My Off-Canvas


Student Advisors

Science to Policy Student Advisory Board

Derreck Carter-House

Derreck Carter-House

Cabinet Chair
Department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology
Interests:  Science literacy, science outreach, agriculture

Being from the Midwest, there were a couple scientific theories that were controversial in my high school and even college (think evolution, old earth, climate change). In addition, serving in an outreach capacity with the community of Riverside, I have found an ever widening knowledge gap between what is happening in the lab and what the layperson knows. Keeping the public engaged and up to date on what they are funding is important for so many reasons, and should be a major responsibility of any good scientist. S2P has helped me to more effectively communicate my research and is preparing me for a career in science consultation in government. 

Ben Sommerkorn

Benjamin Sommerkorn

Cabinet Vice Chair
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Interests:  Energy systems, sustainability, organizing, social justice

I am interested in the intersection of science, policy and social issues. My passion for policy comes from a desire to seek justice and to improve the lives of all people. I hope to work in the state and federal legislature making sure good data and science are at the fore of new policy. My dissertation work involves blood mechanics, brain aneurysms, and biomedical microdevices. 


    Lindsey Pedroncelli

    External Affairs Officer
    Department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology
    Interests: Climate change, agriculture

    As I became more aware of the lack of sustainability within the food and agriculture industries, I began wondering what I could do to help. California is an agricultural hub and I believe it is important to educate people throughout the state where their food comes from and what they can do to live more sustainable lives. I also hope to inform policymakers and influence change at the policy level to make the food and agriculture industries safer for consumers and the environment. Through S2P I hope to learn how to influence these changes and how to effectively communicate my science knowledge.


    Elizabeth McMahon

    Internal Affairs Officer
    Department of Chemistry
    Interests:  Energy solutions

    I feel a duty as a scientist to use my experience and knowledge to inform policy makers. S2P teaches me the necessary skills for effectively communicating my research and guiding legislative decisions.

    Parisa Parsafar

    Parisa Parsafar

    Academic Programs Developer
    Department of Psychology
    Interests:  Children's education and health outcomes, environmental health

    I am a doctoral candidate in Developmental Psychology at the University of California, Riverside and am also pursuing a Designated Emphasis in Public Policy. My developmental affective science work uses a multi-method approach to understand how children’s experiences and management of negative emotions (e.g., fear, disgust, sadness) relate to differences in cognitive processes like attention, memory, and learning. Emotions serve as signals that communicate important information about current experiences; but, when they are inaccurate, exaggerated, or regulated poorly, they can lead people to engage in maladaptive thoughts and behaviors that carry environmental and public health consequences. As part of my research, I am investigating how differences in children's early experiences of disgust and fear predict their developing water contamination beliefs and tap water avoidance behaviors. I am interested in integrating my developmental science research into policy to reduce children’s risks for developing problematic behaviors and promote their healthy functioning.

    Gregory Newkirk

    Gregory Newkirk

    Student Organization Liaison
    Department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology
    Interests:  Human-caused environmental impacts, STEM education

    I am interested in how science can better inform the process of making policy, the legislation itself, and implementation from the local to state level.


    William Ota

    Government Relations
    Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology
    Interests:  Human impacts on ecosystems, conservation, science communication, outreach

    I am interested in science policy and the S2P program because I believe that scientists' work becomes most impactful when we are able to share our results. I work in ecology and if I can get others to listen to what experts in my field are doing I believe we can protect the natural wonders of our planet from climate change and other human impacts. By being involved in science policy I can help increase appreciation for primary research outside of the scientific community. I want to learn from the S2P program so I can translate science for easy consumption by policy makers and the public who can benefit from my and others work.


    Holly Andrews

    Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology
    Interests:  Climate, environment, education

    In order for science to translate into policy and public knowledge, scientists need to feel comfortable navigating the world outside of their laboratories.  Particularly because my dissertation explores climate change and air quality issues, two heavily-debated issues in California, I was drawn to S2P because of a desire to engage with policymakers and the broader public in a meaningful and informative way about a topic which is often misconstrued or misunderstood.  I also believe that building critical thinking and data analysis skills in K-12 education is a crucial step toward a better public understanding of scientific issues, and I have applied communication and analytical skills learned in S2P toward development of individualized science inquiry modules in collaboration with a local high school.

    Irma Ortiz

    Irma Ortiz

    Cabinet member
    Department of Botany and Plant Sciences