- Science and Engineering Policy At Caltech (SEPAC) is a student-led club that focuses on the intersection between science and policy.
Our primary goal is to facilitate discussions on science policy issues of interest to the student body at Caltech. We organize student-led discussions on a variety of topics once a month, and bring in Caltech and outside speakers many times a year to speak on science policy issues. We also periodically coordinate workshops on science communication, and take science policy-related trips to Washington, D.C. and Sacremento, CA.
SEPAC partners regularly with the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Outreach, the Caltech Y Social Activism Speaker Series, and the Caltech Office of Government Relations. We receive funding from the Graduate Student Council, the Moore-Hufstedler Fund, the Caltech Alumni Association, Student Affairs, the Linde Center, and the Office of Government Relations.
President: Hannah Allen
Hannah Allen is a 4th year graduate student studying atmospheric chemistry.
Her research focuses on using mass spectrometry to investigate atmospheric
chemical phenomena in both the lab and the field. She has been involved in
SEPAC since she first got to Caltech, learning a ton from the many different
policymakers and science advocates she’s met with as a member of the group. As
president, she is very excited to pass on that knowledge to other students who
have an interest in science policy. When not conducting research in a
windowless subbasement laboratory or exploring the world with a mass spec in an
airplane, she is typically reading, hiking, or dancing.
Vice President: Anna Ho
Anna Ho cried the first time she saw the Milky Way (she was 16.) Now, she uses
telescopes all over the Earth and in space to investigate the most energetic
explosions in the universe: the catastrophic deaths of stars. Through SEPAC,
she's met with staffers on Capitol Hill
and participated in the UCS summer
symposium on international security. Outside her day (night?) job, she can
usually be found in some superposition of hiking, exploring LA, journaling,
telling the public about her research, and reading Medieval literature.
Secretary: Sophia Charan
Sophia Charan studies the formation of Secondary Organic Aerosol (some of the
stuff in the air that's bad for you). She is also an avid reader/discusser of
all types of domestic policies. When not writing about herself in the third
person, Sophia enjoys reading, baking, making papier-mâché figures, and
exploring new places.
Treasurer: Krystal Vasquez
Krystal grew up in a state where mountains regularly disappear because of the
smog. It’s almost magical. But it’s also why she now spends her time studying
numerous atmospheric reactions to unravel how biogenic emissions and human
pollution mix to make those all to regular hazy days we see here at Caltech. As
someone whose research has implications in air quality and climate change, it
only makes sense that science policy and science communication inevitably found
their way into her life. However, when she’s not working (which is when
exactly?), her ground state configuration involves writing for her blog,
finding yummy places to eat or casually wandering through LA hiking trails.
Outreach Director: Kevin Shen
Kevin builds mathematical models how charged polymers like RNA and proteins
phase separate into nanoparticles and membraneless organelles. His social media
vice is scrolling through his Google newsfeed and worrying about technology and
energy policies. Kevin is very much a night owl and has taken up the odd habit of
going for strolls in the quiet depths of night.
Our email list is the best way to find out what we're doing. Otherwise, we try to keep this calendar updated with science policy events at Caltech put on by SEPAC and our affiliates.
To see a record of some past events and trips, please visit our facebook.
December 1 (Friday): SEPAC lunch discussion: Food Sustainability
Agriculture accounts for 9% of greenhouse gas emissions from the U.S.
Industrial fertilizers are produced from fossil fuels and often the fertilizer
run-off from agriculture contaminates eco-systems and reduces biodiversity.
- An article (with a bit of an agenda) on dependence of food system on
- A more comprehensive site (still
with an agenda) with more data
- A Danish life cycle analysis
on various food types.
November 2(Thursday): Focus Group + White Paper Lunch
We are going to start a focus group to learn about science policy topics in
more detail. The idea is to read various papers and documents and meet to
discuss them, and ultimately even get practice writing (and maybe publishing!)
op-eds. The schedule and format is TBD, so we're going to have a planning
meeting on Thursday November 2, at noon. If you're interested, please bring
your lunch and join us in Linde+Robinson room 136.
For the first meeting we'll be following up on our space traffic lunch
discussion by reading pages 9-36 of this
October 5 (Thursday): SEPAC Lunch Discussion: Our Space-Traffic Problem
In 2009, the first satellite-satellite collision was a wake-up call that outer
space is getting crowded. There are 1500 active satellites owned by a network
of nations and companies, outnumbered by thousands of inactive satellites and
millions of pieces of debris. The consequence is an increasing and now
significant risk of collisions. Over lunch, we will discuss the space traffic
problem, the lack of a system that can manage it, and what might be done to
protect the environment around Earth.
- Commentary on the problem in spacenews
and in the NYTimes
- Data on orbital debris and satellites
- Recent testimony for the US Senate
- Testimony from 2014 for the US House of Representatives
Located on the top floor of Millikan Library.
AAAS Science and Technology Fellowships
Apply by November
12-month fellowship starting in September
AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowships (STPF) provide opportunities to outstanding scientists and engineers to learn first-hand about policymaking and contribute their knowledge and analytical skills in the policy realm. Fellows serve yearlong assignments in the federal government and represent a broad range of backgrounds, disciplines, and career stages. Each year, STPF adds to a growing corps over 3,000 strong of policy-savvy leaders working across academia, government, nonprofits, and industry to serve the nation and citizens around the world.
California Science and Technology Policy Fellowship
Apply by February
12-month fellowship starting in November
The CCST Science & Technology Policy Fellowship provides year of public service and government leadership training for scientists and engineers — grow your career while making a difference in California's policy arena.
Communicating Science (ComSciCon) Workshop
Cambridge, MA (and other locations)
Apply by March 1
3-day workshop in June
Participants will build the communication skills that scientists and other technical professionals need to express complex ideas to their peers, experts in other fields, and the general public. There will be panel discussions on the following topics: Communicating with Non-Scientific Audiences through Media Outlets; Communicating through Policy and Advocacy; Communicating through Creative Outlets and Storytelling; Communicating through Education and Outreach; Communicating with Diverse Audiences. In addition to these discussions, ample time is allotted for interacting with the experts and with attendees from throughout the country to discuss science communication and develop science outreach collaborations. Workshop participants will produce an original piece of science writing and receive feedback from workshop attendees and professional science communicators, including journalists, authors, public policy advocates, educators, and more.
AGI/AIPG Summer Internships
Application deadlines throughout year
12-14 week internship
Be a Critical Issues Program Intern with the American Geosciences Institute! The Critical Issues Program supports well-informed public and individual decision making by providing relevant geoscience information on critical issues to decision makers at all levels, with particular emphasis on the state and local levels. The Critical Issues program makes geoscience information more discoverable to decision makers through our website, webinar series, forums, and research database. We offer two Critical Issues internships, a summer position focused on developing geoscience-based content for the program’s website, and a fall internship focused on organizing a Critical Issues Forum and supporting a range of program activities. You must be a U.S. citizen to apply. Summer interns should be enrolled in, or have recently completed, a geoscience or geo-related engineering bachelor's or master's degree program. Fall interns should have a broad geoscience background and be enrolled in, or have recently completed, a bachelor’s or master’s degree.
Union of Concerned Scientists: International Summer Symposium
Funded in part by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation, the International
Summer Symposium on Science and World Affairs encourages the development of
young security analysts, researchers, and policy makers.
Since the first meeting in 1989, the symposium has hosted over 500 scientists
and researchers in China, Russia, Germany, the United States, and elsewhere.
The symposium aims to encourage and cultivate young scientists working on
international security issues, and to expand and diversify the international
arms control community.
Past symposiums led to the establishment of the first independent arms control
research center in Russia; the first program on peace research and education in
Pakistan; and the first university-based security and arms control studies
program in China.
Presidential Innovation Fellowship
Apply by early December
12-month fellowship starting in the spring
The PIF program pairs talented, diverse individuals with top civil servants in federal government to tackle many of our nation's biggest challenges. A six-month or one-year tour of duty as a PIF is an amazing way to create a profound and lasting social impact.
Office of Science and Technology Internship Program
Application deadlines throughout year
The Office of Science and Technology Policy is currently accepting applications for its Internship Programs. Interns are accepted for one of three annual terms (Spring, Summer, or Fall), which each last no more than 90 days. While these positions are without compensation, the assignments provide educational enrichment, practical work experience, and network opportunities with other individuals in the science and technology policy arena. The Office of Science and Technology Policy advises the President on the effects of science and technology on domestic and international affairs. The office serves as a source of scientific and technological analysis and judgment for the President with respect to major policies, plans and programs of the Federal Government. Students who are U.S. citizens are welcome to apply.
The Christine Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Graduate Fellowship Program
Applications due in the fall
12-week fellowship starting in January
The Christine Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Graduate Fellowship Program, now in its 19th year, is a full-time hands-on training and educational program that provides early career individuals with the opportunity to spend 12 weeks at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Washington, DC learning about science and technology policy and the role that scientists and engineers play in advising the nation.
CFR Stanton Nuclear Security Fellowship
Washington, DC or New York City, NY
Applications due in December
12-month fellowship starting in September
The Stanton Nuclear Security Fellowship (SNSF) Program offers younger scholars studying nuclear security issues the opportunity to spend a period of twelve months at the Council on Foreign Relations’ (CFR) offices in New York or Washington, DC, conducting policy-relevant research. The fellows could work on a wide range of issues, including nuclear terrorism, nuclear proliferation, nuclear weapons, nuclear force posture, and, as it relates to nuclear security, nuclear energy. Must be post-doc or early career faculty to apply.
Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes Science Immersion
Applications due in March
Workshops in May/June
Science Outside the Lab, presented by Arizona State University’s Center for Engagement & Training in Science & Society (CENTSS), explores the relationships among science, policy, and societal outcomes in a place where many important decisions about these things are made – Washington, D.C. During the two-week workshop, students will meet and interact with the people who fund, regulate, shape, critique, publicize and study science, including congressional staffers, funding agency officers, lobbyists, regulators, journalists, academics, museum curators and others.
For event information, sign up for the [mailing list].
Although you do not need to be Caltech-affiliated to sign
up for the list, the above link will only work if you are
connected to Caltech campus internet. If that is not possible,
simply e-mail us at [sepac (at) caltech.edu] to get