Our Approach

Our approach to solutions-oriented science enables discoveries at bigger scales and faster speeds, making them well positioned to inform environmental policy and management.

Synthesis Science

We don’t collect new data from the field or lab, but discover new insights from existing data through a method called synthesis science. This approach entails the collection, integration, and analysis of multiple datasets by a team of researchers, often with diverse expertise.

Through synthesis, researchers can answer big-picture questions more efficiently and inform large-scale solutions for managing our natural resources sustainably.

NCEAS pioneered the practice of synthesis research in ecology and the environmental sciences and continues to innovate in this approach, especially through its creation of computing tools that make storing, accessing, and analyzing “big data” easier and more efficient.

Learn about our current synthesis projects and recent discoveries.


Team Science

The strength of our science rests in multitudes. Recognizing that environmental challenges are complex and their solutions require diverse perspectives, we facilitate scientific collaborations between researchers from across disciplines and the globe through regular calls for proposals.

The resulting research teams, called working groups, include scientists with diverse expertise and, often, practitioners from agencies and organizations who can help translate the science into on-the-ground solutions. They typically come together at our headquarters in Santa Barbara for focused and intensive working sessions around their research questions.

Diverse individuals and data sources allow our working groups to connect otherwise disparate dots and discover key gaps in the knowledge and untapped opportunities in the evidence, thereby enabling greater productivity and problem-solving capacity.

In addition, NCEAS partners with leading nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and foundations on initiatives and projects to leverage our strengths and ensure decisions and actions are informed by the best available science.

Learn about our current working groups and partnerships.


Open Science

Transparency and reproducibility are essential to the utility and integrity of the environmental sciences, and open science is a means to uphold these tenets.

Open science is the philosophy and practice of making data and methods accessible, replicable, and free to use, typically through computer programming tools and techniques. It helps researchers compile and analyze data more efficiently and identify solutions more quickly.

NCEAS is committed to supporting an open scientific culture through its training opportunities and data science solutions to build the capacity of researchers in this emerging field.