As we continue to evolve the organization and innovate our approach, I’m proud of CCST’s increasing ability to engage its network of experts and deliver actionable science advice to California decision makers. For example, as California faces larger and more destructive wildfires, we are working with our world-class partner institutions to help the state use its resources wisely and efficiently to protect Californians. Last year, we delivered a series of briefings exploring the effects on Californians and potential methods for wildfire mitigation in the state. We’ll be continuing these efforts in partnership with the Moore Foundation as we assess the potential costs and losses of wildfires to the state in an upcoming peer-reviewed study.
With our 2019 class, we celebrated 10 years of CCST Science & Technology Policy Fellows, placing PhD scientists directly into State offices with decision makers. Through an innovative public-private partnership and an $11.5 million investment from the State, we have been able to expand the CCST Science Fellows program in size, scope, and impact—increasing the number of fellows from 10 to 15 and, for the first time, offering placement in the State’s Executive Branch. This expansion began with our 2020 fellows, whom we welcomed for training in November 2019. This investment, along with a $5 million pledge from the Moore Foundation, provides the bedrock for a $30 million endowment we envision will eventually fund the Fellowship program in perpetuity.
As we look to the future, our society faces a period of unprecedented change and uncertainty. Rapid geopolitical shifts, climate change, and the economic reverberations of a global pandemic are forcing us to reimagine the way we live and work. As decision makers confront new challenges and opportunities, science and technology have arguably never been more important to the security and prosperity of California’s citizens. We look forward to helping California’s leaders navigate these uncharted waters in 2020 and beyond.
— PETER COWHEY, PhD
Dean, UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy
A CCST Expert Briefing Series
Urgent issues, rapid response
Our state has faced devastating wildfires. Decision makers were moving quickly to determine policies and procedures and needed solid information fast. CCST’s expertise is experts. We convened four wildfire briefings attended by over 200 staff from the Capitol community. Four main topics were covered, including emerging technologies for real-time response, forest management practices, environmental impacts of wildfires, and the uses of woody biomass from wildfire mitigation. The featured experts were adept at communicating and accessible to decision makers.
Coming in 2020
What are the economic impacts of wildfires in California? Recognizing that wildfires will remain a preeminent challenge for California for the foreseeable future, the Moore Foundation has funded CCST to produce a peer-reviewed report on the costs and losses of wildfires in California. The report will highlight key issues and synthesize the current scientific knowledge to help decision makers optimize resources for wildfire prevention, response, and recovery to protect Californians.
10 Years of Engaging Scientists with Decision Makers
The 2019 class marked our 10th year of placing PhDs directly into legislative offices and committees. Altogether, CCST Science Fellows have worked on over 1,000 bills, briefings, hearings, and bill analyses. There are now 98 alumni of the program, many of whom serve in positions in legislative offices and agencies. With the arrival of the 2020 class in November, 113 CCST Science Fellows have now been trained to work directly with decision makers as trusted staff.
In 2019, CCST solicited an independent evaluation of the first 10 years of the program. The findings show that the fellowship has been tremendously impactful and has created a very strong reputation among fellows and mentors. Of the fellows surveyed, 88% report currently working in a position that includes both science and policy.
For more details on our activities throughout 2019, including the membership of our Board of Directors, our Partners, highlights from Science & Technology Week, and more, download our Annual Report (PDF).
About the California Council on Science and Technology
The California Council on Science and Technology is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization established via the California State Legislature — making California’s policies stronger with science since 1988. We engage leading experts in science and technology to advise State decision makers — ensuring that California policy is strengthened and informed by scientific knowledge, research, and innovation.