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Nine states explore science policy fellowships

February 23, 2017
By: Ellen Marrison

After training nearly 80 PhD scientists and engineers in the craft of policy making, the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) has awarded planning grants to nine other states to evaluate the potential to create a policy fellowship for scientists and engineers in their state capital.  The new one-year grant, which is administered by CCST and funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Simons Foundation, will support teams in Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Washington as they work on feasibility studies and other strategic steps toward creating science fellowships in their state policy arenas. It is up to each state to design the fellowship that would work best in their state, whether that is a position in the legislature or another body.

“We are nurturing that larger landscape between science and policy,” said Annie Morgan, program manager for the CCST science fellows program. Because each state has different needs, it will be up to the planning teams to determine how best to structure a fellowship in their individual states. The grant, which was capped at $25,000 per state, will help fund the planning stage, but CCST will not manage or fund the positions once they are established. “What we are trying to do is nurture growth,” Morgan said.

The grant is intended for states to replicate the CCST model, which was originally modeled after the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) program where scientists are placed in congressional offices and federal agencies for a year of public service and government leadership training.

Morgan said that the science policy fellowship program in California, now in its ninth year, has been so successful that it was “a no-brainer that other states would benefit from this kind of program.” More than 50 percent of the fellows who completed the CCST program have gone on to work in the California state legislature or a state agency, others entered industry or nonprofit careers or returned to academia. Of the nine states receiving the planning grants, three teams are led by former CCST or AAAS fellows.*

Although science policy is receiving increasing attention on a political front, CCST completed a landscape analysis for the program two years ago and remains a non-partisan organization. “We just encourage fact-based decision making and want to put science on the table,” Morgan said. 

*An earlier version of the story identified them all as CCST alumni.

Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Washingtonscience policy