Policy Fellows Bring S&T Expertise to Legislature
The 2011-2012 class of S&T Policy Fellows.
The Fellows are serving one-year appointments in various offices in both the Senate and the Assembly.
As 2012 gets underway, lawmakers in Sacramento are returning to
confront the difficult fiscal challenges of the State. In addition they
will continue to navigate California's ever-evolving science and
technology related policy issues. Thanks to a small group of dedicated
experts, they have a little extra help.
The California Science and Technology Policy Fellowship program is in
its third year, and has placed ten professional scientists in yearlong
appointments in the California state legislature. The program is
designed to enable fellows to work hands-on with policymakers in
addressing complex scientific and technical issues. Modeled on a
longstanding program run by AAAS in Congress and modified for the unique
nature of the California Legislature, the California S&T Policy
Fellowship is the only state-level program of its kind today.
The intersection of science, technology and policy is a logistically
challenging one; navigating many issues, such as environmental impacts,
greenhouse gas emissions, or water management, can involve considerable
amounts of research and data. It is the Fellows' task to use their
analytical and research expertise to help bridge the gap between the
worlds of science and policy making.
"The Fellows bring a different perspective," said Marie Liu, a
consultant for the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee, which
has hosted a Fellow in each of the three years of the program. "In
crafting policy, you want as many perspectives as possible. The Fellows,
having PhDs, are taught to think critically... They ask good questions,
and add a lot of value to the process."
The S&T Policy Fellows begin their term each Fall with a rigorous
month long 'boot camp' training regimen, during which they are
introduced to the realities of working in the Legislature and the
specialized skills needed to be successful in their assigned Fellowship
roles. They are placed in their legislative offices in early December to
work under the guidance of mentors from the legislative staff.
The Fellows' commitment to bringing their expertise to the policy
sector doesn't end with the completion of the year-long fellowships,
however. Following their time in the Legislature, many Fellows have
continued employment in the public sector, with several obtaining jobs
in the Legislative staff and executive agencies of California; one has
been recruited to work as staff to the President's Council of Advisors
on Science and Technology in the White House. In the first years of the
program, the S&T Policy Fellows have been well received by the
Legislature and their experiences have helped to shape their ongoing
"The Senate's standing committees and Chairs have uniformly expressed
deep satisfaction with the many contributions of these highly-qualified
Fellows to the policymaking work of the state Senate," said Senate
President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg.
"I strongly believe that the S&T Fellows provide lasting
contributions," added Assembly Member Nancy Skinner, "both through the
immediate policy impacts during their tenure and, in many cases, through
their ongoing scientific and technical contributions to policy
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