Science Policy Fellows Program

UC San Diego is a world-renowned research institution with intellectual depths in engineering, medicine, and marine and earth sciences. It is home to GPS, with faculty expertise in policy and the practical application of research for strategic decision-making. Through cross campus collaboration, the Science Policy Fellows Program bridges these areas of excellence.

Since its launch in 2014, the program has motivated graduate students from UC San Diego’s STEM-related doctoral programs to put a policy twist on their already established scientific research, investigating from a broader view how their work makes a difference in the world.

Ph.D. candidates at UC San Diego, including at Jacobs School of Engineering, Scripps Institution of Oceanography and School of Medicine, are paired with a GPS faculty member who guides them out of their technical comfort zones—sans lab goggles, test tubes or thermometers—to explore the policy relevance and implications of their dissertation research.

With an emphasis on interdisciplinary training and closing the gap between physical and social sciences across campus, the Science Policy Fellows Program arms participants with an awareness of the practical applications of their specializations. Ultimately, fellows hone a multidisciplinary perspective to create well-informed responses addressing today’s global challenges.

Upcoming Event

There are no events scheduled at this time.

Featured Event

Dec. 8, 2016 | “Water in the West: A Science Policy Roundtable”
Presented by the School of Global Policy and Strategy’s Science Policy Fellows Program and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s Science Policy Discussion Group, this roundtable explored the sources of California’s water supply, how it is used throughout the state and best practices for optimal regulation of its use. Panelist: 

  • Daniel Cayan, Director, California Applications Program and Research Meteorologist, Scripps Oceanography
  • Marty Ralph, Director, Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes, Scripps Oceanography
  • Jennifer Burney, Assistant Professor, GPS
  • Sandra Kerl, Deputy General Manager, San Diego County Water Authority

Listen now to Jennifer Burney and Marty Ralph featured Dec. 8 on KPBS, “San Diego Climate Scientists Strive To Better Impact Public Policy” (audio)

Read a recap of the event "Variability biggest bane of water in the West"

Watch the video

Program Description

For one to two years, selected fellows work closely with a faculty mentor from GPS who has expertise in a public policy sector relevant to their dissertation concentration. Each fellow also annually receives a $1,000 stipend.

The program kicks off with an intake meeting, where selected fellows discuss their research goals with the program’s executive committee to determine an appropriate mentor. Once paired, fellows meet regularly with their mentors for consultations, attend policy-oriented events on campus and begin making contacts in the field.

There are three signature events associated with the program and are open to the public.

Science Policy Roundtable (Fall quarter)
Using research currently being conducted by GPS or other UC San Diego faculty, this roundtable explores the intersection of science and policy with real world situations.

  • 2014 Roundtable on "China’s Pending Airpocolypse: How can science and policy forestall the inevitable?" with speakers Junjie Zhang and Deborah Seligsohn, with remarks by Barry Naughton (download event flyer)

Careers at the Nexus of Science and Policy (Winter quarter)
Bringing together top practitioners who work with both policy and science, this panel discussion explores career opportunities for students. 

Fellow’s Research Presentation (Spring quarter)
The public is invited to hear the fellows present on their findings.

In addition, fellows will be invited to sit in on policy-related seminars, workshops and courses, as determined in the summer intake meeting.

Eligibility & Application

Candidates must be a Ph.D. student from UC San Diego’s STEM-related Ph.D. programs such as JSOE, SIO, SOM or the Divisions of Biological Sciences and Physical Sciences and must secure approval from their departmental advisor.

Applications for 2016–17 cycle are now closed.

News and Media

Variability biggest bane of water in the West
Dec. 14, 2016 | By By Sarah Pfledderer | GPS News
GPS’s Science Policy Fellows Program gathered scientist and policy experts from across campus and San Diego to traverse the hard-hitting topic of California’s water supply

From the benchtop to the real world
By Sarah Pfledderer | GPS News
In its second year, GPS’s Science Policy Fellows Program continues emphasizing the policy impacts of scientific research

Medicine’s Wild West — Unlicensed Stem-Cell Clinics in the United States (PDF)
Sept. 10, 2015, by Hermes Taylor-Weiner, Ph.D., and Joshua Graff Zivin, Ph.D.
Taylor-Weiner, an inaugural Science Policy Fellow recipient, and his faculty mentor, GPS Professor Graff Zivin, co-author in The New England Journal of Medicine about their resulting research from the program regarding unlicensed stem-cell clinics in the U.S.

Blending science and policy
June 26, 2015, by Sarah Pfledderer | View photos
Hermes Taylor-Weiner perhaps explains the purpose of the Science Policy Fellows Program best. In brief, it allowed him to look at his research through a lens other than his lab goggles. “As a basic scientist, it is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture,” he said. “The Science Policy Fellows Program gave me the opportunity to see how the technologies I work with on the bench top are affecting people today.”

China’s ‘airpocalypse’ discussed at first Science Policy Fellows event
Dec. 11, 2014, by Anthony King | View photos
In a first-of-its-kind event for the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IR/PS), professor Junjie Zhang, an expert in Chinese economics related to the environment, and Deborah Seligsohn, an environmental governance researcher, discussed the intersection of policy and science in regards to China’s ongoing pollution problem.

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