RIVERSIDE, Calif. -- For the first time, a University of California, Riverside alumnus has received a California Science and Technology Policy Fellowship from the California Council on Science and Technology, a nonprofit organization that offers expert advice to the state government and recommends solutions to science- and technology-related policy issues.
Kyle Hiner, who graduated in August 2012 with a doctoral degree in physics and astronomy, was selected for the prestigious fellowship from a stellar pool of almost 100 applicants. As in previous years, only ten fellowships were offered for the 2012-2013 round.
Hiner, 29, specializes in the study of active black holes and their host galaxies. Specifically, he studied the intimate relationship between black hole growth and galaxy growth in a unique sample of galaxies at distances previously unreachable. For the distant galaxies he studied, he confirmed that black holes seem to grow first, and then their host galaxies have to catch up by having to grow very rapidly in just a few billion years.
Hiner grew up in Elk Grove, a suburb of Sacramento, Calif. Earlier this month, he returned to Sacramento to begin the one year fellowship. He received his bachelor's degree in physics from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. He joined UC Riverside in 2006 and soon thereafter worked with Gabriela Canalizo, an associate professor of physics and astronomy and his Ph.D. advisor.
"Right from the beginning, Kyle seemed to ask all the right questions and go after the most scientifically interesting problems," Canalizo said. "He always has a broad approach to research, trying to connect whatever he may be working on with the big picture. Politics and policy is a subject that he truly has a passion for. He has a sense of civic duty and a true desire to make a difference and have a positive influence in his environment."
During the fellowship, Hiner will be primarily responsible for reading and analyzing bills that are being debated by legislators. His specific responsibilities will depend on his placement; he will work for an Assembly member, a policy committee, or the Senate Office of Research.
"The fellowship is a great opportunity to learn about the legislative process in the state," he said. "The legislature has a need for people who are trained in interpreting scientific results, critical thinking, and analysis. As Ph.D. students, we have the highest level of training available in these areas. Our ability to analyze and synthesize ideas is valued by the legislature when considering the impact of proposed bills."
Hiner's interest in policy stems from a general desire to have an impact on his community.
"In academia I had a role in some education by giving talks on astronomy, attending a professional development workshop in education, and, most directly, through teaching assistantships," he said. "Working in the legislature is an opportunity for me to have a stronger voice in my community at the statewide level. I will have direct input in shaping policy this year, and I hope to effectuate some positive change in our state."
Inspired by scientists, philosophers, and innovative thinkers, Hiner appreciates people who have a passion for their work. While his personal ambitions are currently open, he is looking forward to exploring opportunities in government, the renewable energy industry, or mass transportation industry. His other interests include science literacy and education.
He is the recipient of a Dissertation Year Fellowship from the UCR Graduate Division, a Graduate Dean's Dissertation Research Grant and an American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics national undergraduate scholarship.
"I am confident that Kyle will foster a stimulating environment by creating opportunities for people to interact, collaborate, and have meaningful discussions," Canalizo said.
The base stipend of the California Science and Technology Policy Fellowship is $45,000. In addition, fellows receive relocation costs and additional allowances for health insurance, travel and professional development activities that support the fellowship experience. The first day of the fellowship is Nov. 1, 2012, and the last day is Oct. 31, 2013.
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