#KeepScienceSpicy: Capital Science Communicators Celebrates Five Years in Sacramento

In 2018, Capital Science Communicators (CapSciComm) celebrated five years of community building and career encouragement in California’s Capital Region — Sacramento, Davis, and beyond.

When we launched in April 2013, we set out to connect local science communicators with resources and networks for professional advancement, whether you were a professional or a student, working in or outside the sciences. We work in and around the capital city of California — the fifth largest economy in the world — where decisions get made that affect peoples and industries far beyond state lines. It was critical that a professional network existed locally to foster quality science writing, journalism, and communication — which hopefully in turn fostered improved science literacy in our community.

Since then, CapSciComm has led local events and welcomed national meetings to Sacramento over the years. We hosted a “beat dinner” and helped with local logistics for the 2016 Society of Environmental Journalists annual conference, and welcomed the Ecological Society of America annual meeting in 2014. Our CapSciComm Science Tours have visited facilities like the California ISO, Sacramento Zoo, SMUD Rancho Seco station, UC Davis Crocker Nuclear Lab, and hiked the Mather vernal pools with Sac Splash and the Sac Valley Conservancy’s Deer Creek Hills preserve — gleaning scicomm insights and tips from scicomm professionals working those institutions.

Most proudly, CapSciComm has cultivated an environment where public science, science policy, and career advancement can thrive. Through CapSciComm encouragement, the number of local science cafés have grown from one to four — astounding when larger cities have one or none. Regular meetups have also connected state legislative staff with scicomm pros and early career scientists. And our listserv, our Facebook page and Twitter handle (@CapSciComm), and network word-of-mouth have directly converted job postings to new careers for a talented few!

As 2018 closes, I want to thank the dedicated colleagues who served on the CapSciComm Board this year, lending their time and network to benefit us all:

  • Our Executive Co-Chair Nick Gray, now with the Water Education Foundation, and will continue to bring his public science savvy to our table;
  • Our Professional Membership Chair Becky Oskin, who co-founded CapSciComm in 2013 and has offered us wise advice since;
  • Our Student Membership Chair Don Gibson, who departs after three years of impassioned volunteerism to hit the home stretch of his doctoral studies at UC Davis;
  • Our Professional Development Chair Nir Oksenberg PhD, who led wonderful scicomm programming during the Biennial Bay-Delta Science Conference this year in his work for the Delta Stewardship Council;
  • Our new Journalism Chair Emily Underwood, who will also represent CapSciComm in the newly created “SciWriCongress” of regional scicomm groups around the United States;
  • Our new Capitol Chair Debra Cooper PhD, who will bring valuable intuition from her neuroscience training, student tutoring volunteering, and State Senate experience to our table;
  • Our Public Science Chair Sarah Barnes, whose insights from Sierra Nevada Journeys will be sorely missed as she departs; and
  • Our Member-At-Large Dharia McGrew PhD, who has served on our board since its creation in 2015 — and continues to set the bar for our mission with her deep experience with nonprofit service.

2019 will see political winds, climate change, and urban growth pains shape the greater Sacramento region. CapSciComm will continue to evolve and adapt with the needs of our growing community — please keep an eye out for how we plan to reorganize and reinvent our network in 2019, opening new opportunities for more members to participate and take leading roles.

We are so excited to see what we might achieve in our next five years — join us, and let’s all do our best to #KeepScienceSpicy in the Sacramento region for years to come!

Ben Young Landis
CapSciComm Executive Co-Chair


The CapSciComm 5th anniversary gathering on April 12th, 2018 in Sacramento. (Image Credit: Don Gibson)
CapSciComm Science Tour visits the SMUD Rancho Seco station in June 2018. (Image Credit: Ben Young Landis)


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