UCR Researcher to be Hosted by State Assembly Member in Science Translators Showcase

California Council on Science & Technology (CCST) Chooses Ph.D. Student to Translate Science to Policy Makers

Drew Story’s areas of interest are water and scientific literacy

Drew Story, Ph.D. student in chemical and environmental engineering with a designated emphasis in public policy, has been selected for the 2018 California Science Translators Showcase, Feb. 20, presented as part of the California Council on Science & Technology, or CCST, Science & Technology Week at the California State Capitol in Sacramento.

California State Assembly member Jose Medina is partnering with CCST  to host Story and 14 other graduate students and postdoctoral researchers to present their research in a casual setting; no lengthy presentations or PowerPoints, just an opportunity for young researchers to communicate science in a relatable way.

Story’s 60-second audition video to CCST  demonstrated that ability:

“Many household products currently contain nano-materials,” Story explains in his video, “…Do nano particles impact septic performance? Because if a septic system cannot do its job, California ground water is now at risk for pathogens such as E.coli…”

But behind Story’s straightforward explanation is years of highly technical research and experimentation, including the use of a comprehensive model of a human digestive tract and a model septic tank from the lab of Sharon Walker, professor of chemical and environmental engineering, and interim dean of the Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering.

CCST describes its selections for the showcase as those with “budding talent for communicating science.”

“Drew’s ability to distill highly complex, technical research into a 60-second video is remarkable and makes him the perfect science translator,” said Susan Hackwood, CCST executive director and professor of electrical and computer engineering at UCR. “He has an incredible talent bridging the gap between engineering and public policy and there are no limits to what he can and will accomplish in his career.”

Story’s bilingualism in science and policy is sure to pay off in Sacramento, where legislative and executive offices, plus members of the Capitol community are invited to “come for coffee, stay for science, “at the showcase, according to the CCST Facebook page.

Story credits his success, in part, to his completion of the designated emphasis in public policy at UCR. Now, more familiar with policy language and the priorities of policy makers, Story is confident that he’ll be able to translate research into action. The 28-year-old has his sights on a Science & Technology Policy Fellowship after his program.

Story is already setting the stage.  In 2017, Story and a colleague presented results of a project titled “Data for Water Decision Making in California” at a workshop hosted by CCST and other state departments.

It was there that Story met Hackwood, who in guiding Story strengthened his interest in an independent scientific advisory body such as CCST.

Story holds the Dean’s Innovation Fellowship at the Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering

“I want to spend my career connecting people; scientists and legislators, community members and regulators, industry and nonprofits,” said Story, who has an interest in California’s current events, state legislative, and political processes. “California is a leader on the world stage in its environmental and climate change policies. I believe there is room for improvement in California regarding natural resource management, mainly water resources, and I hope to contribute to this area.”

Story holds the Dean’s Innovation Fellowship at the Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering, where he is responsible for developing the Science and Technology Policy Program. He is also a committee member for the California Natural Resources Agency, where he supports work of the director of the Salton Sea Management Program. Prior, Story held an internship at The Nature Conservancy, where he was involved in projects around groundwater-dependent ecosystems. Story received his Bachelor of Science degree from LeTourneau University, Longview, Texas, with an educator certification in the physical sciences.

CCST is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization established via the California State Legislature in 1988. The council engages leading experts in science and technology to advise state policymakers — ensuring that California policy is strengthened and informed by scientific knowledge, research, and innovation.

The Science Translators Showcase is one of many events during CCST’s 2018 Science & Technology Week at the California State Capitol, celebrating the role of science in service to state policy and commemorating the 30th anniversary of CCST’s charter via the California State Legislature in 1988.



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