Headlines for April 13, 2018
Greetings from Sacramento
Dear Friends and Colleagues:
Our Spotlight newsletter is back after a hiatus --- and I hope you enjoy our return to form.
Over the past several months, all of us at CCST have been hard at work, fulfilling our original charter to "respond appropriately to the Governor, the Legislature, and other relevant entities on public policy issues significantly related to science and technology."
Carrying out this responsibility is particularly poignant for all of us this year, for September 2018 marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of CCST via Assembly Concurrent Resolution 162 (1988), led by then-Assemblymember Sam Farr and then-State Senator John Garamendi.
Ever since, we have endeavored to help make California's policies stronger with science, and these recent months in particular saw ample examples of our service to state government.
In December, we launched a new Capitol event series, CCST Expert Briefings, which brings leading experts to Sacramento to brief legislative and executive staff on timely topics at the science/policy interface. Our first event focused on hepatitis A, a topic that had the attention of our legislative sponsors --- Senator Ed Hernandez and the Senate Health Committee, Senator Ben Hueso, Assemblymember Todd Gloria, Assemblymember Brian Maienschein, and Assemblymember Jim Wood.
With assistance from the Health Officers Association of California, CCST convened medical researchers from UC San Diego, Stanford, and state, county, and nonprofit institutions to explain both the biology and the policy implications of hepatitis A outbreaks. All attendees left with a CCST One Pager in hand summarizing these facts and analyses in clear, concise fashion. After all, scientific knowledge must be translated and communicated well in order to inform decisions.
Efforts like this paved the way for our next major contribution --- delivery of our CCST Commissioned Report "Long-term Viability of Underground Natural Gas Storage in California" to Governor Jerry Brown and the Public Utilities Commission. Prepared in response to the Aliso Canyon incident, more than 20 expert authors contributed to this 1,000 page analysis. But much more important than the page count is our information delivery --- once again, producing concise briefings, easy-to-read one pagers, and explaining the findings at one-on-one meetings with legislative and agency leaders.
The culmination of our recent labors came with the revival of CCST Science & Technology Week in February --- a celebration of science in the service of California policymaking, and the kickoff to CCST's 30th anniversary year.
But I will save that for a special S&T Week recap edition of Spotlight, coming soon to you. Please do look out for this issue, which looks back at our Science Translators Showcase, Nobel Laureates visit, the four honorable recipients of our first-ever CCST Leadership Awards, and so much more.
Until then, the best of the spring season to you all. And I hope you will join CCST throughout 2018 at our many planned events --- commemorating thirty years of our service to California and Californians.
With My Thanks,
News from CCST
Two noted leaders in science policy --- and two of CCST's longtime champions --- have penned new editorials in the nation's top scientific journals calling for the integration of science advice into state-level policymaking, citing the CCST Science & Technology Policy Fellowship as a model to follow.
Published in the February 27th edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and in the April 6th edition of Science magazine, the twin commentaries make the case for institutionalizing science advice access within state-level policymaking. Citing the success of the AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowship at the federal level, Mary Maxon and Bruce Alberts further review the role that CCST Science Fellows have played here in Sacramento. The PNAS article in particular presents insights and observations from fellowship alumni --- lending evidence to the role that CCST Science Fellows are playing in providing helpful science advice and analysis within the California State Legislature.
The CCST Science & Technology Policy Fellowship program is made possible by champions like the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, where program directors like Jon Kaye PhD understand the importance of sustaining policymaker access to impartial science advice. In a recent blogpost, Jon reflected on his own journey as a marine scientist transitioning to a science policy career via the AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowship, and how that experience continues to inform his work today in philanthropy. Read on for Jon's take:
Our CCST Science Fellows
The ninth year of our CCST Science & Technology Policy Fellowship is well underway. They arrived in Sacramento last November and have been hard at work staffing the California State Legislature --- and they bring with them scientific training from the likes of Stanford, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, Yale, Harvard, Carnegie Mellon, University of Wisconsin-Madison, UMass Boston, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.
These talented PhD scientists and engineers will experience a year of public service and government leadership training while getting the chance to explore a career in public policy. At the same time, state leaders will benefit from access to highly skilled, science-savvy staff to advise them on legislative issues and priorities. CCST is glowing with pride for our latest fellowship cohort --- please join us in wishing them a successful year!
Resuming our "Fellows in Training" blogpost series, 2018 CCST Science Fellow Amy Gilson PhD took time to reflect on the "policy boot camp" training --- which all of our fellows undertake to begin their year in Sacramento. Read on for a glimpse of life as a CCST Science Fellow, and the insights they gain as they enter service inside California's State Capitol.
Amy Gilson's CCST Science & Technology Policy Fellowship placement is with the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Commitee.
Our CCST Institutions And Affiliates
The leading monthly magazine covering Sacramento business affairs, Comstock's recently showcased the CCC Maker program in a feature story. Seeded by the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office, the initiative is activating community college campuses around California as regional makerspace hubs. A CCST Commissioned Report completed in 2016 (mentioned in the Comtock's story) provided the roadmap for this statewide effort, which aims to cultivate a STEM workforce and energize the innovation economy in California.
The California Community Colleges System is a State Sustaining Institution of CCST.
The Center for Autonomous Systems and Technologies (CAST) at Caltech is developing an aerial, robot ambulance --- one that could some day fly into difficult-to-reach disaster zones to deliver aid or airlift a human passenger to safety. It is just one of the many "moonshot" research and development directions underway at CAST, which is a collaborative effort of Caltech and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Caltech is a State Sustaining Institution of CCST, and NASA JPL is a Federal Laboratory Affiliate of CCST.
CCST in Pictures
FAREWELL, 2017 CCST SCIENCE FELLOWS: Taken on the night of their fellowship year's end in October, this photo sums up the camaraderie that united our 2017 Class. And they are off to fantastic careers, finding employment with TechNet, NRDC, the California State Senate, the Legislative Black Caucus, the FDA, to name a few destinations. Click here to read their class farewell, penned by Mike Peterson PhD.
NATURAL GAS STORAGE REPORT: CCST delivered its report on the long-term viability of underground natural gas storage in California to state leaders this January. A CCST Expert Briefing summarizing the report findings was held in the State Capitol with report contributors Jens Berkholzer PhD, Jane Long PhD, Curt Oldenburg PhD, and Jeffery Greenblatt PhD, along with Project Director Amber Mace PhD and Project Manager Sarah Brady PhD.
CCST AT AAAS IN ATX: Once again, a CCST contingent attended the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), held in Austin, Texas this recent February. California connections abounded, from a brief meetup with Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks) to recruiting prospective CCST Science Fellows in the Exhibit Hall, to joining the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and our State Fellowship Planning Grant partners for a roundtable update.
TODAY'S FELLOWS, TOMORROW'S LEADERS: 2018 CCST Science Fellow Monica Montano PhD, 2017 CCST Science Fellow Bish Paul PhD, and 2012 CCST Science Fellow Dharia McGrew PhD were among those sharing honors at the April 10th Equality California awards ceremony in Sacramento. McGrew, Montano, and Paul are Board Members of the Capitol LGBTQ Association, which Paul helped establish during his fellowship year. For its leadership and service, the association was given the "Community Empowerment Award" by Equality California.