View over a highway and town towards the ocean

Reflections on the Academic Roadshow

Our goal for 2020 was to tour CA's academic institutions - then a global pandemic happened

By Melissa Abderrahim

In 2020, OST partnered with OPC, CA, and USC Sea Grant to tour the state’s academic institutions to hear the latest science from marine and coastal scientists. This year-long road trip through California was named the Academic Roadshow and consisted of day-long campus visits designed to strengthen partnerships with the academic community, better understand the current landscape of coast and ocean-related scientific research, and provide a foundation for strategic science investments to accelerate progress towards state policy goals.
The first stop on the tour was at the UC Davis Coastal and Marine Science Institute, where faculty and staff presented their research on a wide range of topics all connected to the four Goals of the OPC Strategic Plan. Researchers highlighted multiple interdisciplinary projects tackling research questions from multiple perspectives and with a deep understanding of the socioecological linked system (read more here). The second visit took place in March at the SFSU Estuary & Ocean Science Center where presentations focused on sea-level rise impacts and adaptation, living shorelines, marine ecosystems & biodiversity, and diversity equity and inclusion (read more here). As we were debriefing the EOS center visit and scoping the next Academic Roadshow stop, the state of California went into full lock-down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In light of these new circumstances, we regrouped and brainstormed ideas to continue moving forward with the Academic Roadshow goals. With limitations due to the newly imposed Zoom format along with university faculty and staff decreased capacity we still managed to host a virtual Academic Roadshow stop at UCSB. In this 3-hours revisited format, faculty presented their research on marine ecology and the blue economy (read more here). In the fall, we also convened two micro-symposiums on ocean-climate justice and community engagement, gathering top experts to share their research and engaged in conversations with OPC, USC/CA, and OST leadership. This smaller format allowed for exploratory and innovative discussions while achieving the roadshow goals to strengthen partnership with the academic community and get a better understanding of the ongoing ocean-related research.
Reflecting on this unprecedented year, we are thankful to our partners as well as all the faculty, staff, and experts that have participated in the Academic Roadshow events and that remained committed to sharing their research to help inform state decisions and priorities despite extraordinary circumstances.

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