Leading with Science

The Nature Conservancy’s Science Impact Project

Supporting innovation, leadership, and communication for conservation success.


Conservation leadership in today’s world means not only delivering on-the-ground results, but also being a visible thought leader — innovative, interdisciplinary, and able to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences. The Nature Conservancy increasingly demands leaders of this caliber to implement and drive its Conservation by Design strategy.

The Science Impact Project (SIP) draws together exceptional talent from the Conservancy’s global science staff and cultivates superior leadership and communications skills. Through a series of targeted trainings and mentoring, SIP helps Conservancy scientists develop paradigm-shifting ideas on how to best meet today’s greatest conservation challenges — and gives them the tools and strategies to help put them into action.

Candidates for the program propose a novel and significant project to complete over 2 years. Selected participants attend semi-annual meetings where they pursue advanced communication and leadership training, challenge and support each other, and are mentored by senior leadership in science and science communications. As part of developing their professional profile, SIP participants will also take on a team project — leading to a group publication that advances the conservation conversation and contributes to the evolution of the Conservancy’s strategy and profile.

Meet the 2017 Science Impact Project Cohort

About the training: The curriculum builds from basic messaging and presentation skills, through special communications topics, to collaboration, leadership and organizational effectiveness.  With the same group of scientists at each workshop, participants come to trust and rely on each other to offer fresh ideas, new perspective, and supportive and thoughtful critique.

In addition to in-house expertise, the program draws on trainers with specialized experience in messaging, presentation skills, performance, data visualization, media effectiveness, emotional intelligence, leadership, and the science of science communication. Previous trainers have included:

Individual projects are a major focus of the program. The project may be a new technological approach or a new way of thinking about an issue; it may apply a successful approach from another field to conservation; or it may aspire to make conservation science accessible to audiences that simply haven’t been that interested before. The Science Impact Project stands at the intersection of innovative science and effective communication. The most successful projects will have elements of both.

The project is the foundation for much of the communications training. The ideal individual project is a manifestation of the scientist’s individual expertise and ambition; it aims to shift conservation practice or advance the scientific conversation in a globally or regionally significant way; and it is coherent with the goals of the candidate’s operating unit. The candidate’s supervisor participates in selecting and refining the project.

Participants and Projects

Meet the 2017 Science Impact Project Cohort

Meet the 2015 Science Impact Project Cohort

Meet the 2014 Science Impact Project Cohort

Meet the 2013 Science Impact Project Cohort

Meet the 2012 Science Impact Project Cohort


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