Scientists can play a critical role in informing public policy, yet most scientists lack the experience of working directly with government leaders in the lawmaking process. Now, teams in nine U.S. states will receive a planning grant to evaluate the potential to create a policy fellowship for scientists and engineers in their state capital.
The new grant is administered by the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST), to encourage other states to replicate or adapt its successful CCST Science & Technology Policy Fellowship (fellows.ccst.us). The planning grant will support each team in their feasibility study and other strategic steps towards creating an immersive science and technology policy fellowship program for their state. Funding for the grant was provided by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (www.moore.org) and the Simons Foundation (www.simonsfoundation.org).
“Our CCST Science Fellows gain valuable real-world experience working directly in the legislative process, while California state legislators gain access to impartial, science-savvy staff to help them make critical decisions,” says Annie Morgan, program manager for the CCST Science Fellows program. “We’ve learned so much from offering this public service and government leadership training experience for scientists and engineers, and we’re excited to share our insights with others around the U.S. aiming to create their own fellowship program.”
Since 2009, CCST has trained nearly 80 PhD scientists and engineers in the craft of policymaking in California. More than 50 percent of CCST Science Fellows have been hired by the California State Legislature or a state agency upon completing their fellowship. Other alumni enter industry or nonprofit careers, or return to academia with valuable insights on how to communicate science to policymakers.
“There is great value in assuring science informs policy. By embedding scientists in legislative offices, the CCST Science Fellows program infuses scientific knowledge and evidence into critical deliberations,” says Jon Kaye, a program director for the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. “It is inspiring to see the measurable success of the program in California, and we hope to see this model spread to other state capitals to create a national network of science advising programs.”
CCST will be hosting all nine teams during the 2017 AAAS Annual Meeting this weekend in Boston for a grant launch workshop, co-hosted with the AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowship program (www.aaas.org/program/science-technology-policy-fellowships). The CCST Science Fellows program itself was modeled after the AAAS program, which places scientists in congressional offices and federal agencies.
Host Institutions, Grant Point of Contact, and Selected Quotes, Listed by State
University of Alaska System
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Gwen Holdmann, Director, Alaska Center for Energy and Power, University of Alaska Fairbanks
“Science and policy — in an ideal world — are joined at the hip. It’s difficult to enact sound policy without understanding the underlying science, and the creation of new knowledge blossoms under a supportive policy regime.” — Gwen Holdmann
University of Colorado, Boulder – Center for Science and Technology Policy Research
Matthew L. Druckenmiller, PhD, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder
“Having participated in the AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowship program, I’ve seen firsthand how such experiences transform the perspectives and careers of scientists. I’m looking forward to creating the way for similar opportunities in Colorado — a state with a tremendous footprint within science and technology communities.” — Matthew Druckenmiller
Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering
Richard Strauss, Executive Director, Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering
“Development of a fellowship program for Connecticut will meet an important need by creating the capacity to expeditiously provide qualified advice and analyses on current science- and technology-related policy issues in a nonpartisan manner for the Connecticut General Assembly — while at the same time offering fellows invaluable experience in policymaking.” — Richard Strauss
“Idaho has a strong history of policy education and training, but this will be the first program focused on post-graduates. We are excited that highly talented Idahoans will be able to share their expertise with Idaho lawmakers — while at the same time gain an insider’s understanding of how the legislative process works, and the role of science in policy making.” — Jessica Marks
“Massachusetts has a long history of supporting science, and this grant gives scientists a new and powerful way to give back to the Commonwealth by directly helping legislators craft policy. In doing so, scientists and universities benefit by learning how to make science relevant to society and how to communicate science to the public.” — Nathan Phillips (2014 CCST Science Fellow)
“Our team at Michigan State University is very pleased to be receiving a planning grant through CCST to create a science and technology fellowship at the state capitol in Michigan. Our partners in the state legislature are also looking forward to a PhD scientist or engineer serving as a key resource on critical issues facing our state. We extend our appreciation to the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and Simons Foundation for their generosity and leadership to incentivize the creation of these science fellowships at the state level.” — David Bertram
“We welcome this opportunity to be part of a national network devoted to increasing interaction and improving communication between scientists and government. We hope to design pathways that will encourage more upper-level students in the natural sciences to consider devoting at least part of their careers to work in government.” — John Weingart
Duke University – Science & Society Initiative
Duke University – Sanford School of Public Policy
Duke University – Government Affairs Office
North Carolina Sea Grant
Andrew George, PhD Candidate, Duke University
Twitter: @DukeSci_Soc @DukeSanford @DukeU @SeaGrantNC
“North Carolina is rapidly growing, which comes with challenges in developing well-informed policy that will shape the expanding biotechnology industry, future agriculture management practices, and other environmental needs to support North Carolina’s diverse ecosystems and economies. This grant will allow us to take advantage of our numerous universities and the diverse STEM graduates that they train.” — Andrew George
Washington State Academy of Sciences
Washington State University – William D. Ruckelshaus Center
Melanie Roberts, PhD, Founding Director, Emerging Leaders in Science and Society (ELISS)
“I’ve lost count of the number of scientists and engineers who have asked me how to get involved in science policy at a state level, so I am thrilled that CCST is building a network focused on state science policy across the country. There will be many eager applicants for these additional state policy fellowships.” — Melanie Roberts
About the California Council on Science and Technology
CCST is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization established via the California State Legislature in 1988. We engage leading experts in science and technology to advise State policymakers — ensuring that California policy is strengthened and informed by scientific knowledge, research, and innovation. Explore how CCST makes California’s policies stronger with science at www.ccst.us.
About the CCST Science & Technology Policy Fellowship
The CCST Science Fellows program trains scientific thinkers to be policy-savvy, while helping equip California’s lawmakers with science-savvy staff. The program was established in 2009 with funds from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and other generous friends, and continues to rely on philanthropic foundations and individuals for support. Discover how our Science Fellows make a difference in California’s policy arena at fellows.ccst.us.