News Release

UA team plans a science advisory program for Arizona lawmakers

Civil engineering professor leads collaboration toward science-based policymaking

Grant and Award Announcement

University of Arizona College of Engineering

UArizona College of Engineering Science Advisory Program


Kevin Lansey says the planning team hopes to provide Arizona with the same rewards other states have seen by establishing STPFs.

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Credit: University of Arizona College of Engineering

Civil and architectural engineering and mechanics professor Kevin Lansey is leading an interdisciplinary team of University of Arizona faculty and students taking the first steps toward establishing a science and technology policy fellowship, or STPF.

The policy fellowship would provide the Arizona Legislature with nonpartisan counsel on the state’s most critical issues – water management, heat mitigation, transportation and industrial development, for example.

A 12-month grant of $100,000 from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation is funding the planning phase. The NCSL provides bipartisan policy research, training resources and technical assistance to U.S. legislators and staff members.

Lansey is the project’s principal investigator and is working with Shelley Littin, a systems engineering master’s student; Caitlyn Hall, a biosystems engineering assistant professor of practice; and Sam Myers, a planetary sciences doctoral candidate.

Forming Consensus

STPFs have already been established in about 10 states; the UA team is among only five new groups in the nation funded in 2023 to begin planning for programs.

“We were aware of successful programs in other states and had made inquiries about an Arizona STPF program to a few legislators a few years ago with some positive feedback, so when NCSL opened the call, we were excited to apply,” Lansey said.

Kevin Lansey says the planning team hopes to provide Arizona with the same rewards other states have seen by establishing STPFs.

A 25-member advisory committee – including faculty from Arizona’s three state universities, community leaders, and representatives from industry and state agencies – is aiding in the planning.

Lansey and the group have three goals by Oct. 31, 2024: determine program operation and integration within the Arizona Legislature; develop a process to select, retain, and educate fellows in science policy; and identify funding sources to support the STPF. 

Statewide Benefits

Postgraduate fellows in the STPFs typically are trained in science policy procedures and practices prior to joining the program and throughout their tenure, said Lansey. Fellows in other states tend to be recent master’s and doctoral graduates who want to learn how to contribute to policymaking as part of their career paths. But they’re not limited to that group, he said.

“The STPF program is expected to attract and retain local scientific, engineering, and public health talent within Arizona. Since this program aims to engage universities, industry, and government stakeholders, we expect to foster collaboration that will lead to more public initiatives and knowledge transfer opportunities across sectors.”

The UA’s Science Policy and Diplomacy Initiative and the Arizona Institute for Resilience in the Office of Research, Innovation, and Impact are set to administer the program. 

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