What’s next for Mozilla Science Lab

Cross-posted on the Mozilla Science blog. Image courtesy of Mozilla Festival, under CC-BY 2.0

We’ve had a hell of a great year at the Mozilla Science Lab. Thank you. And now, I’m excited to announce some new job titles and what’s next for our team. But first, a quick look back.

In the past year, the Science Lab has kind of been in startup mode – we brought on three new staff members and welcomed four Mozilla Fellows, ran a number of in-person workshops and meetings to refine our learning strategy, shipped two new sets of curriculum, and brought hundreds of people together around the world through sprints and the Mozilla Festival. In that time, we’ve learned a lot about what it means to meaningfully and thoughtfully work alongside members of the research community to further open practice, and how to build and sustain momentum. We’ve also sharpened our focus as an organization, building on what Mozilla does best: connecting communities through open curricula, global campaigns, training, policy, and events around issues like access to information, privacy, and digital inclusion.

The Science Lab is one of a number of programs at Mozilla that work to enable, empower and activate communities consisting of developers, educators, advocates and more. We do this primarily through fellowships, mentorship and project-based learning (through sprints and open source projects, specifically). Other programs include ones focusing on learning and education, advocacy, the internet of things, and women and web literacy. They make up what we’re referring to as the Mozilla Leadership Network, and represent a new way of working at Mozilla: in thinking of our communities as part of something more – a network rather than individual groups on their own. Across those programs, there are a number of shared challenges, from closed paradigms and lack of access to knowledge to privacy and lack of training. These are not solely science specific, but work we all carry in various ways to meet the needs of our communities. There are also shared sources of inspiration for our work, from civic tech and open government models to the open source movement and OER.

Here’s how we’re making our commitment to the Mozilla Network and our work with communities even stronger.

First, we’ll continue to invest in the network of open science leaders through the fellowships, study groups, Working Open workshops and mentorship. We’re also working on a mini-grant scheme (more this fall!) to further invest in our mission, and help catalyze prototyping efforts and support local organizers and mentors.

Second, the program leads for the Science Lab, Learning programs, Open Internet of Things, Women and Web Literacy and Advocacy Network will operate as one unified team, rather than operate in isolation.

Thirdly, we’re restructuring programs: for the Science Lab, Stephanie Wright, Zannah Marsh and Aurelia Moser, will be leading our work to make research open and accessible through fellowships, mentorship, and learning through open source projects and prototyping. Stephanie Wright, our Open Data Training Lead, is taking over leadership of the Science Lab, and our Fellows (current and alumni), Study Group leads, and mentors will take a more active role in supporting the community, helping us run workshops and provide expertise on what it means to work openly.

Abby Cabunoc Mayes, the Science Lab’s lead developer, is graduating into a new role leading developer engagement and contributorship (much like she’s done for sprints, Collaborate and “working open” in science) for the Mozilla Leadership Network. Arliss Collins is now serving as the Data and Metrics Analyst for the network, building off her data-driven approach to understanding community engagement across learning and project-based initiatives for the Science Lab for other programs, as well. Both Abby and Arliss’ roles still involve supporting the Science Lab’s work, while modelling that work for the broader organization – a huge step forward.

My role is also evolving. I will now oversee the four programs of the Mozilla Leadership Network (science, learning, women and web literacy and internet of things) while working closely with the advocacy network to ensure that we can work together to make transformative change globally. It’s been an honor to be the first director of the Science Lab. Now, we will take what we’ve learned this year in science and apply that knowledge across programs, as each program lead has an even bigger year next year.

We want to thank you for carrying this work forward and helping us grow the community of open science leaders (over 60 trainers and mentors worldwide this past year alone!). We can’t wait to continue supporting the open research community and working alongside you all to continue to further openness on the web. We hope you’ll join us.

Intro to Open Data on P2PU

The second of P2PU’s Open Science course videos is now online, this one focusing on “Open Data”. I was delighted to be able to join this module, alongside course-master Billy Meinke, Heather Piwowar from Impact Story, Ross Mounce from OKFN and Wouter van de Bos from Max Planck. You can check out more of the video modules here: https://p2pu.org/en/courses/5/content/1370/.

Have a watch, ping us at @MozillaScience with any questions (or leave them in the comments), and if you’re feeling *really* creative, try remixing / splicing the video using some of the Webmaker tools:


And let us know what you come up with!

Intro to Open Science on P2PU: Watch, engage, remix.

The first of P2PU’s Open Science course videos is now online. (I’ll be joining to speak on Open Data in a few weeks.)

Have a watch, ping us at @MozillaScience with any questions (or leave them in the comments), and if you’re feeling *really* creative, try remixing / splicing the video using some of the Webmaker tools:

And let us know what you come up with!

announcing the mozilla science lab

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve joined Mozilla to build and direct their new open science initiative – the Mozilla Science Lab. The project is supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

I’m excited to be returning to my open roots, as well as continuing to push the boundaries of what “digital research” can and should look like, and further explore how we can make the web work for science.

Why Mozilla?

Openness, empowerment and disruption are baked into Mozilla’s DNA. Their belief in the power of the open web and drive to explore new ways the technology can transform is inspiring. They truly believe that we all should be able to innovate in the digital world, regardless of your level of technical proficiency – that we should be able to be more than passive consumers. This is incredibly important for science, especially as we grapple with a daunting skills gap at the university level that is, in many cases, disincentivising researchers to participate, to innovate, or even in some cases, continue to do science.

Mozilla cares deeply about “digital literacy”, and it’s time we explore what that means for science, especially given discussion about the “skills gap” in funding circles and at the policy level. I started to unpack this a bit back in January in a piece on Radar – teasing out some of the core competencies I think we’re neglecting in basic science education. We’ll be discussing that more here on the blog in the coming weeks, as well.

The first member of my team is Greg Wilson, founder of Software Carpentry, a program that teaches basic computational literacy to researchers to help them be more productive. I’ve long admired Greg’s work in this space, in providing an entry point for students to learn things like version control, data management, basic scripting. In the last year alone, they’ve run over 70 events for more than 2,200 attendees – all led by volunteers – and are on track to double both numbers in the coming twelve months. More importantly, Software Carpentry is our first step in exploring what “digital literacy” ought to be for researchers and what they need to know to actually do it.

We also want to find ways of supporting and innovating with the research community – building bridges between projects, running experiments of our own, and building community. We have an initial idea of where to start, but want to start an open dialogue to figure out together how to best do that, and where we can be of most value.

I’ll be writing more here on the blog in the coming months as we ramp up development of the program (hint: we have some cool stuff planned. 😉 ). Stay tuned for more in the coming weeks about how you can get involved. You can also check out our wireframe here at wiki.mozilla.org/ScienceLab or follow us @MozillaScience.