Fellowship appoints UC Berkeley alumna to state Legislature

An-Chi Tsou/Courtesy

The California Council on Science and Technology has awarded a fellowship to a UC Berkeley alumna to serve an advisory role in the California State Legislature.

An-Chi Tsou received her doctorate in bioengineering from the UC Berkeley-UCSF Bioengineering Graduate Program and is serving in the office of Assemblymember Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, as a health and science adviser.

Tsou was among 10 appointed to the California Science and Technology Policy Fellowship in June. The fellowship, which is modeled off a similar congressional program, is sponsored by the California Council on Science and Technology and began in 2009. The fellowship selects scientists and engineers for one-year appointments to the state Legislature to build collaboration between public policy and science.

Since she started working in mid-December, Tsou has helped analyze legislation, drafted talking points and made recommendations on which bills the first-term assembly member should support.

“This is a very collaborative role, so we work really closely with a lot of other assembly members,” Tsou said. “For example, Mr. Bonta had a press conference with Nancy Skinner a week or two ago on a bill she’s proposing for gun control, and so we get to work a little bit with her staff.”

Tsou’s research as a graduate student involved blood cancer and manipulating chemical and physical environments surrounding stem cells to turn them into blood cells.

Bioengineering professor Song Li, who worked with Tsou in the UC Berkeley Cell and Tissue Engineering Lab, said this is the first time he has heard of a student entering a policy program like this.

“I think it’s very interesting because most students pursue careers in academic institutions or industry, but this is the first time I’ve heard of someone in state government,” Li said.

As a graduate student, Tsou was also involved with BEAST, the Bioengineering Association for Students, which she says engaged her interest in policy and science.

Dean Grafilo, Bonta’s chief of staff, says this appointment is an important step in involving the scientific community in the policymaking process.

“It’s a vital perspective, and I think the assembly member believes that creativity, innovation and good ideas can come from anywhere and especially a science fellow like An-Chi,” Grafilo said.

Mitchell Handler covers academics and administration. Contact him at [email protected].

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