Contribute science

Do you have unfunded and unpublished scientific results that are relevant to the future of our planet in a changing climate? Are you a researcher who doesn't fit easily into the current academic mold? Do personal circumstances limit your ability to advance in the overly competitive academic world? Are you caring for a child or family member? Are you managing social anxiety, ADHD, or another mental health condition? Are you on the Autism Spectrum? Are you a BIPOC researcher or come from an underrepresented background? While countless factors might keep you from landing a competitive academic position, we think your novel scientific knowledge is valuable. We want to remove the barriers of your career achievements and help add your research to the scientific record.

Our first call for applications will begin Summer 2022. There is no application deadline, we will accept applications on a rolling basis and award grants at the highest frequency that our fundraiseing will allow.

The mission of OCRC

Below are the interwoven key elements of the Collective

The Climate Crisis

Open source Earth and climate research has an obvious value to society, but rarely a direct market value. Local and national governments are relied upon for funding, but our mitigation of Earth's changing climate is too perilous to be subject to political cycles and inconsistent funding. Because of this, OCRC has a specific focus on advancing Earth and climate science.

OCRC Scientists

OCRC will provide funding to individuals who have unpublished climate-related scientific knowledge, yet don't easily fit into the traditional academic setting or are from an underrepresented background. We are not held to the academic hierarchy and will fund any individual with novel research.

Diversity in Science

We want the academic landscape of the next generation to be more diverse and equitable than it is today. OCRC grant recipients will mentor an undergraduate or high school student from an underrepresented background. We will promote the use of remote technologies as they evolve to enhance the connection with students who do not have local resources.

Open Source / Open Access

We are intolerant to barriers that prevent the advancement of collective knowledge. All research conducted with OCRC funding must be open source in annotated Jupyter notebooks with working examples and research articles must be submitted to open access journals.

Millennial-led Organization

Current heads of scientific funding agencies are seasoned academics. While we deeply respect the wisdom gained during a long career in science, we think it’s time to try something new. As Millennials, our Board of Directors have an even greater stake in addressing Earth’s changing climate and will strive to do so with greater equity than previous generations.

The Outcome

Through these efforts, we will build a community of concerned citizen donors and climate scientists both active today and of the next generation. OCRC will help widen the canon of scientific literature that is, and will continue to form the basis for our mitigation of the climate crisis. The faster we can understand and model the nuances of our Earth system, the better prepared we will be to protect the future.

The concept behind OCRC

All Earth scientists have a mountain of data, results and half-finished projects sitting on their laptops. It is not out of mal-intent that this information is hoarded and often lost, but rather that the last step of producing a final product for a peer reviewed publication is intensive and time consuming. Although scientific publishing is often the primary means of communicating findings and the ultimate goal of scientific research, postdocs and junior professors are often focused on self preservation through grant writing and satisfying various demands of a host institution.

There is a pyramid of availability of positions within academia. Undergraduate is widely available. Narrowing from Masters, PhD, postdoc and faculty positions, availability decreases and competition for positions increase. With the increase in competition, there is also an increase in the number of competitive applicants that are ultimately rejected. Starting around the Masters/PhD level and continuing above, these rejected applicants carry a valuable and underutilized asset: unpublished knowledge.

For individuals between the higher academic ranks or interested in finishing started projects but preferring to operate outside of the academic structure, we offer medium-sized grants to complete and publish their findings. We will give preference to climate related research that predicts the state of our planet into the future. We will require all grant recipients to publish in open source journals as well as make all code publicly available and well annotated with working examples. We will encourage our recipients to publish what journals often call “letters” or shorter publications which can be written and reviewed in a more expedient fashion and will help destigmatize these shorter publications as “not as good” as more comprehensive, narrative style science articles. Finally, we will require our recipients to initiate an undergraduate or highschool student mentorship targeted at underprivileged and underrepresented individuals, in an effort to demonstrate that climate science is a field open to people of all backgrounds.

Our Goals

Start-up: By mid-2022, our goal is to raise at least $10,000 in order to fund the work of two climate scientists. In subsequent years we hope to raise more funds in order to both support more scientists and provide larger grant prizes. At this time, OCRC is operating entirely on a volunteer basis, meaning 100% of your donation, big or small, goes straight to funding climate science.

Long term: Break the status quo of for-profit science journals and prove a model of science funding that escapes university overhead and administrative duties, leaving scientists to do science and expedite the dissemination of information to the world.

Our logo features a glacier with some rock debris and medial moraines, an indication of moderate glacier health. In a future scenario with a continuously warming climate, a full debris cover is likely to develop prior to melting away entirely. The glacier runoff flows from the cryosphere to the ocean. Our oceans are likely the most critical component in the Earth-climate system and the most likely to cause mass devastation to us and our infrastructure. Above is the Earth-observing satellite, Landsat 9, which was launched on the 27th of September 2021 and will provide open-access imagery to scientists around the globe. Finally, we find the partial derivative (read as the letters ‘D T, D T’) expressing the change in temperature (T) with respect to time (t) to be eloquent both in its formulation but also in how it contains the conceptual entirety of the climate crisis in a single term.

Who is behind OCRC

Sam Herreid, PhD

Sam Herreid grew up in Fairbanks, Alaska. His parents divorced when he was 10 and his dad battled symptoms of Huntington’s Disease. At 16, his mom underwent a successful, but disabling craniotomy to remove an infection from her brain, leaving Sam to be her primary caregiver. The addition of these factors to an already fractured, low-income household made for a somewhat unconventional upbringing. Sam struggled academically and narrowly graduated from high school. He had difficulty with reading, comprehension, attention and focus, struggled with dyslexia, and spent one year at a vocational high school due to poor academic performance. As an outlet, Sam started alpine climbing in the Alaska Range and met a handful of scientists who became the catalyst for a fixation on studying glaciers. This interest led to a BS in Geology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). Sam had to repeat several high school courses, including Elementary Algebra (for the 4th time) at the age of 22. While Sam’s undergraduate took 8 years to finish, he was impatient to wait for the graduate-level-only focus on glaciology. Instead, he established his own field-based glacier research program. The program focused on rock debris that accumulates on the surface of glaciers and alters the melt rate, a topic that no other researcher at UAF was studying at the time and no global-scale models considered. The program was scrappy: relying on Sam’s interest in fast alpine travel and ultra marathon running to go where no one else could on such a tight budget. Where glaciologists would normally hire a helicopter, Sam took a $50 Craigslist mountain bike with Snowcats. While it took Sam an undue amount of effort to do his undergraduate coursework, he simultaneously wrote seven successful student research proposals, totaling $59,000, attended the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting in San Francisco three times with two awarded oral presentations, and wrote two first-author articles in the Journal of Glaciology and the Journal of Geophysical Research, published shortly after his graduation.

Straight from his undergraduate work, Sam was offered a PhD position at Northumbria University in Newcastle, UK. There, he expanded his research on debris cover to a global scale, a key step in turning knowledge gained in the field into societally relevant results. He finished his PhD in three years and published a chapter of his dissertation in Nature Geoscience. After his degree, a poorly timed return to the US in the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, three rejected proposals, and a handful of rejected postdoc applications was a recipe that very nearly left Sam homeless on the streets of Manhattan. Still, he remained singularly focused on conducting and publishing his glacier research and peer-reviewing other scientist’s work. He found a minimum wage job as a barista on the Jersey Shore and continues today pouring latte art to finance his science. Sam’s ability to contribute to science is evident in his publications, yet his temperament doesn't fit very well into a traditional academic setting. After putting $2,000 of publication fees for a 2021 journal article on his personal credit card, he realized the most good he could do for climate research is to reduce this burden for other self-motivated/independent researchers and, together with Lauren Moulder, founded the Open Climate Research Collective in 2022.

More information at

Lauren Moulder

Lauren Moulder earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in Art History, specializing in Cultural Heritage Preservation, from Rutgers University. Although she aimed to continue an academic career, studying the best practices for preserving cultural heritage in developing countries, personal circumstances and overwhelming demands within the academic landscape prevented her further progression. She shifted her focus to nonprofit work at the The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the largest museum and art nonproff in the United States. At the Met, Lauren held a range of positions, lastly as Senior Development Officer, fundraising for the museum’s curatorial departments. In 2021, Lauren transitioned to the burgeoning world of the metaverse, as the Business Manager for 3lbXR, a tech start-up focused on expanding the use of Virtual and Augmented Reality. She is excited to leverage her fundraising and business experience to support the most important cause of our time: combating climate change.

The origin story of OCRC. The gears in my mind began to turn when I was deep into my PhD and read an article in The Guardian about mental health and the competitive, uncertain and stressful pressures postdoctoral researchers often face. The article told the story of a researcher memorializing his officemate who committed suicide likely due, in part, to these pressures. Doing science – the act of learning what we don’t currently know – will always be hard, but the framework around the people doing this critical work we all depend on is a system of our creation and a system we can change if it is adding unproductive barriers and pressures.

For the remainder of my graduate studies, two recurring situations stood out to me. The first was hearing my peers lament that they had too many interesting stories packed into their datasets to publish and supervisors were generally reeling in ambition rather than encouraging it (logically so, given the difficulty of publishing and the relatively short duration of a PhD). The second was a prevalence of neurodiverse individuals struggling to fit the academic mold. There is no escaping that a scientist needs to be good at just about everything: creativity, critical thinking, math and physics, writing code, writing text, graphic design, keeping up on the scientific literature, outdoor skills for fieldwork, construction, electronics, logistics, networking, public speaking, and collaborating. Those who can do it all will likely excel in the academic world, but those who have very high strengths in some areas and deficiencies in others might make it far into the academic progression, but possibly stop short of the most important step: sealing accumulated knowledge in a collectively useful format. Publishing provides the individual a concrete line on their resume and hopefully a capstone to be proud of, but also provides all of us with one more piece of a complex Earth-system puzzle.

After my PhD, I entered the postdoc applicant pool and found myself as one of around 50 applicants vying for highly specialized positions in glaciology. During this process I started to see a large untapped potential: most or all of those 50 applicants have scientific knowledge that they have accumulated from their prior research, and they are clearly eager to work further and publish. Yet only 1 of 50 will be selected by the university. Given the large investment the university will make on one individual, it goes without question that they will vet applicants carefully against a series of criteria. But what if we didn’t care about whether the applicant can uproot their life and move to a common location, or how many hours they work, or what programming languages they use, or how well received their previous work was, or how sociable they are? And what if we funded 50% of applicants rather than 2%?

Publishing in peer-reviewed science journals is hard. It takes around 3 months to a year to move through the full publishing process, not including the prior work of writing a submittable first draft, which often takes even longer. It requires time, focus and persistence. I know this first hand. I have published a single author article while self funding on a ~30 hour work week as a barista. This split attention was incredibly draining and it took a large amount of sheer stubbornness to not quit out of frustration and exhaustion. I don’t know how many other researchers with half finished projects on their laptops will find the same “why” to take on this very personal burden like I have, but I also don’t think they should. Society should value those who publish in science journals and offer a mechanism to earn a livable wage outside of an allegiance to a university. Not nothing. Or in fact, less than nothing. After the effort of conducting novel science and bringing it through the peer review process, the for-profit journal I submitted to disregarded my financial disposition and gave me a ultimatum: give us $2000 to publish your work on our website or withdraw your article and start the intensive peer review process again (this story is told in pictures, documents and words here). Because my life’s ambition is to contribute useful climate change research to our mitigation of the climate crisis, I took on $2000 of personal credit card debt to finance the publication.

While a science journal absolutely needs to follow a business model that enables them to cover their operations, it seems poignantly wrong that these for-profit companies are peddling a commodity that is highly valuable (scientific knowledge) but somehow also free to them (other researches asked to review articles do so for free and authors ultimately pay the journal). Worse still, many journals, including the most prestigious, have paywalls preventing individuals unaffiliated with subscribing universities to have access to this knowledge.

From my academic upbringing, I understood that publishing my work in a prestigious journal, with a high impact factor and media ties, would be the best possible thing I could do to be able to continue working in academia. I took this to heart and managed to publish a chapter of my PhD thesis in Nature Geoscience, a well-respected journal in my field. This achievement should have brought me satisfaction, but I quickly realized the flaw in my efforts. While the short lived media attention was exciting, the actual impact of my work comes from researchers around the world reading, criticizing and building upon my work. However, this impact comes with an implicit barrier: the link to my article brings any researcher not affiliated to a subscribing university (or you) to an abstract teaser and a request for your credit card to access my words, figures and findings. The editorial process for this article was rigorous and exceptional, inline with the journal's prestige, but everyone involved, including me as a contributing author, are complicit in reaffirming this restricted access model. Clearly the advancement of human knowledge is not the sole motivation for their business. I believe this is where widespread system change can be made. OCRC is built strictly on the motivation to recognize untapped scientific productivity and move this knowledge into the open-access published record.

This system change will result in the expansion of individuals able to work and contribute to climate science, which opens the door to address an outstanding, and to-this-day persistent shortfall of universities: diversity. BIPOC researchers make up an unacceptably small fraction of climate scientists. While universities are making some effort, I, and the OCRC board, believe their work towards systemic change is too slow. We need every brilliant mind willing and available to work on understanding and mitigating the climate crisis right now. The lack of diversity found in climate research groups today is a clear indication that opportunity has not been a function of brilliance alone. By encouraging BIPOC researchers to apply for funding and having no selecting criteria beyond scientific publishing potential, OCRC will be a new avenue to have the demographic of climate science better reflect the demographic of the people on our planet. This effort is still not enough, because having scientific publishing potential means an already established footing in the upper levels of academia. This is why OCRC will also have a BIPOC mentorship program where each grant recipient will give a one-on-one introduction on what a scientist actually does, in today’s world, and how any high school or undergraduate student today could be among the next generation of climate scientists. It is this next generation of researchers who will, quite probably, be some of the most important people of our near future. –Sam Herreid