RY2012-1 Project Update uri icon

DCO ID 11121/5138-8286-8184-4170-CC

Date Submitted

  • 2012-08-31

Update Text

  • NOTE:

    This proposal submitted for this award (B2012-10-03) covers a 36-month period from 1 November 2012 through 31 October 2015 and flowed directly from Sloan Officer Grant B2012-25. While our formal request to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation was for a Phase I, 18-month period (1 November 2012 through 1 May 1 2014), the DCO leadership felt it was important for our proposal to outline a comprehensive 3-year strategic and financial plan. Thus, our proposal was presented in two 18-month phases (November 2012 – May 2014 and April 2014 – October 2015). It outlined a full three-year plan to build a DCO Engagement Team and support a suite of community building, engagement, and communications strategies on behalf of the DCO.

    Because certain activities under Sloan B2012-10-03 also overlapped with Sloan Officer Grant B2012-25 (1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013), accomplishments noted in this report reflect updates for both projects.

    Also please note that certain activities outlined in the Tasks & Timeline section of our proposal (Appendix 2 in the proposal) were collaborative efforts with the DCO Secretariat. Others were dependent on infrastructure development by the Data Science Team based at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), the group with lead responsibility for developing and implementing the DCO’s overall web infrastructure including a community database and bibliography, a suite of DCO website collaborative tools with group functionality capabilities, and a visual materials repository with digital object identifier system to facilitate file and information sharing and search/discovery.

    The goal of the first 18-month phase of the submitted three-year proposal for DCO engagement and communications is aimed at supporting the growing DCO scientific community in carrying out its own work in contemporary, exemplary, and efficient fashion, and beginning to share the results of this groundbreaking undertaking with audiences within and beyond the scientific community. Accomplishments highlighted in this  report are organized to correspond with the nine sections presented in the 3-year proposal.


    The leader of the Engagement Team, Sara Hickox, was appointed to the DCO Executive Committee to foster closer links between engagement efforts and those of the Secretariat and science communities. Playing an active role in encouraging the DCO Secretariat to begin scheduling regular DCO Executive Committee calls, the Engagement Team provided templates for organizing discussion and informational topics for the calls, and continues to routinely work with the Secretariat to identify topics for the call agendas and materials for distribution in the Briefing Books associated with each call.

    As the DCO program advances, inevitable changes in leadership will occur. The Engagement Team oversees updating of Leadership Rosters of Executive Committee members and Chairs, Co-Chairs, and Scientific Steering Committee members for each community for the Briefing Book as well as on the web portal. Engagement issues are also incorporated into the Risk Register, as appropriate.


    The DCO Engagement Team worked with key members of the DCO leadership to clarify DCO’s identity through a learning phase, drawing out the key aspects of DCO’s identity and transforming it with an updated logo, colors, and typography.

    As members of the DCO science community identify new uses for the DCO logo elements, the Engagement Team has provided new logo formats, such as the DCO-branded logo for the DECADE effort and workshop-specific graphics, as well as a range of agenda templates for workshops, sandpits, the international science meeting, and Executive Committee teleconferences and meetings.

    Graphic identity elements and templates can be viewed by logged in users in the Engagement Resource Center on the DCO Web Portal.


    One of the first activities undertaken by the Engagement Team was to recruit key individuals from each community to serve as their Engagement Liaisons:

    Extreme Physics and Chemistry • Dimitri Sverjensky • Johns Hopkins University
    Reservoirs and Fluxes • Elizabeth Cottrell • Smithsonian Institution
    Deep Energy • Magali Ader • Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris
    Deep Life • Steven D’Hondt • University of Rhode Island

    The Engagement Liaisons have regularly acted as conduits for sharing information from the Engagement Team to the Scientific Steering Committee members of their respective communities as well as those they consider members of their extended community networks, when appropriate. The DCO Science Network is comprised of members of the Executive Committee and Scientific Steering Committees as well as the Secretariat, Engagement, and Data Science Teams. Once most of the collaborative tools, group functionality, and digital object identifier system under development by the Data Science Team became operational, we immediately provided these members of the DCO Science Network with password-protected access to these capabilities on the DCO web portal. At the same time, the Engagement Team launched a concentrated effort to invite members of the extended networks of each Community to join the DCO Science Network. Access to these new collaborative tools brings capabilities that will foster even greater international expansion of the DCO Science Network. The Engagement Team is recruiting new members to the DCO Science Network through personal invitations, social media, and announcements on the DCO web portal and newsletter, international media advisories and news releases.

    The Engagement Team also revamped and reformatted the DCO newsletter. With a primary goal of driving newsletter readers to key science stories associated with DCO scientific results as well as workshops, meetings, and other important gatherings of DCO scientists, the newly-formatted newsletter has been distributed monthly since April 2013. Each issue contains a variety of components including science and news features, workshop and meeting reports, and RFP announcements, etc. The monthly newsletter distribution list will expand in concert with the growth of the DCO Science Network.


    The Engagement Team worked closely with Data Science Team colleagues to provide structural and functional input as the RPI team developed key collaborative resources such as the Community Database and Bibliographic Infrastructure for the DCO community. The collaborative tools and group functionality capabilities were launched by the Data Science Team in Spring 2014, and the Engagement Team provided information and guidelines to help DCO Science Network members access and utilize these new tools. While the Data Science Team was developing an interface for entry of bibliographic information using the open source semantic web application, VIVO, the Engagement Team took responsibility for managing this information on behalf of the DCO community in the interim, entering all relevant DCO publications into RPI's Drupal-based “Biblio” system, using digital object identifiers (DOIs) or complete metadata. VIVO replaced the Biblio system on 12 August 2014. Now members of the DCO Science Network can directly input their own publications. A record of these publications is a key component of the “Reporting and Management” system launched by the Data Science Team on 4 August 2014. We continue to work with the Data Science Team to improve the VIVO user interface, in order to streamline content submission such as user profiles, bibliographic entries, and project/field study information.

    The Engagement Team also utilized the new branding elements in the development of promotional materials such as notepads, flash drives, and pencils for distribution in conjunction with DCO’s International Science Meeting in Washington, DC, in March 2013 and for use by the Secretariat at workshops and other meetings. The Engagement Team continues to brand DCO events with items such as DCO-branded water bottles and  embroidered DCO jackets and hats for the DCO Early Career Workshop, and t-shirts and hats for the DCO Summer School.

    Comprehensive DCO PowerPoint and Keynote templates were prepared and distributed to all members of the DCO science community who were making presentations at the March 2013 meeting, and the templates were also included on the flash drives distributed to all attendees. These templates also reside in the Engagement Resource Center, where they can be customized for any DCO-related event. The Engagement Team also assisted the Secretariat with a graphic redesign of the slides they regularly utilize to promote DCO. These slides are the basis of a growing collection of "DCO overview" slides that will be accessible to the broader community, along with a bank of images, videos, and other visual resources, as soon the Data Science Team finalizes the input and search capabilities of the DOI system.

    To facilitate DCO workshop planning, the application process, and logistics, the Engagement Team developed a suite of Workshop/Meeting Planning Tools including a web-based application/information collection system for use by the DCO Community. Members of the DCO Engagement Team actively participated in and prepared reports for two DCO workshops, the Early Career Workshop in Costa Rica (February 2014) and the DCO Summer School at Yellowstone National Park (July 2014). The participation included hosting communications training sessions, including tutorials on effective science communication and the use of video cameras during field work, facilitating utilization of the group collaboration tools, and using social media to support and promote the group's activities.


    Developed in close collaboration with the Data Science Team at RPI, a new DCO web portal hosted by RPI replaced the original DCO website on the Carnegie server, with original information from the initial, Carnegie-managed DCO site ported over as completely as possible. This new portal became DCO’s public face (deepcarbon.net) when it was officially launched on 4 March 2013 in conjunction with the International Science Meeting in Washington, DC. Since that time the Engagement Team has continually assessed the layout and design of the public site based on expressed needs of the DCO Secretariat and scientific community. We have routinely shared use cases, workflow examples, and wireframe diagrams highlighting the needs of the DCO community with our RPI colleagues. This information includes the metadata required for managing a wide range of digital objects as well as the simplicity of the user interface that is essential if the collaborative tools and Management and Reporting Structure developed by RPI are to be fully utilized by DCO scientists.

    The RPI team provided the technical underpinnings for the public portion of the Drupal Commons-based DCO website (the Drupal Commons platform was selected by RPI due to its apparent collaborative tool capabilities) and the Engagement Team handled development and input of the content. It quickly became apparent, however, that the Engagement Team would require a staff member with significant expertise in maximizing user interface capabilities. Thus, in September 2013 we added a web developer with user interface expertise to the Engagement Team. With his addition, the first major revision of the new DCO website took place prior to the American Geophysical Union meeting in December 2013. The Engagement Team conducted another major upgrade of the landing pages for each DCO Community in Spring 2014, allowing these  landing pages to feature all projects undertaken by each Community, their most recent publications, and news and highlights for each Community. To make the Community page upgrade possible, the Engagement Team systematically reviewed every Community research proposal submitted previously to the Sloan Foundation, as well as interim/final reports. Project descriptions, lists of PIs and participating scientists, and any project updates noted in the proposals or reports were distilled for each Project. Because the Data Science Team-developed Management and Reporting System was not yet operational for Community use, the Engagement Team entered all the initial project-based information for more than forty DCO projects, while the Data Science Team created profiles in the VIVO-based infrastructure for all participating scientists. During Spring and Summer 2014, the Engagement Team provided continual input to the Data Science Team on the Management and Reporting System.


    2013 International News Releases
    On 4 March 2013, the DCO Engagement Team distributed its first international news release focusing on the release of the special issue of Reviews in Mineralogy and Geochemistry devoted to “Carbon in Earth”. Coverage was captured in 12 languages from 530+ sites across 59 countries. Among the most notable results were 21 stories that ran on 13 national and international newswires, including the world’s four largest syndicates: Reuters (translated from English into several languages); Associated Press (from The Canadian Press); Agence France Press (English, French and Spanish); and Agencia EFE (Spanish and Portuguese). Feature-length stories ran on National Public Radio, Living on Earth (USA); in El Pais, Spain’s largest newspaper (full page, Mar. 13 print edition); Eos, published by the American Geophysical Union; and a spot news story by CBS (USA) Smart Planet. Famous media names among those publishing articles online included CNBC, Scientific American, Chicago Tribune, Huffington Post (USA), CBC, CTV (Canada), Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, and Canberra Post (Australia). At mid-afternoon Monday March 4, coverage of DCO was ranked among the top 20 science stories at Google News USA, #10 in UK, #3 in Canada.

    On March 4, 2013 we also launched DCO's social media presence on Twitter and Facebook in support of communications to external audiences. We continue to regularly post information to these accounts and in the past 18 months have built a respectable following of nearly 600 people on Twitter. We expect numbers of followers on Twitter and Facebook to continue expanding as new members are recruited to join the DCO Science Network and as we turn more of our focus toward external audiences.

    A second international news release (December 2013 in conjunction with the AGU meeting) focused on breakthroughs describing how to greatly speed up nature’s process for producing hydrogen and the many presentations by DCO scientists at the AGU meeting. This release generated news coverage in at least 13 languages (Albanian, Chinese, Dutch, English, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Vietnamese) captured from news sites across 45 countries:
    • Asia / Pacific: Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Viet Nam
    • Europe: France, Germany, Italy, Kosovo, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Spain, Ukraine, United Kingdom
    • Middle East: Iran, Lebanon, Oman, United Arab Emirates
    • North America: Canada, Mexico, United States
    • South and Latin America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, Venezuela

    Without exception, coverage was positive in tone. Reference the Deep Carbon Observatory appeared in most -- though not all -- key, syndicated news articles. The release in English drew 2,350 page views at the AAAS site EurekAlert.

    Complementary Videos
    To complement our media and broader public relations campaign, we signed a contract with the Smithsonian Media Group to produce a 3-5 minute overview video aimed at a lay audience explaining carbon as a concept and what the Deep Carbon Observatory scientists are doing to better understand the vast proportion of Earth’s carbon that is found deep inside Earth. This “Carbon 101” video utilizes 3D graphics and other animations to explain complex scientific concepts. The Engagement Team, members of the Secretariat, and DCO scientists based from Smithsonian and Carnegie worked with the Smithsonian video production group to further refine the concepts presented in the overview video and served as scientific consultants, as required, during the production of the video. The initial 5-minute DCO Overview Video was highlighted on the DCO web portal in late Spring 2014 and will be featured in a September 2014 media advisory, along with a second, 2.5 minute video depicting the wide range of DCO field studies. This "Field Studies" video is currently in production by Smithsonian Media.

    Frequently Asked Questions
    A suite of Frequently Asked Questions, both public and for the benefit of the DCO scientific community, are under development by the Engagement Team. A session held at the Marine Biological Lab in Woods Hole in August 2013 helped identify many of the key questions requiring thoughtful answers, and our team has completed the first round of answers to most questions. FAQs require continual updating, and answers to questions of a more sensitive nature will be shared with the DCO leadership to assist them in answering questions of this sort should the opportunity present itself.

    Fall-Winter 2014 Community and Press Engagement
    The DCO Engagement Team, in collaboration with the Secretariat and members of the DCO community, will coordinate a range of community and press engagement activities in the Fall of 2014 associated with DCO’s global field studies and release of the DCO mid-term report concurrent with the 2014 AGU Fall Meeting.

    Our proposed strategy encompasses a range of goals related to:
    1. DCO Field Studies
    • To provide the broader DCO community and the media with a better understanding of DCO’s global field studies strategy in an organized and visually appealing manner. This will be accomplished via a special section of the DCO website and an internationally-disseminated media advisory.
    • To showcase the work of many of DCO’s early career scientists who are actively involved in DCO-related field studies and provide them with opportunities to learn how best to communicate their results in an accessible fashion.
    • To develop complementary graphics and other visuals to serve as easily-accessible resources for DCO scientists to use when presenting their fieldwork to their scientific colleagues and broader audiences.
    • To share findings generated from DCO’s field studies with the DCO community and global media.
    • To connect journalists with DCO’s field-based efforts and provide opportunities for their participation in field activities, as appropriate.

    2. Mid-Term Report
    • To provide the broader DCO community and the media with an understanding of the accomplishments of the DCO research program at the mid-point in the decade-long program via an internationally-disseminated news release and follow-up activities at the Fall AGU Conference in San Francisco (December 9-15, 2014).
    • To develop a cadre of DCO scientists, both established and early career, able to articulate both the goals of the overall DCO program as well as a synoptic view of the program's findings to date.
    • To utilize the release of the mid-term report to generate more global interest among deep carbon scientists in joining the DCO Science Network.
    • To share current findings generated from the first five years of DCO’s research program to the broader DCO community and global media.

    The Engagement Team has initiated a multi-step communications strategy for press and community relations for the remainder of 2014:

    1. We have begun preparations for a new section of the DCO website designed to highlight DCO fieldwork from around the world, past, present, and future. The special section will feature a global map of all DCO field sites linked to project details and personnel for all DCO field expeditions alongside interviews with the PI or project participants and/or photos/video footage from the field. Smithsonian Media is producing a short overview video of DCO fieldwork as a resource for DCO scientists and for prominent display in this new area of deepcarbon.net. The Engagement Team also is producing another resource, a suite of new graphic products to portray the varied environments where DCO scientists work as well as the tools and technologies they employ at field sites. This new section parallels the DCO Project pages, allowing the DCO community to easily update the content via the web portal's collaborative tools, making the field studies component of the website a valuable and ongoing resource with direct links to findings related to field-based activities. The process of gathering the content for and building this new web-based presentation of DCO fieldwork will serve as an effective community-building tool in and of itself. The web-based format will allow us to highlight all DCO scientists involved in fieldwork rather than just a select few, as would be the case with a traditional news release.

    2. The Engagement Team will work with scientists associated with upcoming field activities to determine the possibility and practicality of inviting members of the press (including video crews) to accompany them in the field. We realize this is not always practical (e.g., berth space on research vessels is general unavailable to non-scientists), but there are instances where such a collaboration could result in beneficial outcomes for DCO, the scientists involved, and the participating journalists. Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory implemented a similar strategy for the Summer 2014 field season. We expect this to be an effective means to build press and public interest in DCO research while helping DCO researchers to hone their communications skills.

    3. Over the summer months, the Engagement Team has expanded its international media lists. The September media alert and new section of the DCO website will help strengthen a foundation of positive press attention for the December news release.

    4. With a projected completion date of 1 September 2014 for the launch of the new “field studies” section of the DCO website, we will distribute a media advisory to journalists from around the world. This advisory will highlight upcoming expeditions, any timely publications and recent findings, and upcoming opportunities for journalists to accompany DCO scientists into the field. This advisory is not intended to solicit immediate news coverage, but will be used to cultivate and expand DCO relationships with members of the global press.

    5. By late October 2014 we anticipate completion of the final text for the DCO mid-term report (already underway, in collaboration with the Secretariat and Rus Hemley as the lead author). At this time we will prepare a global news release featuring the report, as well as highlight DCO's presence at the 2014 AGU Fall Meeting. Timing a news release to coincide with the AGU Fall Meeting was highly successful in 2013; therefore we intend to replicate this strategy. The news release will also feature any recent DCO related scientific publications, as appropriate. We will also work with Smithsonian Media to produce a video to complement the December 2014 news release.

    Anticipated outcomes include:
    1. A new and engaging section of the DCO website focused on field studies
    2. Improved sense of community within the broader DCO community, including the early career scientists
    3. Expansion of the DCO Science Network
    4. Improved and expanded international media connections
    5. Expanded pickup of the December 2014 news release
    6. Future earned media coverage as a result of journalist/scientist field-based partnerships


    At the September DCO Executive Committee meeting in London in Fall 2013, the Engagement Team arranged for presentations on “The Open Access Landscape” by representatives from PLOS and a new open access journal Elementa. These presentations built upon the draft Open Access Policy prepared by the Engagement Team in collaboration with Carnegie Institution of Washington Librarian Shaun Hardy that was distributed to the DCO leadership in the Spring of 2013. An updated DCO Open Access Policy was distributed to the broader DCO community and posted on the DCO website, along with the Data Policy developed by the Data Science Team, in Spring 2014. Open access is one of the pillars that will foster widespread access to the reporting and synthesis activities undertaken by the DCO community. With only slightly more than four additional years of research project activity before the 2019 Reporting and Synthesis year, the London meeting was not too early to begin active discussions of how best to manage and implement a proactive strategy that involves the Secretariat, the DCO science communities, and the Data Science and Engagement Teams.

    In Spring 2014 the Engagement Team requested volunteers from the DCO Executive Community to actively participate in the development of a DCO Mid-Term Report. Dr. Russell Hemley, DCO Co-Executive Director, volunteered to be lead author on the report. The Engagement Team is responsible for layout and design of the document of approximately 16 pages. To assist Dr. Hemley in organizing the content for the report, the Engagement Team compiled a timetable and synopsis of all DCO research features to date, categorizing them by Community as well as the "Quantities, Movements, Origins, and Forms" thematic framework. Dr. Hemley will share a report draft and make a presentation, soliciting Executive Committee input, at their meeting in Los Angeles in late September. The text will be finalized, and layout and design of the report completed in October, to allow printing in early November.


    The Engagement Team has already begun to build partnerships with a number of media entities including Smithsonian, National Geographic, and NOVA for a range of possible products and activities that will help disseminate the results of DCO research to broader audiences. Our partnership with Smithsonian began in Fall 2013 with a subcontract from URI to their Media Group to produce and overview video and video packages to accompany news releases. This interaction allows us to also make connections with other Smithsonian units such as their television and magazine groups and Smithsonian.com. In addition, Robert Hazen is already working with NOVA on a television production that may feature deep carbon content—or this project may spawn an opportunity for a second NOVA production with a focus on topics related to DCO. In addition, the Engagement Team regularly fields inquiries from independent filmmakers who have expressed interest in possible projects focused on DCO.


    A system has been put in place for tracking DCO web traffic utilizing Google Analytics, social media reach utilizing Sprout Social, and uptake of DCO-produced news releases through active monitoring of news coverage. The Engagement Team provides written reports summarizing the reach of each news release and media advisory.