In August 2015, UC Santa Barbara was selected by the National Science Foundation (NSF) as the site of the first Network Communications Office (NCO) for the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) network. The LTER NCO is operated by UCSB’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) — taking advantage of NCEAS’ experience in the support of multi-site collaboration and synthetic research, along with graduate training and environmental science communication.

The LTER Network Communications Office (NCO) announces that Martha “Marty” Downs has been appointed as the NCO Communications Officer. Marty combines a background in ecological research with science communications in media, government and academic sectors. As an ecologist, Marty was involved in research at three LTER sites and is familiar with the diversity of research happening across the network. She has been a freelance science writer and held high-level communications positions with Brown University, The Nature Conservancy, and the Boston Public Health Commission.

As a science writer, Marty has covered advances in ecology, conservation, engineering, climate and public health. Working as a freelancer and in media relations, she has placed stories in major news and broadcast outlets, including National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Technology Review and The New York Times. She also has experience with photography, videography, design, and social media.

Between 2007 and 2014 Marty was Associate Director of the Environmental Change Initiative at Brown University. She played a prominent role in building this new collaborative research program, which became a standing Institute for Environment and Society at the university in 2014. While at Brown, Marty and ecologist Heather Leslie co-developed a program for advanced undergraduates that combined an applied research experience with training in communication and leadership skills.

A seasoned communications professional, Marty brings innovative new ideas along with a depth and breadth of experience. In her new role as Communications Officer she has lead responsibility for developing and coordinating communications across the LTER network, serves as the point of contact between the LTER Network Communications Office operated by NCEAS and the LTER community, supervises communications and outreach staff and interns, and works with the NCO Director and other team members to ensure that all communication functions of the LTER NCO are operating efficiently and effectively.