Science Empowering States

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

Few organizations in California understand how to communicate science to government lawmakers. Even fewer organizations have experience teaching PhD scientists how to provide such impartial advice, through year-long training fellowships.

And now, CCST will be the first to help other U.S. states create their own state policy training fellowships for scientists.

This year, partnerships in nine states are receiving seed funding to replicate or adapt our CCST Science & Technology Policy Fellowship program for their state government. Beginning with an all-day intensive workshop this week at the 2017 AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston, CCST will join with these nine teams, spanning Alaska to Connecticut, in a new, national network of state-level science policy training programs—greatly increasing opportunities to help scientists become policy-savvy, and to help equip state leaders with science-savvy advisors.

We owe this milestone effort to three organizations: the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, for their unwavering role in funding our CCST Science Fellows and this new replication grant; the Simons Foundation, for their contribution to the replication grant; and finally, AAAS, whose federal-level science policy fellowship served to model our California fellowship, and who have graciously offered to co-host our replication launch workshop in Boston.

Science should inform public policy. This is the simple, nonpartisan ideal that CCST upholds and shares here in Sacramento, and now with other state capitals. CCST measures its success not just where pen meets paper, but where dialogue is brokered between inquiring leaders and leading scientists, and where nascent conversations mature into trusted relationships between the politician and the academician.

When the Governor’s Office or the State Legislature calls for independent scientific assessments, CCST rises to the call and assembles issue-appropriate experts without bias. When a legislative or agency office adds another former CCST Science Fellow on staff because of their proven instinct and dedication, CCST works even harder to ensure the caliber of our fellowship recruiting and training.

This is because CCST understands the value of science informing policy, and the trust that grows when scientists successfully work together with policymakers. I look forward to sharing these lessons and gifts with our new colleagues—helping make state policies beyond California stronger with science.

On a final note, I want to extend my deep appreciation for our four departing CCST Council Members: Julie Meier Wright, Jeffrey Rudolph, David Martin, and George Blumenthal. It was our sincere pleasure and honor to work alongside these trusted colleagues, whose experience as leaders in California’s government, public outreach, industry, and higher education sectors have contributed much valuable insight to guide CCST’s mission, impact, and reach. Their careers in public service have contributed greatly to CCST—and to our great State of California.

Charlie Kennel, PhD, is the Chair of the Board of Directors of the California Council on Science and Technology. He is formerly the Director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Associate Administrator at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

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The California Council on Science and Technology is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization established via the California State Legislature to advise the State of California on issues of science and technology. Find CCST on Facebook at, on Twitter @CCSTorg, and on LinkedIn. Learn more about CCST at

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