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Public Service Careers Conference 2021

Conference zoom link:

The Public Service Careers Conference is aimed for early career researchers (ECR, i.e. graduate students and postdoctoral scholars) considering future careers in this diverse sector, full of many possibilities. In this series, ECRs will get opportunities to hear from and engage with professionals who are pursuing/have pursued intellectually fulfilling and engaging careers in public service. The Conference will take place virtually and include weekly career panels on Friday mornings, from 9am-10:30am.

Full Conference Schedule:

February 26, 9am-10:30am - Overview of Public Service Careers
March 5, 9am-10:30am - Policy & Advocacy Career Panel
March 12, 9am-10:30am - Community Engaged Research Career Panel
March 19, 9am-10:30am - Non-profit & Government Career Panel


March 19: Non-profit & Government Career Panel

Download workshop flyer

Zoom Link:

Amber Story, PhD: Associate Executive Director for Scientific Affairs, American Psychological Association

Dr. Amber Story is the Associate Executive Director of Scientific Affairs and Communication at the American Psychological Association (APA). She earned her PhD in Social Psychology at Cornell University and was a postdoctoral research scholar at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. After serving on the faculty at University of South Carolina - Aiken and the George Washington University, she joined the National Science Foundation (NSF) as the program director for the Social Psychology program. She was appointed Deputy Director of the Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences Division at NSF in 2009 and served on a number of interagency committees and working groups, including those devoted to President Obama’s BRAIN Initiative. At APA starting in 2016, Dr. Story has had primary responsibility for the creation and implementation of the Technology, Mind, and Society conference and associated activities.

Kathie Dello, PhD: State Climatologist of North Carolina and Director of the North Carolina State Climate Office

Kathie Dello is the state climatologist of North Carolina and the director of the North Carolina State Climate Office. She is the 5th permanent director and first woman to hold this position at the NCSCO in 43 years. Kathie comes to us from Oregon State University, where she was the associate director of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute and the deputy director of the Oregon Climate Service for almost 10 years. At OSU, Kathie led and participated in numerous state climate assessments, outreach, engagement, and research. A skilled climate communicator, Kathie was one of Oregon State University's most quoted experts in the media. She has a Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences from Oregon State University, a Master's in Geography and a Bachelor's in Atmospheric Science from the State University of New York at Albany. Kathie is originally from western New York, and likes to hike and bike in her spare time.

Greg Gearheart, PE: Deputy Director, Office of Information Managment and Analysis, California State Water Resources Control Board

Greg Gearheart, PE is a Deputy Director at the California State Water Resources Control Board and considers his job to be the chief data liberator for all the Water Boards’ data. He has been the director of the Office of Information Management and Analysis for four years. Prior to this appointment Greg served as the statewide Storm Water Program Manager for about seven years. In his 25 years at this organization Greg has worked in many different program areas, including wetlands, watershed management, organizational development and enforcement. Greg received a BS in Environmental Resources Engineering from Humboldt State University and also grew up behind the redwood curtain.


February 26: Overivew of Public Service Careers

Presentation - Public Service Careers for PhD holders

Presentation - Overview and Tips for Policy Fellowships

Presentation - Career Exploration for PhD Students

Resource - List of Science-Technology Policy Fellowships


Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, PhD:   Interim Associate Graduate Dean, Professor of Soil Biogeochemistry, Falasco Chair in Earth Sciences, UC Merced

Asmeret Asefaw Berhe is a Professor of Soil Biogeochemistry and Falasco Chair in Earth Sciences at the Department of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of California, Merced. She currently serves as the Interim Associate Dean for the Graduate Division at UC Merced. Her research interest lies at the intersection of soil science, global change science, and political ecology, and seeks to improve our understanding of how the soil system regulates the earth’s climate and the dynamic two-way relationship between soil and human communities. Among many awards and honors, Dr. Berhe is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and geological Society of America, recipient of the National Science Foundation’s CAREER award, is a member of the inaugural class of the US National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine's New Voices in Science, Engineering, and Medicine. She is passionate about all things soil and is driven to ensure that scientific education and careers are equally accessible to people from all walks of life, and that academic workplaces are free from bias and harassment.

Colleen Naughton, PhD:   Assistant Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering, UC Merced

Colleen Naughton is a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UC Merced. She is a national and international sustainable development engineer. Her research has taken her around the world including to Africa (North and West) and her concentration is in global water, sanitation, and hygiene, climate, and food security. Dr. Naughton was a Science and Technology Policy Fellow for the American Association of the Advancment of Sciences (AAAS) in 2017. Prior to her AAAS fellowship, she received a PhD in Civil Engineering from University of South Florida as well as a postdoctoral researcher there.

Hector Cuevas:   Assistant Director for UC Merced’s Center for Career and Professional Advancement

Hector Cuevas is Assistant Director of UC Merced’s Center for Career and Professional Advancement. He has over 30 years of experience at four major research universities directing all aspects of Career Development, Academic Advising, Orientation, Retention, Outreach, and Admissions for both undergraduate and graduate students. He has served as Director of Undergraduate Advising and Assistant Director of the Career Development Center at Stanford University, Director of Student Life and Professional Development as well as Director of Recruitment, Outreach and Diversity for the Office of Graduate Studies at UC Davis and Assistant to the Dean for EOP at UC Santa Cruz and System-wide Director of UC LEADS for the UC Office of the President.

March 5: Policy & Advocacy Career Panel

Download Session #2 Flyer


Geetika Joshi, PhD:   Senior Environmental Scientist, California Department of Food and Agriculture

Geetika Joshi received her Masters in Microbiology at the University of Delhi (India) and Ph.D. in Soils and Biogeochemistry from University of California, Davis. She conducted her post-doctoral project at the Center for Regional Change, UC Davis. She joined CDFA as an environmental scientist for the Department’s Dairy Digester Research and Development Program in 2014. Currently, she is a supervising Senior Environmental Scientist in the CDFA Office of Environmental Farming and Innovation (OEFI) where she leads CDFA’s dairy methane reduction and healthy soils incentives programs.

Daniel Hicks, PhD:   Professor of Cognitive and Information Sciences, UC Merced

Dan Hicks is a philosopher of science, science policy scholar, and assistant professor at UC Merced.  They received their PhD in philosophy of science in 2012, and from 2015 to 2017 served as an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow, hosted by the Environmental Protection Agency and National Science Foundation.  Their academic research focuses on public scientific controversies, writing on the science and politics surrounding issues such as genetically modified foods, self-driving cars, machine learning, chemical safety testing, pesticides, air pollution, obesity, and open science.  They have also been active in local food movements and anti-racist organizing.

Gretchen Goldman, PhD:   Research Director, Center for Science and Democracy at Union of Concerned Scientists

Gretchen Goldman is the research director for the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists. For nearly a decade, Dr. Goldman has led research efforts at the nexus of science and policy on topics ranging from federal scientific integrity to fossil energy production, climate change, and environmental justice. Dr. Goldman has testified before Congress and currently serves on the 500 Women Scientists Leadership Board and the Air and Climate Public Advisory Committee for the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. She also serves on an UNESCO/AAAS Consultation Group on the US science ecosystem. Her words and voice have appeared in Science, Nature, The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, NPR, and the BBC. She holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in environmental engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and a B.S. in atmospheric science from Cornell University.

March 12: Community Engaged Research Career Panel

Download workshop flyer


Rosa Manzo, PhD:  Associate Director of Medical Education, UC Merced

Dr. Rosa D. Manzo is an interdisciplinary community-engaged researcher. She has extensive experience with community-based participatory action research for program development and implementation in the health and education fields. She has developed partnerships with Promotora groups across the San Joaquin Valley region and has successfully trained them as data collectors. She has been critical in the development of medical school curricula that incorporates a community-engaged approach to addressing health disparities in the San Joaquin Valley. She draws from evidence-based practices and her lived-experience as a first-generation student from the San Joaquin Valley to engage educational leaders, community stakeholders, professionals, and policy makers in the development of effective programs that address the health and education needs of underserved communities.

Joanna Nelson, PhD:   Founder and Principal, LandSea Science

Joanna Nelson, PhD, has over 20 years’ experience in research and conservation through freshwater, estuarine, and coastal-ocean habitats; creating environmental solutions; and working at the science-policy-action interface. She is the founder and principal of LandSea Science, with the mission of crafting environmental solutions that integrate nature and culture, land and sea. Joanna has conducted resilience approaches to conservation, including new conservation tools, leading research as a postdoctoral fellow at the Natural Capital Project of Stanford University, and jointly between Stanford and the Nature Conservancy. She is a co-awardee of the Ecological Society of America’s Sustainability Science award. In addition, she works on multiple forms of science-and-justice, including supporting women and non-binary people in STEM research, serving as a gender-spectrum educator, and collaborating with Indigenous scientists and stewards. Her community-engaged research has been with Alaska Native communities on climate change and wildfire; Central Coastal California communities around sea-level rise and marsh restoration; with the Amah Mutsun Land Trust ( as the Co-Director of Stewardship; and currently with Indigenous water stewards.

Denise Diaz Payán, PhD, MPP:   Assistant Professor of Public Health at UC Merced and Deputy Director of the California Initiative for Health Equity & Action

Dr. Payán is the founder and principal investigator of the Community Health & Innovative Policy (CHIP) Lab. The CHIP Lab is engaged in applied public health and health services research to promote equitable and community-oriented policy solutions. Dr. Payán is also the Deputy Director of the state-wide research translation center known as the California Initiative for Health Equity & Action (Cal-IHEA). She has extensive experience conducting community-engaged research to reduce nutrition-related health disparities in Southern California. Dr. Payán obtained a PhD in Public Policy and Management from USC Sol Price School of Public Policy and an MPP from Harvard Kennedy School. She was also a Health Services Research post-doctoral fellow with a joint appointment at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and the RAND Corporation.

This conference was hosted by UC Merced's Graduate Division and the Center for Career and Professional Advancement. Please contact the Graduate Resource Center for more information or questions about this event at