Jake Krauss is a biologist with a passion for communications. He always loved animals, and as an undergraduate of ecology and evolutionary biology he volunteered for an expedition to Madagascar with a Ph.D. student. Tropical biomes quickly became one of his favorite subjects. Later, after a teaching assistant in one of his classes left to host a science television show, Krauss realized how much the prospect of sharing science with the world excited him. Then, he earned his master’s degree in tropical biodiversity and ecosystems.
“I seem to have followed that same trajectory, doing research for a while, traveling around and then pursuing science communication projects,” said Krauss.
After an internship with the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) Krauss joined the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) as a fellow at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Water (OW). Krauss is learning science communications firsthand under the mentorship of Gabrielle Minton and Emily Bender at OW.
The EPA Research Participation Programs provide college students, recent graduates, and university faculty opportunities to participate in current environmental research in areas such as air and radiation, water quality, solid waste and emergency response. The Communications and External Engagement Staff in EPA's Office of Water supports a wide breadth of outreach activities for the office.
His project puts a spotlight on estuaries, important ecosystems where freshwater rivers meet saltwater from the ocean. Specifically, Krauss is highlighting the 28 estuaries which compose the EPA’s National Estuary Program (NEP). To do this, Krauss created a social media campaign to increase estuary awareness. Additionally, he creates themed content for other EPA priorities, like “Coral Reef Awareness Week.”
By creating media content, the EPA hopes to close the gap between general audiences and the importance of wetlands and estuaries, as well highlight the important part that the Office of Water plays with NEP.
“Given the increase of climate threats, it is more important now than ever to demonstrate the value of protecting estuaries and wetlands and how EPA is essential to that work,” explained Krauss.
Krauss spends much of his participation coming up with new ideas, developing digital content and collaborating with scientists and other communicators. One particularly unique experience he’s had is learning from a team member how to alternate between close shots and wide shots to create visual interest. He’s also learned the intricacies of different social media websites, such as using character limits to his advantage. He recently received a travel grant to attend the Science Writing Conference in Boulder, Colorado. Lastly, Krauss was a national finalist for Ignite Off 2023 with his talk about the National Estuary Program.
Krauss recommends the EPA program and says that it is a good learning opportunity and a good steppingstone between field research and an office setting. He offered some advice to potential ORISE applicants. “There are many different kinds of appointments, so make sure you find one that aligns with your interests and goals.”
After his appointment ends, Krauss plans to continue advocating for conservation using communications and digital media.
Watch Jake's interview about his time as an ORISE Participant
The EPA Research Participation Program is administered by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE). ORISE is managed for the U.S Department of Energy by Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU)