Association of Polar Early Career Scientists


APECS Webinars

Writing Science: Framing the story: structure
Josh Schimel
University of California Santa Barbara, USA

(Part 1 of 3 writing modules) In this module, Dr. Josh Schimel discusses story structure: the core elements of any story and the different ways to put them together. In papers, we typically use a story structure that Josh calls OCAR (for opening, challenge, action, resolution). In proposals, we use structures that are more "front-loaded" and are analogous to the structures that journalists use (and mystery writers)--get the point across quickly and then develop it. Dr. Schimel works through these different structures and then each element.

Recorded on 2 November 2010

This video is part of an online lecture series coordinated by APECS, US NSF ARCSS Thermokarst Project, and the University of Canterbury to help early career polar researchers navigate their careers. For more information on the full series, visit

Presenter: Dr. Josh Schimel, Chair, Environmental Studies Program & Professor, Dept. Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology, University of California Santa Barbara, USA

Dr. Joshua Schimel’s research lies at the intersection of microbial and ecosystem ecology. His work focuses on how the environment controls the composition of microbial communities in soil and how, in turn, those microbes regulate whole ecosystem processes such as greenhouse gas emissions, nutrient cycling, and plant productivity. A major thrust of Dr. Schimel’s work has been in the Arctic, where there are large pools of decomposable carbon in the soils and the climate is warming rapidly. His work is focused on understanding how climate change will alter the release of carbon dioxide, methane, and nutrients from Arctic peat soils and how that will alter the composition and size of plant communities across the landscape. One important aspect of this work has been investigating winter processes, since soil biology does not shut down during the long Arctic winter, and these processes are important in Arctic biogeochemistry. Other aspects of Dr. Schimel’s research are focused on California ecosystems, trying to understand how the stress of the long summer drought regulates soil microbes, and how the replacement of native plants with invasive Mediterranean annual grasses has altered biogeochemical cycles, such as the availability of nutrients in the soils.

Dr. Schimel has been active in U.S. science planning, particularly in the Arctic. He is currently Chair of the Arctic System Science Steering Committee and is a former Chair of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Office of Polar Programs Advisory Committee. Dr. Schimel also has served on the NSF Advisory Committee for Environmental Research and Education, working on developing plans for future interdisciplinary environmental initiatives. At the University of California, Santa Barbara, Dr. Schimel is chair of the Environmental Studies Program and has served as chair of the University Council of Graduate Student Affairs.

Grant, Proposal & Article Writing
  • Non-specific
Career Development Webinar Series

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