William & Mary

Paula Jasinski

President and Director of Science Communications for Chesapeake Environmental Communications

Paula Jasinski is the President and Director of Science Communications for Chesapeake Environmental Communications. She received her Master's in Marine Science from Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

{{youtube:large|aquV_6DlW_8, Interview with Paula}}

  • How did you first become interested in the Chesapeake Bay? 0:25 to 0:57

Jasinski grew up on the Rappahannock River, and she has always been passionate about coastal habitats.

  • What did you study at VIMS? 0:57 to 1:12

She studied Coastal Management and really enjoyed the management side. She got her Masters degree at VIMS.

  • How does having a Masters degree help you be a better manager? 1:12 to 1:43

Having a Masters helped her with networking and “provides credibility” to professionals in her field. She also gained valuable research skills, although she does not do as much field work now in her job.

  • What is a typical day like for you? 1:43 to 2:15

She spends a lot of time in meetings, on the phone, and traveling to meet clients. She also works on many creative projects, and she even works until 10pm on some days.

  • What did you do before you started at your current positions? 2:15 to 3:08

After graduating from VIMS, she worked for the National Park Service. She looked at what the effect of sea level rise would be on coastal habitats. Then she worked for the EPA and worked on GIS projects around the Chesapeake Bay. She has done consulting for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Environmental Defense Fund, the National Wildlife Fund, and The Nature Conservancy. Then she worked for NOAA as a biologist.

  • Do most of the people you work with have higher degrees? Who are some of your clients? 3:08 to 3:45

She works a lot with teachers, college professors, and PhD students. Her clients include federal agencies, state officials, and even international organizations.

  • How did you prepare yourself to run your own business? 3:45 to 4:00

Her VIMS degree did not have a business focus, so now she takes many business classes to refine her management skills.

  • Would you encourage science students who are not interested in doing research to take business classes? 4:00 to 4:22

“Absolutely,” she stated. She even encourages her kids to take classes in consulting and marketing. Any career will use some of those skills.

  • What kind of services do you offer your clients? 4:22 to 4:54

Her products communicate the organization’s science to the public. She’s made videos, science visualizations, and even done data analysis.

  • What are your goals for your clients? Are you trying to help them become greener? 4:54 to 5:48

Some of her clients aim to be greener, including those involved in ecotourism. She tries to fill in the gap between science and the general public because science can be hard to understand. She wants to bring the public and scientific issues together so that meaningful change can develop from policy.

  • Is this kind of work meaningful to you? 5:48 to 6:01

Yes! She loves increasing the dialogue around science and making science meaningful to others.

  • How did you transition from VIMS to science communication? 6:01 to 6:41

When she left VIMS, she was already working on national parks and was thinking about climate change. One of her professors was engaged in coastal management and had his own research and also talked to policy makers. Seeing a scientist outside the lab inspired her to continue working on these issues.

  • What do you like about your job? What don’t you like? 6:41 to 7:21

She likes working on her own and coming up with creative projects. She collaborates with teams and clients, but she is always looking for clients who would support her projects.

  • How did you decide to start your own business? 7:21 to 8:46

She and her husband could not find a business that was doing what they wanted to do. When they would give public talks, people were always blaming each other for the problems she presented. Science communications can bring people together so that not one party holds the burden of any one issue. Her niche connects groups and tells stories from different perspectives. She wants to help organizations tell their stories in more savvy ways.

  • What were your initial intentions when you graduated? 8:46 to 9:28

When she graduated, she really just wanted to find a job that made her happy. She loved the intersection of science and policy, and she wanted to make management changes around policy.

  • What skills should college students develop? 9:28 to 9:58

You really need to work on your writing skills. Learn as much software as you can. Get internships and network with people you meet along the way.

  • If you could go back in time, what would you tell your college-aged self? 9:58 to end.

“Find what make you happy.” She wishes there was less pressure on young people. She says students should get involved with many different things, and focus on what you love. Your career path will be long and very winding.

 You can contact Gina if you have further questions for Paula at [[e|gmsawaya]].