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UC Day in Washington, DC


UC Davis invited trainees from two of its IGERT programs, Michael Levy (Climate Change, Water, and Society — CCWAS) and Mary E. Mendoza (Responding to Rapid Environmental Change — REACH) to speak on behalf of UC Davis graduate students at UC Day in Washington, DC. Levy, a first year graduate student in Ecology and recipient of the Ecological Society of America’s Graduate Student Policy Award in 2011, and Mendoza, a third year graduate student in History and recipient of a 2013 Ford Foundation Fellowship, met with congressional staffers and members of the US House of Representatives. They spoke to staff on the House Committee for Science, Space and Technology about the critical role of social and interdisciplinary science in advancing national priorities, and met with members of the House of Representatives Ami Bera, John Garamendi, and Doris Matsui and staffers from the offices of Tom McClintock, Mike Thompson, and Senator Barbara Boxer to emphasize the importance of federally-funded programs such as IGERT in training a generation of scientists who can work across disciplines to solve the complex, multifaceted problems facing the country. According to Mendoza, “[We] were able to communicate effectively that IGERT is extremely beneficial, in large part because it may be one of the only functional mechanisms for combining both the natural and the social sciences to allow researchers to have a more holistic understanding of what is actually going on in any given place or time.”

Address Goals

Mendoza and Levy articulately described the role that IGERT can play in addressing research questions that have implications for public policy. For example, Mendoza told Congressman John Garamendi about her cohort’s REACH IGERT project that focused on balancing ecological, economic, and social ramifications of river restoration projects. Garamendi was so intrigued by the 2010 REACH cohort’s approach that he asked Mendoza to share the results from the project. Levy shared with Congressman Bera how the recent CCWAS workshop on the Future of Water in California was directed toward integrating science and policy to ensure an adequate supply of water for all sectors of society and the environment. Staff from Congressman Bera’s office will communicate with Mendoza and Levy about helping to prepare materials about IGERT efforts for an upcoming congressional hearing that will address the future of funding for graduate education.