Effective this month, the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) has a new deputy director. Dr. Amber Mace, associate director of the UC Davis Policy Institute for Energy, Environment and the Economy, will bring her experience and expertise leading effective science-policy organizations to the CCST team. In addition to providing strategic advice to the executive director and advancing CCST organizational goals, Mace will lead the California Science, Technology and Policy Fellows program, now entering its fifth year. Concurrently with her position at CCST, Mace will maintain her affiliation with the Policy Institute as a Policy Fellow advancing a regional climate adaptation initiative.
“Amber has been a part of the S&T Policy Fellows program since its inception as part of the selection committee,” said CCST Executive Director Susan Hackwood. “We are delighted that she will continue to bring her experience and expertise to the program in her new and more prominent role.”
The new deputy director is no stranger to the often complex juncture between policy and science. With a doctorate in ecology from UC Davis, she has led organizations focused on science-policy integration as well as policy development and implementation, as executive director of the California Ocean Science Trust and science advisor to the California Ocean Protection Council (OPC) as well as executive director of the California Ocean Protection Council (OPC) and assistant secretary for coastal matters at the California Natural Resources Agency in the Schwarzenegger and Brown administrations. She has also served as a Knauss Fellow in the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, and at the state level as a California Sea Grant state fellow at the California Natural Resources Agency.
“I have a long-standing interest in the interface between science and policy,” said Mace. “I’ve been very fortunate to have the opportunity to experience several sides of this interface, through my positions in California and Washington D.C.”
The California S&T Policy Fellows program, run by CCST, places up to ten professional scientists and engineers annually in the California State Legislature for one-year appointments. The fellows learn the intricacies of the California legislative process and provide legislators and their staffs with clear and objective advice, answers to technical questions, and clarification of policy options for issues with science and technology related attributes.
The program, which is now beginning its fifth year, is modeled after the successful American Association for the of Advancement of Science (AAAS) Congressional Fellowship program.
“The Fellows in the CCST program are of the highest caliber,” said Mace. “They have built an impressive record of tremendous accomplishments over the first four years, and demand has been consistently high for them each year. It is exciting to follow the successes of the fellows and to see the program continue to gain recognition.”
The S&T Policy Fellows program, initially funded for a limited duration by a coalition of non-profit foundations, has secured funding to continue past its initial five-year run and is making plans for the next five years. Additions to the program include a Fellows alumni network begun earlier this year, which helps former Fellows – many of whom have since gained jobs in state or federal government – maintain and expand upon the unique connections and experiences they share. The program is also exploring opportunities to expand into the executive branch in the coming years.
“We remain in close contact with AAAS, which was invaluable in providing guidance during the creation of the Fellows program,” said Mace. “This is the first program of its kind at the state level, which has provided California with a unique resource. AAAS partners such as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers are exploring how to replicate the program elsewhere.”
Mace has begun her tenure as deputy director with the intense “boot camp” training provided to the Fellows each year – a month long intensive training regimen covering the legislative process, the effective translation of science for policymakers, and tips for success in the legislative environment.
“CCST has a long history of providing objective and relevant science and technology advice to California and it’s been exciting to see the Fellow’s program achieve so much success in its first few years,” said Mace. “I look forward to helping CCST continue to expand and flourish in the years to come.”