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Kick-starting funding support

Science Discovery Days showcase development potential

February 1, 2013 | Scientists, team leaders, and program directors from across NCAR and UCP presented their latest results and plans to key leaders from across the organization on December 19 as part of the first “UCAR & NCAR Science Discovery Day.”

The inauguration of what will become regularly occurring meetings provided the assembled UCAR and NCAR leadership team with insights on the science, engineering, education, and other efforts going on around the institution. It also provided scientists, team leaders, and program managers with an opportunity to raise the profile of work they and their teams are doing.

Steve Tomczyk at Mauna Loa
Steve Tomczyk (HAO) makes adjustments during the 2010 installation of the Coronal Multichannel Polarimeter (CoMP) at NCAR's Mauna Loa Solar Observatory. Steve was one of the participants in Science Discovery Day on December 19. (©UCAR. Photo by Andy Watt, then with HAO, now with EOL.)

“So much is going on here, and some work doesn’t get the recognition it deserves,” says Scott Rayder, senior advisor to UCAR president Tom Bogdan. “If we understand what you do and why you do it, we’ll be better at getting resources so you can keep doing it—or do even more.”

At the meeting, UCP directors and NCAR researchers showcased some of the programs' and labs' current and potential “hits.” The sharing of this work will aid the development work headed by Scott, providing a better idea of the projects in the pipeline that might be a match for new or additional funding opportunities. In addition, showcasing the research and program insights can help identify areas of overlap and potential collaboration within and beyond UCAR and NCAR walls.

The meeting format allowed researchers to provide a brief overview of their work, with NCAR, UCAR, and laboratory leadership asking follow-up questions related to what presenters perceived as: (1) a project’s most exciting aspects, (2) any impediments to growth and/or success, (3) funding requirements, and (4) anticipated research outcomes. Questions also included identifying existing and potential scientific collaborations.

Wen Chau Lee at Vortex2
Wen-Chau Lee (EOL) discusses thunderstorm dynamics with science journalist David Levin during the VORTEX2 field project. Wen-Chau talked about his work with the airborne phased array radar during Science Discovery Day on December 19. (©UCAR. Photo by Bob Henson, Communications.) 

To view videos of the 24 presentations, use your UCAS password to log in here.

Tips for future presenters

Participants in the first Science Discovery Day shared some tips for future presenters on what to keep in mind for this show-and-talk opportunity. Among these:

  1. This is not a program review—the goal of the presentations is to help you do more of the work that inspires you.
  2. Know that those listening to your presentations need to quickly understand what you are working on.
  3. Describe the problem you are working to address, where you are in the process, and with whom you are collaborating.
  4. Keep messages high-level and straightforward. The audience here and in similar venues may not be scientists or engineers: they may be policy makers or those working in foundations or federal funding agencies.
  5. Describe why the work is interesting, exciting, and important, as well as why it has societal or scientific relevance for the audiences it may serve.
  6. Tell a story: what inspired this work, what benefits might accrue from the research process or outcomes, and what are the anticipated results?
  7. Be concrete. Talk about cost (how much), schedule (when will the work be done), and performance (what will the work outputs be, what do you expect to get out of doing the work?).
  8. Be ready to discuss how new and/or additional funds might benefit the science being done, i.e., how much money might provide additional outcome value, and how additional funds might support the project?

Next steps

From these meetings, Scott will work with colleagues in the Office of Communications to build out descriptive material for use in sharing our organization's capabilities more effectively.

Vanda Grubišić and Brant Foote will organize the next Science Discovery Day talks, which are scheduled for March 1. Organized by theme, the March talks will focus on next-generation instrumentation, seasonal and interannual forecasting, education, and hazards related to air quality, health, and water.

Participants are recommended by their program, division, or lab director, so let yours know if you'd like to be in the running for future sessions.

“The first round of Discovery Day talks provided a wealth of new information,” says Scott. “I look forward to these as ongoing events that will shed light across the entire NCAR and UCAR research portfolio and also suggest possible development opportunities."