To celebrate Women’s History Month, we asked women throughout NOAA Research who make lasting impacts in scientific research, leadership, and support from the field to the office to share how their work contributes to NOAA’s mission of Climate Resilience and preparing for a Climate-Ready Nation. This article highlights an interview with Brittany Croll, who serves as the International Relations Specialist in NOAA’s Global Ocean Monitoring and Observing Program (GOMO), and as the lead negotiator for science-related items under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Brittany is currently working on a detail as an Advisor to the NOAA Chief Scientist, Dr. Sarah Kapnick.
Our conversation follows:
What does climate resilience or climate-ready nation mean to you? What would you want people to know about NOAA’s work on climate resilience?
Climate resilience is fundamental to a climate-ready nation. NOAA’s science, products, and services are critical to support communities and businesses in becoming resilient and the need for this information is growing across all sectors. The climate-ready nation framework will guide our current and future work to meet these increasing demands and better deliver climate information while considering equity and accessibility. I would also emphasize the important role that partnerships and community engagement have in a climate-ready nation. Addressing climate change requires a whole-of-society approach and requires buy-in from communities and stakeholders in order to turn ambition into action. It is exciting that NOAA is at the forefront of providing the necessary information, innovation, engagement, and service delivery to build a climate-ready nation.
What projects or research are you working on now, and how does your work contribute to climate resilience?
One of the biggest issues I am working on now is the Global Stocktake on collective progress towards achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement. This is the first Global Stocktake and there are high expectations for the potential outcomes which will be delivered at the UNFCCC 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) this year. The signal that these outcomes will send to the international community about the need for more ambition, urgency, and accountability to implement climate commitments. I am also working on exciting efforts related to carbon markets and private sector engagement which will both contribute to NOAA’s portfolio of work to build a Climate Ready Nation.
What gives you hope, either with regard to science, your field in NOAA, or in general?
If you are going to work on climate issues then it is important to lean towards optimism otherwise the seemingly slow pace of action can wear you down. I am hopeful about the growing level of engagement across demographics, geographies, and sectors that is generating pressure to act and developing innovative solutions that will be necessary to address the scope and scale of climate change. It is still not fast or ambitious enough, but there is momentum building that transcends politics and that is really encouraging.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I enjoy the challenge and the variety of working on climate issues. I have an interdisciplinary background and am able to merge and explore a wide range of ideas to make recommendations or deliver outcomes. I also enjoy being able to work across line offices and with interagency and international colleagues. Being able to engage with a wide range of people has helped me to be more sensitive to understanding different motivations and perspectives, and more creative in navigating issues and finding solutions.
What challenges have you faced as a woman in your career/field and how have you overcome them?
One of the biggest challenges for me is having the courage to speak up (and push back when needed). I do not know if I will “overcome” the intimidation of sharing my ideas, but I also do not think that is a bad thing. Having a little bit of anxiousness makes me more thoughtful and aware of how I express myself. With that being said, there are some things I have done in order to be more comfortable speaking up. First is to be prepared. Confidence is a byproduct of preparation and putting in the work to understand the issues and justification for the positions I am taking makes it easier to be assertive. Second is to observe and try to emulate good examples from others. Each person has their own voice and style but watching and learning from others can be really helpful and has enabled me to “try on” different communication approaches to determine if they can be effective for me. Third is to put myself in situations where there is an expectation that I will contribute ideas, ultimately facing the intimidation head on reduces the magnitude.
Who do you look to as a role model and why?
I think it is important to have role models from a lot of different places and backgrounds, including through books and podcasts, in order to find new ideas and approaches for navigating a career (and life for that matter). NOAA has so many amazing women that have provided both inspiration and mentorship to me. As a specific example, one of the main reasons that I wanted to work for the Chief Scientist was the opportunity to learn from and support Dr. Kapnick. She is a great communicator and able to speak authoritatively across a range of topics and tailor her delivery depending on the audience. These are all skills that I am also working to improve. On a personal level, I am also very fortunate to have strong women in my family that provide wisdom and a support system to pursue my own path.
Special thanks to Brittany Croll for participating in this interview for Women’s History Month at NOAA.