California Program Sends Scientists to Sacramento, Training PhD’s as Capitol Staffers

December 1, 2015 | ,  

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California’s State Legislature is looking for a few good scientists to trade their lab coats for business suits, and swap molecules and equations for committee hearings and bill analyses.

That’s the opportunity being offered by the CCST Science & Technology Policy Fellowship, led by the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST). CCST is now seeking applicants for its 2017 Fellowship class, and applications opened this week on December 1st.

“CCST’s mission is for science to inform decision-making in California,” says CCST Deputy Director Amber Mace, who oversees the fellowship program. “And what better way to do that than to embed PhD scientists directly with decision-makers? So CCST created a program to train and mentor scientists and engineers in the policymaking process, and place them as staffers with Assembly and Senate offices in the California State Legislature.”

The Fellowship is open to scientists holding a PhD degree, professional engineers, medical doctors, and those holding equivalent degrees in veterinary medicine, dentistry, and certain social sciences. Fellowship placements have included both Democratic and Republican legislators in the Assembly and Senate. About 10 fellows are accepted each year from around the country, with degrees from more than 30 institutions including Stanford, Cornell, Duke, Emory, and University of California campuses.

“Our Policy Fellows experience a year of public service and leadership training, and the chance to explore a career in California’s policy arena,” says Mace. “At the same time, the State Legislature benefits from access to highly skilled, science-savvy staff to inform their work.”

Mace herself holds a PhD in Marine Ecology from the University of California, Davis, and upon completion, she spent two years as a Sea Grant policy fellow, first with the California Natural Resources Agency, and then with the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. Mace would go on to lead the California Ocean Protection Council and serve as Assistant Secretary for Coastal Matters at the California Natural Resources Agency.

“California has one of the largest economies in the world, and so many of the critical issues facing our state today — water, energy, and public health, just to name a few — requires a deep understanding of science,” says Mace. “California’s policies are stronger with science, and the CCST fellowship helps the State Legislature access some of the talent and staff they need to make informed decisions.”

Applications for the CCST Science & Technology Policy Fellowship are due on February 29th, 2016. Prospective applicants and donors are invited to visit our science fellows page and our blog for more information.


CCST Deputy Director Amber Mace is available for interviews. Please contact Mace at [email protected].

Download this news release as a PDF.

The California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) is a nonpartisan, impartial, not-for-profit corporation established via California State Assembly Concurrent Resolution (ACR 162) in 1988. CCST engages leading experts in science and technology to provide expert advice to state policymakers, ensuring California policy is informed by sound scientific knowledge in science, technology, innovation, and STEM education. Learn more at

The CCST Science & Technology Policy Fellowship is made possible by philanthropic sponsors. The program was launched in 2008 with support from institutional and individual donors, led by a $3.5 million gift from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Learn more at here, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Logo of the CCST Science & Technology Policy Fellows program

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