Introducing the 2022 Class of CCST Science & Technology Policy Fellows

Headshots of the 2022 Fellows in a grid on a blue background
2022 CCST Science & Technology Policy Fellows


SACRAMENTO, CA—We are excited to introduce the 2022 Class of CCST Science & Technology Policy Fellows. Now celebrating its 13th year, the program places PhD level scientists, engineers, and social scientists in Legislative and Executive Branch offices, training them for careers in public policy while helping to equip California’s decision makers with science-savvy staff.

These sixteen PhD scientists arrived in Sacramento in November, where they participated in our annual policy training program — a crash course on the process, history, and landscape of California policymaking, as well as skills development and communications workshops to prepare them for the intense, dynamic pace of the Capitol policy world.

Fellows placed in the California State Legislature work on policy committees and in member offices in the California State Senate and Assembly. Fellows placed in the Executive Branch work in California State Agencies and in offices of the Governor. The program is made possible by the State of California as well as continued philanthropic support.

This year, their technical expertise includes fields spanning environmental toxicology, bioengineering, lithium-ion battery chemistry, neuroscience of opioid addiction, the biochemistry of Valley Fever, the biostatistics of heart-healthy dietary patterns, maladaptive decision making and addiction, chemical engineering for microchips, the biogeochemistry of mercury, biochemical tools for medicine development, 3D imaging of batteries, the ecology of mate preferences, developmental psychology of strength in difficult contexts, airborne impacts of dust and wildfire smoke, gender and antigay bias in the labor market, and investigating novel therapeutic targets for brain disorders.


The 2022 CCST S&T Policy Fellows in blue masks standing in front of the California State Capitol doors
The 2022 CCST Science & Technology Policy Fellows in front of the California State Capitol in Sacramento, California.


Our 2022 CCST S&T Policy Fellows have completed PhD research at the likes of Michigan State University, UC San Francisco, UC Berkeley, UC Los Angeles, Washington University in St. Louis, UC Davis, University of Washington, University of Minnesota, University of Michigan, Colorado School of Mines, University of Oklahoma, UC Riverside, UC San Diego, Stanford University, and Baylor College of Medicine.

Who are these talented, passionate professionals, and which offices are they working in now?

Let’s meet our 2022 CCST Science & Technology Policy Fellows:


California State Assembly:

Headshots of the Fellows placed in the Assembly in a grid

Javier A. Garcia | Assembly Education Committee
PhD: Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, UC Davis

Aaron Kurz | Assembly Transportation Committee
PhD: Environmental Biogeochemistry, University of Michigan

Natalie Seitzman | Assembly Utilities & Energy Committee
PhD: Materials Science, Colorado School of Mines

Alec Watts | Assembly Judiciary Committee
PhD: Sociology, Stanford University

Manar Zaghlula | Assembly Environmental Safety & Toxic Materials Committee
PhD: Translational Biology and Molecular Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine


California State Senate:

Headshots of the Fellows placed in the Senate in a grid

Stephen Cutie | Office of Senator Pan
PhD: Bioengineering, UCSF – UC Berkeley

Andrew Dawson | Senate Housing Committee
PhD: Chemistry, UCLA

Hannah E. Frye | Senate Business, Professions, & Economic Development Committee
PhD: Neuroscience, Washington Univ. in St. Louis

Zoe R. Guttman | Office of Senator Portantino
PhD: Neuroscience, UCLA

Jacob O’Connor | Senate Environmental Quality Committee
PhD: Biochemistry, University of Washington


Executive Branch:

Headshots of the Fellows placed in the Executive Branch in a grid

Alexandra Colón-Rodríguez | Governor’s Office of Planning and Research: Precision Medicine Initiative
PhD: Neuroscience and Environmental Toxicology, Michigan State University

Natalie Gasca | California Department of Pesticide Regulation
PhD: Biostatistics, University of Washington

Michael Karavolias | California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GoBiz)
PhD: Chemical Engineering, University of Minnesota

Montrai A. Spikes | California Strategic Growth Council
PhD: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Oklahoma

Agnes Varghese | California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES)
PhD: Developmental Psychology, UC Riverside

Kara Voss | California Department of Insurance
PhD: Oceanography, UC San Diego


See the full roster:

Square headshots of the fellows in a grid on white background with a group shot of the Fellows in masks up top
2022 CCST Science & Technology Policy Fellows


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 and technology since 1988. We engage 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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