October 30, 2015

Working at the Intersection of Science, Policy and Politics / West Coast Sustainable Transportation Policy Update

Time

1:40 p.m. – 3:00 p.m

Location

1605 Tilia Street, Room 1103, West Village

Speaker(s)

Colin Murphy, Climate Policy Advocate, NextGen Climate America

Abstract

Science, in one form or another, influences almost every aspect of public policy. Scientists have an important role to play in ensuring that, as much as possible, public policy gets science “right”. This often requires stepping out of the communities which trained us and adopting new methods of communication. The need for scientists to engage in policy making as advocates often conflicts with our training to be objective evaluators of data and balancing these two imperatives is the key to effectively engaging with policy without sacrificing credibility. In the first part of this talk, I will offer some perspectives on how science engages with the policy process based on my year in the California Legislature as a Science & Technology Policy Fellow with the California Council on Science & Technology, as well as my current position working with a climate-change focused nonprofit organization. I will discuss how scientists can engage with policy making from within their current roles and what career options are available for those interested in policy.

In the second part of this talk, I will discuss events of the last year relating to sustainable transportation policy, particularly on the West Coast of the U.S., including several efforts which NextGen Climate America and other NGOs contributed to.

Biographical Sketch

Born and raised in Northern California and fascinated by science from an early age, I work to help bridge the worlds of science and governance in order to promote sustainable transportation and energy systems. I started my career as a biomedical engineer before shifting focus to the problems of public policy and climate change. My graduate work focused on Life Cycle Analysis of advanced biofuel systems and I’ve been engaged in alternative fuels research and policy development for several years, as a Science Fellow in the California Legislature and now as an advocate. I hold a B.S. in Biological Systems Engineering from UC Davis, an M.S. in Science, Technology and Public Policy from the Rochester Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. in Transportation Technology and Policy from the UC Davis. I am constantly thinking about science communication and how to balance the need to maintain objectivity in science against the need to proactively engage in the policy making process.