CCST Awards Reception Lauds Science-Informed State Leaders, Celebrates Scientific Innovation in California
May 4, 2018 | CONTACT: Ben Landis, firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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
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
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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