Policy & Public Affairs

Public Policy

In January 2000, ASLO opened its Washington, DC office in order to better engage aquatic scientists in US policy decisions and to inform ASLO members and the general public on aquatic science policy. Dr. Adrienne Sponberg is the ASLO Director of Communication and Science, and serves ex officio on the Public Policy Committee.  The Communication and Science Office is ASLO's headquarters for all policy activities and information. 

Mission and Goals

The ASLO Communications and Science Office tracks, analyzes, reports and acts upon policies of relevance to the ASLO membership. While the bulk of its activity focuses on US policy, the office is developing a plan for engaging in the policy arena in the European Union and Canada, to better represent its international membership. The office is also adding programs that aim to inform the public (i.e., the voters) about aquatic science.

The three primary goals of the office are to:

Represent the aquatic sciences in the science policy arena

ASLO's Communications and Science Director serves as ASLO's eyes and ears in Washington, working with key policy-makers and scientific organizations to further the aquatic sciences and their use in policy-making.

Inform members of policy activities relevant to aquatic science

Through regular distribution of aquatic science policy reports and action alerts, as well as in-depth coverage of key policy issues in L&O Bulletin, the ASLO Communication and Science Director provides timely updates on issues of importance to aquatic scientists.

Facilitate member participation in policy

Affecting policy is a team effort, which is why the ASLO Communication and Science Director works to actively engage the board of directors, public policy committee, and general membership (particularly students) in policy activities through policy training workshops at conferences and in labs, assisting ASLO members with meetings with policy-makers, sponsoring a science policy internship for graduate students, nominating ASLO members for participation on relevant policy-making bodies, and issuing timely action alerts to members with an interest in policy.

In consultation with the ASLO Public Policy Committee and the ASLO Board, the ASLO Communication and Science Director determines the issues and forums for involvement. ASLO works with many other scientific organizations and societies (including ESA, AGU, AIBS, AGI, AAAS, etc.) on a formal and informal basis throughout the year. ASLO partners with these and other groups through coalitions and umbrella organizations (description and links below), as well as collaborating on individual activities. These partnerships allow ASLO to work efficiently to achieve goals common to the broader science community.


ASLO focuses its policy efforts on the area of science policy -- those policies that directly affect the day-to-day research and education activities of ASLO members. These issues include, but are not limited to: scientific research funding, education policies, regulations regarding scientific publishing, and policies affecting ASLO members' abilities to collaborate internationally.

ASLO does not take positions on issues of environmental policy. However, ASLO strives to make the most recent scientific information on aquatic ecosystems available to policy-makers. Through activities such as congressional briefings and poster exhibits, the ASLO Public Affairs Office provides the political know-how and logistical assistance for ASLO members to present their research to policy leaders who make decisions regarding the management and study of aquatic ecosystems.

ASLO is planning on expanding its policy activities to better represent ASLO members living outside of the U.S. If you are an ASLO member living outside of the U.S. and are interested in providing input regarding ways that the office can serve you, please send an email to Adrienne Sponberg.


Coalition for National Science Funding (www.cnsfweb.org)

The Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) is an alliance of organizations united by a concern for the future vitality of the national science, mathematics, and engineering enterprise. CNSF supports the goal of increasing the national investment in the National Science Foundation's research and education programs in response to the unprecedented scientific, technological, and economic opportunities facing the United States.

Friends of NOAA (www.friendsofnoaa.org)

The Friends of NOAA are supporters, stakeholders and partners of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and exist to encourage Congress to provide appropriate support for the agency as it carries out its mission of saving lives and livelihoods.

Biological and Ecological Sciences Coalition (www.esa.org/besc)

The Biological and Ecological Sciences Coalition (BESC) is an alliance of organizations united by a concern for every aspect of the biology of the natural world, from agricultural systems to zoology. BESC supports the goal of increasing the nation's investment in the non-medical biological sciences across all federal agencies.

Umbrella Organizations

American Institute of Biological Sciences (www.aibs.org)

The American Institute of Biological Sciences was established as a national umbrella organization for the biological sciences in 1947 by 11 scientific societies as part of the National Academy of Sciences. An independent non-profit organization since 1954, it has grown to represent more than 80 professional societies and organizations with a combined membership exceeding 240,000 scientists and educators.

American Geosciences Institute (www.americangeosciences.org)

The American Geosciences Institute is a nonprofit federation of 51 geoscientific and professional associations that represents more than 250,000 geologists, geophysicists, and other earth scientists. AGI was founded in 1948, under a directive of the National Academy of Sciences, as a network of associations representing geoscientists with a diverse array of skills and knowledge of our planet. The Institute provides information services to geoscientists, serves as a voice of shared interests in our profession, plays a major role in strengthening geoscience education, and strives to increase public awareness of the vital role the geosciences play in society’s use of resources, resilience to natural hazards, and the health of the environment.

Council of Scientific Society Presidents (www.cssp.us)

The Council of Scientific Society Presidents is an organization of presidents, presidents-elect, and recent past presidents of about sixty scientific federations and societies whose combined membership numbers well over 1.4 million scientists and science educators. Since 1973 CSSP has served as a strong national voice in fostering wise science policy, in support of science and science education, as the premier national science leadership development center, and as a forum for open, substantive exchanges on emerging scientific issues.

Comments are always welcome and should be addressed to sponberg@aslo.org.