The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Ursula Rick TH'03 Presents: "An Engineer Goes to Capitol Hill" on May 24 at 3:30 PM

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An Engineer Goes to Capitol Hill:  The role of science and engineering in policy and politicsJones Seminar Friday, May 24
3:30 pm

Spanos Auditorium, Cummings Hall 
Ursula Rick TH’03
Regulatory Affairs Analyst
Western Energy Alliance
Does it ever seem like the policies coming out of Washington, DC could have used the help of a scientist or engineer?  Have you ever wondered whether your research could be useful to our elected officials?  Technical knowledge is used in a variety of ways throughout the government, whether to inform policymaking, to promulgate regulations or to win political battles.  Scientists and engineers who want to work at the intersection of science and policy must not only have technical skills but must also be adept at building relationships with people and interweaving their expertise with that of various stakeholders, whether they be lawyers, political scientists, elected officials or the general public.  During her year as a Congressional Science Fellow in the US Senate, Dr. Rick worked to bring technical knowledge into the policymaking process, and at the same time, learned how technical expertise fits into the workings of Capitol Hill.  Technical experts are often viewed as having privileged information that carries more weight than other information, but at other times, they are treated as simply another interest group.  Scientists and engineers have an important role in making sure relevant, technical knowledge is properly used in the policymaking process.  Dr. Rick will share her thoughts on how that can be done and her experience moving from academia to the office of a US Senator.

Ursula Rick has spent most of her career pursuing problems at the interface of science, policy and politics.  She studied the Polar ice sheets and their behavior with climate change during graduate school, and this led to her interest in the relationship between science and politics as arguments about climate policy heated up.  In her current position as a regulatory analyst, Ursula works with industry and academic scientists to improve regulation of the oil and gas industry.  Prior to that, she worked on energy and natural resource policy for Sen. Mark Udall (CO) in Washington, DC.  During her post doc, she published on the role of the media in reporting sea level rise, the impetus for which came from her PhD research on melt from the Greenland Ice Sheet.  Ursula has a PhD in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences from the University of Colorado, an MS in Engineering Sciences from Thayer School of Engineer, Dartmouth College, and a BS in Material Science and Metallurgical Engineering from Michigan Technological University.

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences