Now, when I return to Los Angeles to visit my family, I can see the mountains and their peaks clearly throughout much of the year. The air is much cleaner than it was in the past and it was collaborations between policy-makers and scientists that made this happen."
My Science Policy Story
Growing up in Los Angeles, I couldn't see the nearby 8000 foot mountains on most summer days because of the dense smog choking the city. The smog was so thick you'd see a layer of brown soupy air as you took off or descended into the Los Angeles airport. To escape the concrete and built environment of Los Angeles, I loved retreating to the nearby mountains for a hike. Experiencing the contrast between concrete of Los Angeles and the forest of the mountains drove me to want to understand how humans are impacting the environment and what environmental policies we can put into place to clean the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the ecosystems we live in.
I double majored in Biology and Environmental Studies in college and enrolled in a PhD program based in Biology that required an internship in environmental policy. I was an intern for four weeks in Senator Moynihan’s (D-NY) office in Washington D.C. I learned a huge amount from that experience, including how policy questions are developed, how staff members gather information, and how votes are decided. I see the largest challenge for myself as a scientist is to develop policy-relevant scientific questions that result in data and conclusions that can be useful to policy-makers. Scientists interested in making a difference in the world want to see their data and results reach beyond scientific journals and help people and the environment. Policy-makers want to learn from scientists who can connect their data and conclusions to relevant policy contexts.
This is where I see the role of the Science Policy Exchange stepping in. They are a wonderful boundary-spanning organization that helps scientists develop research questions to create results that both expand our basic scientific understanding of the world and can be used by governmental agencies and non-governmental organizations to inform policy and land management decisions. The Exchange not only ensures that the basic scientific methods employed are transparent and rigorous, but that scientific results are shared and amplified to a broader audience. I was thrilled to join the Governing Council of the Science Policy Exchange in 2013 and have since then seen the tremendous amount of work and difference in the scientific and policy world they have achieved.
Now, when I return to Los Angeles to visit my family, I can see the mountains and their peaks clearly throughout much of the year. The air is much cleaner than it was in the past and it was collaborations between policy-makers and scientists that made this happen.
Pamela Templer is a Professor of Biology at Boston University, and the director of the Ph.D. Program in Biogeoscience, a Pardee Center Faculty Research Fellow, an Associate of the Arnold Arboretum, and an Associate Chair of the Department of Biology at Boston University.
She earned a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Cornell University and a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Biology (double major) from the University of California Santa Cruz. Dr. Templer’s research focuses on the effects of environmental change, including air pollution, climate change, land use change, and urbanization on forest ecosystems. She works in temperate forests of the northeastern United States, redwood forests of California, and tropical forests of Mexico and Puerto Rico.