Grad student Sara Gonzalez wins policy award from Ecological Society of America

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Sara Gonzalez

Sara Gonzalez, a Ph.D. student in ecology and evolutionary biology at UC Santa Cruz, is among the recipients of the Katherine S. McCarter Graduate Student Policy Awards from the Ecological Society of America (ESA).

This award provides graduate students with the opportunity to receive policy and communication training in Washington, D.C., and meet with lawmakers.

Gonzalez is interested in the ecology of coastal kelp forests and their use as a natural resource. Her research focuses on the environmental and genetic drivers of variation in kelp morphology and production of commercially important chemicals. She is a member of the RC Lab directed by Peter Raimondi and Mark Carr, professors of ecology and evolutionary biology at UC Santa Cruz. Previously, Gonzalez conducted research in Chile as a U.S. Fulbright Student, working with local researchers and kelp harvesters to study the ecology, perspectives, and impacts associated with artisanal kelp harvesting.

She and the other award recipients will travel to Washington, D.C., in March to learn about the legislative process and federal science funding, to hear from ecologists working in federal agencies, and to meet with their members of Congress on Capitol Hill. This Congressional Visit Day, organized and sponsored by ESA, offers GSPA recipients the chance to interact with policymakers and discuss the importance of federal funding for science, in particular the biological and ecological sciences.

“Scientists who are confident in their ability to communicate with decision-makers are needed more than ever to bridge the gap between science and policy,” said ESA President Laura Huenneke. “The Katherine S. McCarter Graduate Student Policy Award provides real-life, hands-on experience for early career ecologists. The society is grateful to be able to assist a number of individuals each year in advancing their effectiveness in this crucial arena.”