Ecological Society of America Graduate Student Policy Award Alumni Network 

Sarah Anderson (2014)

SarahAndersonHow the program impacted me:  Through the ESA GSPA award, I learned a lot about the federal budget, how to talk to congressional policy-makers, and what my congressional offices are like.  It was an interesting mental exercise to tie the work I do every day to something a congressperson or staffer would care about, like a line in the federal budget; it gave me an appreciation for the context of my research in a broader national and societal setting.

What I’m up to now: I am continuing to work on my PhD studying atmospheric deposition of nitrogen in the northwestern United States.

Contact email: sarah.anderson2@email.wsu.edu

Matt Berg (2013)

mattBergHow the program impacted me:  The GSPA program gave me tremendous insight into the development of science policy and helped me hone the skills necessary to make a lasting impact in this arena. I built relationships on Capitol Hill that I still rely on to bring forward a variety of issues to my elected representatives.

What I'm up to now: I completed my PhD in May 2014 and currently am trying to decide on my next steps.

Contact email: mattberg03@gmail.com

Drew Bingham (2014)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHow the program impacted me:  I'd say there were two main ways the program impacted me.  The first was that it inspired me to become more engaged with my local representatives.  From afar, it's easy to become cynical and think that politicians only care about special interests.  But I realized they do pay attention to their constituents and unless we make our voices heard, they will only hear from one side of an issue.  The second impact was just to reinforce my desire to look for a job when I graduate that works on that interface of science and policy to facilitate better management decisions.

What I’m up to now: I'm still with the National Park Service and planning to graduate in December from CSU, at which point I'll be looking to transition to a job in ecology / policy.

Contact email: drebin8@gmail.com

Lindsey Deel (2013)

Lindsey Deel for GSPA websiteHow the program impacted me:  The GSPA gave me insight into what goes on beyond science in the world of academia.  It has given me a whole new perspective on defining the goals and implications of the work I do.

What I'm up to now: I'm working on finishing my PhD in Geography at West Virginia University.

Contact email: lindsay.deel@gmail.com

Alexis Erwin (2010)

GSPA website ALEXISHow the program impacted me: I'm grateful to the GSPA program for launching my involvement in other ESA policy activities. I was elected Student Liaison to the Policy Section, helped develop An Ecologist's Guidebook for Policy Engagement, co-organized two Symposia about the science-policy interface at our Annual Meeting, and was appointed to a three-year term on the Public Affairs Committee.

What I'm up to now: After completing a dissertation on plant-insect interactions at Cornell, I spent a stint at the International Rice Research Institute. I currently serve as a CCST Fellow at the California Senate Energy Committee and am co-developing a graduate curriculum in translational ecology with colleagues at SESYNC. In September, I will begin work on sustainable development and food security as an AAAS Fellow at USAID's Africa Bureau.

Contact email: alexis.c.erwin@gmail.com

Dan Evans (2011)

GSPA website DanHow the program impacted me: It strengthened my ability to communicate that scientific research is vital to maintaining social and economic progress. It helped me to understand how all of us constituents can better influence Members of Congress. And it permitted me to meet new people at the Ecological Society of America who remain friends and professional colleagues.

What I'm doing now: I'm an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the US Forest Service Office of Policy Analysis.

Contact: daniel.evans103@gmail.com

Sara Kuebbing (2012)

Sara-KuebbingHow the program impacted me: As a GSPA recipient, I expanded my network of scientists and policy analysts and I learned first-hand how to engage with representatives and policy makers to promote sound science policies.

What I'm up to now: I have joined Professor Mark Bradford's ecosystem ecology lab at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies as a Gaylord Donnelley Postdoctoral Environmental Fellow where I'll be studying the impacts of co-occurring nonnative, invasive plants on ecosystem functioning. I am staying active in science policy and promoting sound policies regarding invasive plant species by collaborating with the National Environmental Coalition on Invasive Species and the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy.

Contact email: sara.kuebbing@yale.edu

Michael Levy (2011)

GSPA website LevyHow the program impacted me: My GSPA experience gave me an experiential understanding of the lobbying and policy making processes -- what had been abstract was made human and concrete. This gave me the confidence to work with policy makers and helped me define a career path at the interface of science and policy.

What I'm up to now: I am a PhD student in the Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior at the University of California, Davis where we work to understand how policies designed to protect our natural resources can be made more effective. I use quantitative and complex systems tools including statistical modeling, network analysis, and agent-based modeling to understand the dynamics of coupled social-environmental systems.

Contact email: malevy@ucdavis.edu, Website: http://environmentalpolicy.ucdavis.edu/people/levy

Caitlin McDonough Mackenzie (2013)

GSPA-website-CMMHow the program impacted me: When the awarded trip to DC to lobby for federal funding for ecological research coincided with the Sequester of my field season funding, my meetings with legislative staffers gained a new immediacy. The program, and ‘The Ecologist Goes to Washington’ podcast stretched my science communication skills and introduced me to an amazing network of scientists working outside of academia.

What I'm up to now: I am still a PhD candidate at Boston University and still doing fieldwork studying plant communities in Acadia National Park. In Acadia, I work closely with the resource management staff and my research will supports the creation of a Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment for the park.

Contact email: mackenz@bu.edu

Brittany West Marsden (2014)

B  Marsden PicHow the program impacted me: Communicating why our research is important and relevant is essential and one of the most important aspects of being a scientist.  So, sharing the impact of my research with our elected representatives during congressional visits was incredibly empowering and made me feel like I am doing my part to ensure that our government representatives are informed and scientifically literate.  Interacting with other scientists who have pursued careers outside of research during ESA’s GSPA training also made me think more deeply about how I want to collaborate with broad, interdisciplinary networks of scientists and policy makers in my future to effectively address pertinent environmental and ecological issues.

What I'm up to now:  I am currently in the final stages of completing my dissertation at the University of Maryland and plan on graduating within the next year.  The positive experience I had with the GSPA encouraged me to pursue post-doctoral fellowship opportunities that emphasize links to science policy, such as the Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship and Science & Technology Policy Fellowships.

Contact Email: marsden.brittany@gmail.comWebsite: brittanywestmarsden.wordpress.com

Kellen Marshall (2011)

KellenMarshallHow the program impacted me: Being selected as a Graduate Student Policy Award recipient was an enriching experience that confirmed my interest in participating in the policy realm as a scientist.

What I'm up to now: Currently I am in the process of developing opportunities for conversing with policy makers to support their basic understanding of the current state of environmental issues in the state of Illinois with an organization called Vital Lands Illinois.  I am supporting this effort so that policy makers have access to basic necessary knowledge on natural resource matters, its connection to public health, education and our state’s economy using the best data available so that they may develop more informed positions on such matters.

Contact email: kmarsh9@uic.edu

Adam Rosenblatt (2012)

GSPA website AdamHow the program impacted me: Being selected for the Graduate Student Policy Award was a great honor, and it allowed me to learn about how science policy is made at the national level and led me to appreciate the effort that goes into crafting public policy. It confirmed my interest in how governments make decisions about science and I have continued to pursue those interests at the state and local levels.

What I'm up to now: I am currently a postdoctoral associate at the Yale Climate and Energy Institute in New Haven, CT. My research at Yale focuses on the effects of climate change on ecosystem and food web dynamics as well as the social dimensions and international politics of climate change.

Contact email: arose007@fiu.edu

Matthew Trager (2008)

TragerHow the program impacted me: When pursuing a graduate degree in science, even one in an “applied” field, it is very easy to overestimate the role of science in policy and decision making. The GSPA trip provided a valuable reminder to me that scientists should be prepared to explain why their work is interesting or important and that, in doing so, we may encounter substantial disagreement about the appropriate roles of science and scientists in society.

What I'm up to now:  I completed my Ph.D. in ecology in 2009 and since 2010 I have worked for the U.S. Forest Service as NEPA coordinator, planner and analyst.  I currently work for the National Forests in Florida where my background in law and ecology has allowed me to provide both policy- and science-based contributions to resource management.

Contact email: mdtrager@fs.fed.us

Johanna Varner (2014)

GSPA-website-Johanna-VarnerHow the program impacted me: The GSPA trip and Congressional Visits day was a fabulous opportunity for me to learn more about how science policy is made and how to interact with a diversity of political views about investment in basic science. I definitely feel more prepared to engage in future policy initiatives.

What I'm up to now: I am still working to finish my PhD about climate change and alpine ecosystems. I am also working to develop citizen science monitoring programs for potentially sensitive species in the mountains.

Contact email: johanna.varner@utah.edu

Dena Velano (2007)

Dena-VelanoHow the program impacted me: The GSPA program offered me an exhilarating opportunity to communicate science to members of Congress and greatly influenced my desire to work at the interface of science and policy.

What I'm up to now I'm currently an ORISE Research Fellow at the U.S. EPA, where I work to advance federal activities related to net zero military partnerships, community sustainability and air quality monitoring. This role expands on my experience as a AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow in the EPA Office of Research and Development (2011-2013).

Contact email:  vallano.dena@epa.gov