Timely Science Explained Clearly at State Capitol: Feb. 20th “Translators Showcase” to Connect California Grad Students with Members, Staff

translators300SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) has invited 15 talented graduate students and postdoctoral researchers to the California State Capitol to practice a crucial skill: translating science for policymakers.

The “California Science Translators Showcase” will take place on Tuesday, February 20th, from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the California State Capitol basement. This event is open to legislative and executive offices, as well as members of the Capitol community. Details and RSVP can be found here.

The event format intentionally breaks from academic tradition: instead of presenting large posters or lengthy slideshows packed with dense jargon, these 15 young scientists will simply be armed with their flair for conversation and their budding talent for communicating science.

“There is great demand for science advice in California – which means we need to train more scientists in the art of clear communication,” says CCST Executive Director Susan Hackwood, PhD. “That’s why we are hosting the Science Translators Showcase, to give early-career scientists more opportunities to practice explaining their research to a policy audience – and to highlight some really cool science directly relevant to state issues.”

Many in this inaugural class of CCST Science Translators are presenting at the Capitol Building for the first time in their career, and their areas of expertise span timely topics such as earthquake safety, wildfire management, water supply and water quality, and public health. The 15 presenters were recruited from University of California, California State University, Stanford, and Caltech campuses – all members of CCST’s network of institutional partners. Candidates had to submit audition videos in which they had to explain the relevance of their research in less than 60 seconds; the 15 invited presenters then underwent training webinars and other exercises to prepare for the networking event.

The CCST showcase was organized in partnership with California State Assemblymember Jose Medina (D-Riverside), Chair of the Assembly Committee on Higher Education.

“California makes discoveries and decisions that shape the rest of the world. That’s because we have the best higher education institutions and the best scientists,” says Assemblymember Medina. “This CCST Showcase is a great training opportunity for California’s student researchers. We need more scientists who can communicate clearly and better share their expertise with leaders in Sacramento. When scientists and policymakers can understand one another and work together, we can do great things for California.”

The Science Translators Showcase is one of many events during CCST’s 2018 Science & Technology Week at the California State Capitol, celebrating the role of science in service to state policy and commemorating the 30th anniversary of CCST’s charter via the California State Legislature in 1988.

The 2018 CCST California Science Translators:

Sarah Beganskas | PhD Candidate, UC Santa Cruz
Sarah will explain strategies to replenish California’s limited groundwater supplies.



Danny Broberg | PhD Student, UC Berkeley
Danny will explain why “point defect physics” are important for tech development.



Kenny Buyco | PhD Candidate, Caltech
Kenny will explain how we can improve seismic retrofit ratings for buildings.



Sonya Chalaka | Masters Student, UC San Francisco
Sonya will explain the relationship between adverse childhood experiences and asthma risk, and the importance of clinical prevention.


Joe Charbonnet | PhD Candidate, UC Berkeley
Joe will explain how new materials can help harness stormwater for municipal use.



Rylie Ellison | PhD Student, UC Davis
Rylie will explain innovations in treating dairy manure to meet clean air and water goals.


Patricia Gonzales | PhD Student, Stanford
Patricia will explain the potential for creating regional markets to expand water supplies in California.


Negin Hayatbini | PhD Candidate, UC Irvine
Negin will explain how extreme weather forecasting can help managers anticipate hydropower reliability.


Anne Hulsey | PhD Student, Stanford
Anne will explain strategies for cities to manage damaged buildings and optimize post-earthquake recovery.


Shannon Klotsko | Postdoctoral Researcher, San Diego State University
Shannon will explain how she is mapping geologic faults that run through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.


Aaron Nichols | Postdoctoral Researcher, Caltech
Aaron will explain how nicotine interacts with human cells, and our understanding of addiction.


Gabriel Pratt | PhD Student, UC San Diego
Gabriel will explain how we can eliminate “bad recipes” when analyzing genetic code when prospecting for biomedical cures.


Drew Story | PhD Student, UC Riverside
Drew will explain how nanoparticles in personal and household products might affect our sewers and water quality.


Jennifer Tribble | PhD Student, UCLA
Jenn will explain why we need to understand the neurobiology of PTSD.



Carmen Tubbesing | PhD Student, UC Berkeley
Carmen will explain current thinking in fire ecology and habitat management for wildfire risk.



Download This Announcement (PDF)

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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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