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Public Service Research Program

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Preparing the Next Generation of Environmental Professionals

"How can universities more fully prepare graduate students for careers in today's complex and interdependent world?" Through our programs, seminars, and workshops, graduate and undergraduate students gain knowledge, professional experience, and work place skills for diversifying career choices and for applying academic knowledge and research findings to real world contexts beyond the University. We teach outreach methods, engagement strategies, and practical applications using a multiple mentorship approach that incorporates peer mentoring and the creation of learning communities. Our goal is that university students become knowledgeable and reflective scholars and practitioners who effectively communicate science to decision-makers and the general public, contributing to environmental stewardship and sustainability. View the Communication and Outreach page to see some of their accomplishments.

  • Broader Impacts Initiatives
  • Translating Research Beyond Academia Graduate Student Seminars
  • Environmental Leaders Program
  • Science Communication, Outreach, and Policy Workshops
  • Grads-on-Call
  • Science Education Outreach Program
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Broader Impacts

The National Science Foundation (NSF) and other leading funding agencies include "Broader Impacts" among criteria for funding research. Increasingly, researchers are considering how their research can have a positive effect in the world. For example, the results of research might increase the public understanding of science (NSF), promote environmental decision making (U.S. EPA), or enable the public to make more informed health choices (NIH). Through the ELP, graduate students learn and practice how to design and implement broader impacts endeavors, leading to more effective outcomes:

  • On November 1, 2011 we present a mini-workshop on finalizing broader impacts sections of NSF Graduate Research Fellowship proposals;
  • A co-led Ecology 290 seminar gave graduate students experience in developing broader impacts activities related to their research in spring 2010;
  • Former engineering graduate student Jake Setterbo created a Broader Impacts web page for his 2009-2010 Professors for the Future project.

Researchers interested in developing Broader Impacts sections of grant proposals and in engaging effectively with communities, schools, or agencies are welcome to participate or contact us.

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Translating Research Beyond Academia Graduate Student Seminar Series

Many graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, and faculty search for ways to share their research outside of academia to promote public action and policy change. Traditional academic training develops strong discipline relevant skills, but rarely provides transferable skils and experience in interfacing with the media, policy makers, and local communities.

In these weekly seminars graduate students learn effective strategies for communicating and sharing research and academic knowledge with the media, the general public, community members, stakeholders, and decision- and policy-makers. Seminars combine presentations from university and regional experts with collaborative work sessions aimed towards creating communicative messages, outreach plans, and usable products, including those related to students' own research. The series consists of three separate seminars and associated clusters for more intensive and advanced applied work.

  • Education and Community Outreach (fall 2011)
  • Science Communication and Writing (winter 2012)
  • Communicating with Policy- and Decision-makers (spring 2012)

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Environmental Leaders Program

The Environmental Leaders Program provides opportunities for graduate students to link their academic learning to real world practice. These experiences lead to solution-oriented research and engagement and build environmental leaders. The program includes an ongoing professional seminar of peers (collaborative lab), mentorship, and applied internships or projects. Graduate student leaders can work with: 1) communities, 2) schools and school-based environmental educational entities, and 3) decision-makers and governmental entities to collaboratively address environmental problems.

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Science Communication, Outreach & Policy Workshops

We collaborate with other campus entities in providing opportunities for learning science communication, outreach strategies, and how to influence public policy.

  • Designing Education Outreach Programs
  • Collaborative Decision-making for Conservation
  • Science Communication and Policy Development
  • Exploring New Opportunities for Educating Conservation Professionals


In this new science outreach program, graduate students provide virtual or in person academic expertise to regional and campus entities on a short-term basis. Examples include: One student responded to a request from the Yolo County Office of Education for a weekly presentation on science topics to a local high school class for a total of four weeks. A local environmental organization has requested a graduate student's help.

Science Education Outreach Program

The Science Education Outreach Program is a group internship designed to engage undergraduate students in K-12 and community outreach efforts, with emphasis on sharing the excitement of learning and doing science. Known as SEOP, the program has served undergraduates and regional schools and communities for over a decade. Topics include watersheds, climate change, gardens, environmental health, animal health, water quality, energy, and more. The program uses an experiential learning approach coupled with cross-age mentoring and combines seminars on science outreach with student placements in regional and campus outreach programs and sites. Graduate students lead undergraduate topic-based sections as facilitators and mentors or can participate as learners. See the Education page for examples of education programs where SEOP students are placed. SEOP begins again in spring 2012.