December 15, 2016

Dr. G’s #AGU16 Spotlight – Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell

Posted by Laura Guertin

I was extremely pleased to see that Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell was on the schedule for AGU 2016. I saw her Union Agency lecture at AGU 2014 (described in this blog post and recording from time with the media), and I came away inspired by what she shared with the audience.

Secretary Jewell started by saying she wants to “celebrate the great things that have been done,” as scientists do a great job solving complex challenges. She quickly added that we do need to think about where we go from here. She focused on three themes: (a) science is key/foundational to government work; (b) science needs to be accessible to broad audiences (scientists, businesses, foundations, etc.); and (c) science needs to be translatable (deciphered and applied).

She also had some helpful advice for the group, stating that “if we speak the language of business, this will help the next administration understand that our science matters. We/government cannot make investments without sound science… We need to think about translating our science to dollars and cents.” Secretary Jewell also encouraged us to stay the course and keep doing the work, while working to make our voices heard and relevant. Most importantly, we should treat people with different points of view with respect.

I encourage you to view the video below to hear Secretary Jewell’s lecture and responses during the audience Q&A.

Secretary Jewell had some great one-liners in her talk:

  • “If you are not at the table, you are on the menu” (she was speaking about what happens in Congress….)
  • ” We don’t inherit the Earth from our ancestors but borrow it from our children” (using “children” to get people to care)
  • And this fun statement (which she explains in the recorded lecture): “Respect communications and psychology majors”

Throughout her talk, Secretary Jewell kept thanking all of us in the audience for all that we do. She is clearly appreciative of the work of scientists, and she is clearly optimistic about the future, encouraging us to “stay the course and keep doing the work,” while “getting the word out with gusto and enthusiasm,” as “we cannot win without good science.”

This article from The Verge is a fuller report on Secretary Jewell’s lecture.

[One interesting note… when Secretary Jewell discussed open data, sharing of data and open source platforms, etc., she gave the example of The Weather Channel. The weather data are from NASA and NOAA satellites that TWC uses to interpret for forecasts. She said “let’s give credit to federal data.” Interestingly, she said this same exact statement during her AGU 2014 Union Agency lecture. Hey Weather Channel… are you listening?]