Champions Program

Openscapes Champions is a mentorship program that empowers environmental scientists with open data science tools and grows the community of practice.


This mentorship program is for early career environmental researchers in leadership roles – faculty, lecturers, program managers, and others who want to establish open data science practices in their labs and on their campuses. It helps fill a gap left by graduate education, which often lacks formal computing and data training.

Openscapes empowers scientists by:

  • mentoring them to become champions for open practices
  • supporting them to improve open practices within their labs and campuses
  • amplifying their stories and successes online


Openscapes Champions work towards building an efficient, open culture within their labs, and modeling that behavior to the broader campus community.

Openscapes Champions will be better equipped to:

  • promote open data science practices in their labs and departments
  • enable an open culture in their lab, such as having
    • dedicated “data workflow” lab meetings
    • stated code of conduct or lab philosophy
    • beginnings of a lab roadmap of shared practices for data workflows
  • cultivate a local community of practice through study groups on campus (example: Eco-Data-Science)


The Openscapes Champions program meets scientists where they are to help identify incremental steps that will make their data workflows and lab culture more efficient and open. It is a five-month program that is led remotely, with lessons designed for active participation by Champions and their lab members.

Each month, Champions will:

  • strategize through one-on-one mentorship calls
  • learn about existing tools & practices through two group calls that also include lab members
  • set, review, and meet goals while building relationships and staying accountable

The program is modeled after Mozilla Open Leaders, which provides training, mentorship, and best practices for working and leading in an open way.


The Champions Program officially started in January 2019 with our inaugural cohort of seven Champions! We are sharing their stories through our blog.

Halley Froehlich, PhD — University of California at Santa Barbara. A marine aquaculture & fisheries scientist studying global systems.

Allison Horst, PhD — University of California at Santa Barbara. A data science and statistics lecturer in an environmentally-focused graduate program.

Nishad Jayasundara, PhD — University of Maine. A physiologist studying organismal adaptation to their habitat and effects of external environmental factors.

Malin Pinsky, PhD — Rutgers University. An ecologist studying the impacts of climate change on ocean life.

Adrian Stier, PhD — University of California at Santa Barbara. A marine ecologist studying recovery and resilience of ocean ecosystems.

Nina Therkildsen, PhD — Cornell University. An evolutionary biologist using genomic analyses to improve marine conservation and fisheries management.

Chelsea Wood, PhD — University of Washington. An ecologist studying marine and freshwater parasites and infectious disease in a changing world.

Learn their stories through our blog’s “champions” category.


So what do we teach during five months of remote calls with Champions and their labs?

The Openscapes Champions Program is strongly motivated by open data science, and with that comes the mindset of openness, collaboration, good intentions, and creating the culture we want in science.

The Openscapes Lessons Series is being developed for and used for the inaugural cohort during twice-monthly cohort calls. It is freely available for anyone to use. It is framed around Lowndes et al. 2017, Nature Ecology & Evolution: Our path to better science in less time using open data science tools. This paper is a retrospective of how a team’s data workflow changed over four years; the Openscapes Series aims to help guide other labs to incrementally make similar progress themselves, no matter where they are starting from.