Headlines for June 6, 2017
News from CCST
"In the Capitol, flexibility is key." For a PhD scientist adapting to life as a policy professional in the California State Legislature, the transition can bring many life lessons. In our latest "Fellows in Training" blogpost, 2017 CCST Science Fellow and University of Oregon PhD graduate Laura McWilliams reflects on achieving this "zen" of flexibility as a Capitol staffer.
For 2017 CCST Science Fellow and University of Maryland PhD graduate Bao-Ngoc Nguyen, living in Sacramento has revealed a world of policy, food, and culture. In another of our latest "Fellows in Training" blogposts, Nguyen reflects on her adjustment from the East Coast to "the Best Coast" --- including discovering Sacramento's thriving Vietnamese community.
News from Our Sustaining Institutions
The California Community Colleges - CCC Maker Program hosted its first culmination celebration on May 19th, coinciding with the annual Maker Faire Bay Area. The events showcased case studies from community colleges around California, united by the use of makerspaces for STEM education and STEM careers training. Participants included CCST Board Member and California Community Colleges Vice Chancellor Van Ton-Quinlivan and CCST Senior Program Associate Brie Lindsey PhD, who prepared the CCST report on community college makerspaces in California.
Diana Herrington, a math teacher at Clovis High School for 30 years and more recently a lecturer at Fresno State, passed away on May 17th. Herrington served on CCST's California Teacher Advisory Council from 2009 to 2012, and she was a White House Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching recipient in 1999. CCST conveys our sincere condolences to the Herrington family and to the Fresno STEM educators community --- and we celebrate the impact of Diana Herrington's talents and career.
Dear Friends and Colleagues:
It's interview season at CCST --- that time each year when we invite the finalists for our CCST Science & Technology Policy Fellowship to meet us in Sacramento, as we decide who will get to spend a year of government leadership training and public service in the California State Legislature.
The Class of 2018 finalists are all multi-talented PhD scientists with accomplished resumes in academic research, group leadership, and public communication, all ready to test their analytical acumen and individual fortitude as CCST Science Fellows staffing the Legislature. This year, we had to select our finalists from nearly 140 qualifying applicants --- a record number in the nine years of our fellowship recruitment. Only 10 spots can be filled, so the overwhelming interest in our program makes for intense competition and difficult decisions.
When I meet these promising applicants, I often think back to my own career transition --- back when I was the PhD scientist walking into the policy arena for the first time.
My first big opportunity came in 2005 with the California Natural Resources Agency, where I helped staff the Assistant Secretary for Ocean and Coastal Policy and worked with state leaders on the creation of the California Ocean Protection Council. From Sacramento, I headed to Washington DC, where I worked as a staffer in the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, navigating policy challenges such as open-ocean aquaculture, marine debris, and the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act.
The CCST Science Fellows program didn't exist at the time; the placements were made possible by the wonderful California Sea Grant Fellows Program and NOAA Sea Grant Knauss Fellowship, respectively.
Both experiences living and working in a Capitol culture were exhilarating --- and they shaped my professional foundation for years to come. As a scientist, the chance to solve real-world policy questions, convene high-level decision-makers, and work alongside whip-smart colleagues was incredibly satisfying. They validated my years of academic training, tested my critical thinking skills, and honed my intuition for diplomacy. More importantly, they gave me the confidence, comfort, and humility to take on great responsibility --- understanding that the access and assignment to advise and craft our state and nation's policies are a rare and entrusted privilege.
I am tremendously grateful for the investments that others made early in my career. These led to many wonderful career opportunities --- including the honor of serving as the Science Advisor and then Executive Director of the Ocean Protection Council, as an appointee during the Schwarzenegger administration --- full circle from my fellowship placements.
The investments that you each make in our CCST Science Fellows --- whether as a philanthropic funder, a mentor, or a friend --- will also make lasting impact. These scientists need our support today, so they can make change as leaders tomorrow.Sincerely,
Amber Mace, PhD
California Council on Science and Technology