How Do Policymakers Access and Use Data to Address Complex Problems?

How Do Policymakers Access and Use Data to Address Complex Problems from Security & Sustainability Forum on Vimeo.

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Wednesday, November 13, 2019 – 12:30 to 2:00 PM EST

Science is foundational to life and the planet as we know it. Policymakers understand this, as do scientists. However, the boundary spanning between policymakers and scientists does not come naturally. Given the current vulnerabilities faced by places, people, ecosystems, and markets, it is essential to create more opportunities for policymakers and scientists to work effectively together. The dynamic tension created by the “pull” of policy and the “push” of science to be more relevant can create more durable and productive policies, while also facilitating stronger relationships between the scientific and decision-making communities.

In advance of the National Council for Science and the Environment 2020 Annual Conference on Science in Environmental Decision-Making, this webinar explored examples shared by policymakers and scientists that demonstrate how evidence can more effectively serve decision-making.

Watch as the National Council for Science and the Environment, The School of Sustainability at Arizona State University, and SSF explore opportunities for innovative governance structures at the science-policy interface.


Melanie Stansbury serves in the New Mexico State House of Representatives. Melanie’s vision is to grow New Mexico’s local economy and meaningful jobs, rebuild our infrastructure and schools, lift up our communities and families, ensure our energy and water security, and honor and celebrate the unique cultures and landscapes that make us who we are.

Melanie is a native New Mexican that has spent her life working on community development and natural resource issues, including working with state, local, tribal, and non-profit organizations and in the White House Office of Management and Budget and United States Senate. Her service on behalf of NM House District 28 is rooted in a grassroots and community-based approach.

Jeffery Warren, Research Director, North Carolina Policy Collaboratory.

Formally trained as a marine geologist, Jeff Warren has spent the past fifteen years in State-level science policy positions, including the coastal hazards policy specialist for the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management (2004 to 2010) and the science advisor for the North Carolina Senate President Pro Tempore (2011 to 2017).

Warren earned his BSc from the University of Arizona (1994), his MSc from Auburn University (1997), and his PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2006). Warren’s academic research included field sites in the southeastern US, northern Mexico, the East and South China Seas, and Antarctica.

Daniel Sarewitz, Co-Director, Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes, Arizona State University.

Daniel Sarewitz’s work focuses on revealing the connections between science policy decisions, scientific research and social outcomes.

Sarewitz edits the magazine Issues in Science and Technology, and is a regular columnist for Nature magazine. His article “Saving Science,” a broad assessment of the current crisis of quality and public value in the American research system, appeared in the summer 2016 issue of The New Atlantis magazine. His most recent book is The Techno-Human Condition (MIT Press, 2011), co-authored with Braden Allenby. Visit the CSPO online library for more.

He now directs CSPO’s office in Washington, DC, and focuses his efforts on a range of activities to increase CSPO’s impact on federal science and technology policy processes, and its contributions to the public dialogue on the social and political aspects of scientific and technological change.

Diana Epstein, OMB Evidence Team Lead, White House Office of Management and Budget.

Diana Epstein is the Evidence Team Lead at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The Evidence Team collaborates with other OMB offices on setting research priorities and appropriate evaluation methodologies, embedding findings from research and other forms of evidence into program design, and developing agency capacity to build and use evidence. The team also provides expert advice and technical assistance on evidence-related activities and initiatives for a broad range of Federal agencies and functions.

Diana was previously a research and evaluation manager at the Corporation for National and Community Service, and before that she worked as a program evaluator and policy analyst at Abt Associates, the American Institutes for Research, and the RAND Corporation. She has an MPP from the Goldman School at UC Berkeley and a Ph.D. in policy analysis from the Pardee RAND Graduate School.

Erica Goldman, Science Policy Director, Moderator.

Erica leads NCSE and its Member Institutions in building capacity to bridge science and policy to improve the scientific basis of environmental decision-making.

Erica has a varied background that includes science writing, policy, and academic research. Previously, Erica served as the director of policy engagement for COMPASS, a nonprofit organization that helps environmental scientists effectively share their knowledge in the public discourse and decision-making. She also served in a six-month position in the White House Council on Environmental Quality on the Land & Water Ecosystems Team.

She has worked as a science writer for the Maryland Sea Grant College Program; served as a Knauss marine policy fellow in the Natural Resources Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives; and worked as a news intern at Science Magazine. She received her doctorate in biology from the University of Washington and her bachelor’s degree from Yale University.