Rick Keil ~ Citizens' Scientist


Courage to Take Risks

COSEE Ocean Learning Communities (OLC) got underway in 2005, in large part stemming from the vision of Véronique Robigou, who wanted to bring the COSEE model to the Pacific Northwest. Rick was picked to join the OLC team by the Dean and Director of the University of Washington (UW) School of Oceanography, perhaps because he was recognized as someone who was passionate about teaching. "The idea was that what I was doing in the classroom would translate into the broader mission of COSEE," says Rick, "and I was thought to have a good rapport with students."

Ocean Inquiry Project cruise
A particular challenge for Rick was to find a way to incorporate his expertise in chemical oceanography into the education mission of COSEE OLC. Ultimately, this resulted in the OLC involvement in citizen science. "We would never have started our citizen science sampling effort if we didn't have the intellectual capital of COSEE OLC encouraging us to move forward and try this big experiment," says Rick. "COSEE encouraged me to take risks."

The citizen science effort soon grew into SoundCitizen. "COSEE supports SoundCitizen intellectually by giving us the capacity to try, the willingness to extend, and the connections to the right people," says Rick. "The greatest thing COSEE did all along - and still does today - is support the intellectual endeavor and provide capitol and encouragement."

"The rewards that we get from COSEE aren't monetary; it's the immediate reward you get from doing Education and Outreach."
In January 2010 COSEE OLC presented Addressing Broader Impacts Requirements, a one-and-a-half-day event intended to encourage scientists to get involved with COSEE OLC. "At UW there are lots of well-established scientists who only want to do oceanography," says Rick. "They don't understand how COSEE could meaningfully impact their lives." Seeing this need to address those who were skeptical about the COSEE model, Rick and COSEE OLC went about designing an event that would generate maximum impact. "Between tenured faculty and graduate students, we attracted about one third of oceanography-related staff at UW," says Rick. "This event was a defining moment. It gave COSEE OLC an identity that scientists could really grab onto and then begin to work with us."

Richard Keil
Richard Keil, Ph.D., Professor, UW School of Oceanography
COSEE helps fulfill short, medium and long-term needs
Russ McDuff
Russ McDuff, Ph.D., Professor/Director, UW School of Oceanography
COSEE helps fulfill short, medium and long-term needs