CCST Awards Reception Lauds Science-Informed State Leaders, Celebrates Scientific Innovation in California

May 4, 2018 | ,   | Contact: Ben Landis

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The 2018 S&T Week culminated in the inaugural CCST Leadership Awards and Reception – a shining night of networking and bonding as we formally introduced the 2018 Class of CCST Science Fellows to the Capitol community and unveiled the inaugural recipients of our Leadership Awards.

On the night of February 21st at Cafeteria 15L in downtown Sacramento, attendees found a gala space transformed into CCST colors and the theme of “Science at Your Service”. A new, interconnected poster exhibit featuring CCST’s State Sustaining Institutions and Federal Laboratory Affiliates highlighted the incredible scientific and economic contributions of UC, Cal State, California Community Colleges, Stanford, and Caltech campuses, as well as NASA and U.S. Department of Energy National Labs.

The hundred-strong crowd included legislative leaders such as Senator Ben Allen(D-Santa Monica), Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), Assembly Minority Leader Brian Dahle (R-Bieber), and Assemblymember Bill Quirk PhD (D-Hayward), and staff from nearly 20 legislative offices and policy organizations, including the British Council. Also attending were CCST Board and Council Members, federal labs directors and staff, and CCST Science Fellows and alumni.

The event kicked off with a few words from CCST Executive Director Susan Hackwood, who recognized CCST’s role for the last 30 years in making California’s policies stronger with science. Longtime Stanford professor and new CCST Council chair Jim Sweeney spoke about the importance of science in informing policy and his involvement with CCST over the last 20 years. And Deputy Director Amber Mace formally introduced the 2018 CCST Science Fellows to the Capitol community.

It was then onto the main event: presentation of the inaugural CCST Leadership Awards.

Created to recognize current and former California state leaders whose consideration of science and technology have made a difference in the Golden State, four award categories were announced, along with their recipients:

Senator Nancy Skinner was honored with the CCST Science in Policy Mentorship Award for her lifelong commitment to energy, natural resources, and the environment and her willingness to share her deep policy knowledge with the CCST Science Fellows. “Successful future leaders arise from dedicated mentors today, and this is particularly true for our CCST Science Fellows program,” said Amber Mace ahead of the event. “Over the course of her Assembly career, Senator Skinner mentored CCST Science Fellows on four occasions – and all four Science Fellows have gone on to successful careers in public policy, including one current Chief-0f-Staff and one current Committee Consultant. The lessons our Science Fellows learned while with her office have made a lasting impact on their individual paths in policy and public service, and for that, we are most grateful to have Senator Skinner accept our 2018 Science in Policy Mentorship Award.”

Secretary of State Alex Padilla was honored with the CCST Science in Public Service Award for translating his engineering background into a distinguished career in policy and public service. “Not many seasoned policymakers can boast of their beginnings as an engineering student at MIT,” said Amber Mace. “Secretary Padilla not only comes from a science and technology tradition, but as a California state legislator, he repeatedly leveraged scientific curiosity towards finding solutions in the public interest, from earthquake safety to energy policy. His long career serves as a wonderful model to scientists and engineers pondering a professional path in public service, and we are most honored to have Secretary Padilla accept our 2018 CCST Science in Public Service Award.” – Amber Mace, CCST Deputy Director

Assemblymember Jay Obernolte was presented with the CCST Frontiers in Technology Policy Award for his dedication to addressing the impact of new technology on Californians through his efforts in cybersecurity, efficiency, and modernization. “Assemblymember Obernolte has parlayed his computer science training at Caltech and UCLA and his technology industry experience into a career in state leadership,” said Amber Mace. “He has repeatedly considered the role and impact of data accessibility and security in his legislative actions – maintaining a vigilance for the potential implications of new technology in order to anticipate unmet needs in California’s policies. For that, we are most pleased to have Assemblymember Obernolte accept our 2018 CCST Frontiers in Technology Policy Award.”

Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin was presented with the CCST Emerging Science Champion Award for her leadership on issues involving innovation, cybersecurity, and the environment. “As a second-term legislator, Assemblymember Irwin has already made waves with significant bills encouraging the application of science and technology towards California’s economic and societal well-being,” said Amber Mace. “Nationally, she has taken leadership as Chair of the Cybersecurity Task Force for the National Conference of State Legislators. In California, her work on AB 2664 brought fresh energy to boost research entrepreneurship at UC campuses, keeping California at the forefront of global innovation. Inspiring and fitting for a UC San Diego engineering alumna – and among the many reasons we are excited to have Assemblymember Irwin accept our 2018 CCST Emerging Science Champion Award.”

The remainder of the evening saw fruitful conversations among leaders in science and technology from across the State of California. It was a rare yet pleasant sight – with time and hope, a more commonplace one – to find state legislators, staffers, distinguished professors and researchers, directors of NASA and DOE National Labs, STEM educators, and young Capitol professionals all united under one roof. Their shared energy, dedication to public service, and collective curiosity for possibilities reaffirmed our belief that California’s policies are truly stronger with science – and that CCST must do its best to serve this community and carry on its important mission in the decades to come.

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 in 1988. CCST engages leading experts in science and technology to advise state policymakers – ensuring that California policy is strengthened and informed by scientific knowledge, research, and innovation.

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