Federal agency climate leader and UC Davis alumnus Dr. Katharine (Kit) Batten has been named the new executive director of the UC Davis Policy Institute for Energy, Environment and the Economy.
The Policy Institute leverages university expertise to inform energy, climate and transportation policies, bringing together scientific researchers and decision-makers.
“Kit Batten is an extraordinary leader with a great ability to connect science and policy through fact-based research,” said Director Dan Sperling of the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies. “She has the ideal background to take the Policy Institute to the next level: strong research skills, extensive policy experience, and a commitment to leveraging university research to inform decision making. Plus she has a strong connection to UC Davis and California.”
In 2011, Batten was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as global climate change coordinator, responsible for an annual budget of approximately $350 million in worldwide climate change mitigation and adaptation projects for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). A Washington, D.C.-based U.S. federal government agency created by President John F. Kennedy, USAID works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential.
“My passion is to ensure that the best available science and research influences public policy, and it has driven my career,” said Batten. “I am honored to return to UC Davis after a decade of policy making in Washington, DC to connect the cutting-edge research conducted on campus to state, federal and international policy.”
Prior to USAID, Batten served as a senior science and policy fellow and program director at the H. John Heinz III center for Science, Economics and the Environment; as a science advisor to the deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior; and as senior fellow/managing director for energy and environmental policy at the Center for American Progress. She also held positions in the offices of Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT). Batten earned a bachelor degree in chemistry from Oberlin College and masters and doctoral degrees in ecology from UC Davis.
In California, the West, and nationally, the Policy Institute plays a leading role in leveraging university expertise to inform energy, climate, and transportation policies—acting as a bridge between scientific researchers and decision-makers. The Policy Institute engages in all aspects of the policy process: understanding the needs of policymakers to inform research questions and projects, proactively delivering accessible and timely research findings to legislative and administrative leadership and staff, and undertaking analysis and evaluation to improve existing policies.
Policy Institute Acting Director James Bushnell, Associate Professor of Economics at UC Davis, applauded Batten’s appointment.
“The Policy Institute serves a unique and needed role provided by few other organizations,” said Bushnell. “Kit is well versed at helping scientists convey their research findings to better inform lawmakers and the media. I can’t think of any more capable hands than Kit’s to help the Policy Institute continue to evolve and grow in stature and influence.”
Now in its fourth year, the Policy Institute will be led by Bushnell until September 1, when Batten takes the helm as executive director.