the NERRS Science Collaborative. She directs the U-M Water Center and implemented the Integrated Assessment program, including introducing the idea to the research community, while working for Michigan Sea Grant. Jen is also experienced leading interdisciplinary teams informed by multi-sector advisory groups to address challenging water-related issues. Jen serves as the Science Collaborative's principal investigator, provides overall program leadership, and manages the day-to-day activities of the Science Collaborative program.
Dr. Sybil Seitzinger is the Executive Director of the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) and an Environmental Studies Professor at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. PICS is a 4 university institute (University of Victoria, University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, University of Northern British Columbia), funding climate mitigation and adaptation research. We connect leading researchers with public and private sector ‘solution seekers’ in partnerships that co-design, co-develop, and co-deliver cutting edge climate change solutions. The 'PICS way' is a deliberate step away from siloed research towards full engagement, from project outset to implementation.
Ariela Zycherman is a Social Scientist and Program Manager in NOAA’s Climate Program Office in the Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments Program (RISA). She is an Environmental Anthropologist with expertise in food and agricultural systems, household and community livelihoods, and natural resource management. Prior to NOAA, Ariela supported multidisciplinary and applied team science projects as a National Program Leader at USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and as the National Coordinator of the USDA Climate Hubs.


Doug GeorgeDoug George is a trained geological oceanographer and the program manager for the NERRS Science Collaborative. He has worked throughout the West Coast as a federal scientist, state resource manager, and environmental consultant with projects ranging from estuary restoration and living shorelines to regional sediment management and climate change adaptation.