Eagleton Science Fellows

13 July 2020

Dear Friends:

Never has the need been greater than it is today to have more scientists working on public policy.  Programs that place scientists into one-year positions in Washington, D.C. have been around for decades, but few states do the same thing.  A few years ago, a friend and a scientist also working in politics mentioned to me that California had a program and that NJ should consider something similar.  I made a phone call to the wonderful people at the Rutgers University Eagleton Institute of Politics and they jumped at the opportunity to allow young Ph.D.-level scientists to train and work throughout NJ State Government. 

The program brings enormous benefits to not only the Science Fellows by building civic skills, deepening their understanding of government, and learning how to navigate political systems, but also the state government by providing the following:

  • Making available immediate, unbiased, and highly trained scientific expertise available in-house at no cost to the host offices
  • Providing an increased ability to respond to issues effectively and efficiently
  • Strengthening and informing NJ policymaking process
  • Asserting New Jersey as a global leader in using evidence-based policies to ensure the well being of its people and economy, and environment.

This past Wednesday, July 8, 2020, marked the conclusion of the inaugural year of the Rutgers University Eagleton Institute’s Science and Politics Fellowship.  Four scientists completed their work, which was celebrated by a virtual graduation ceremony.

At the graduation ceremony, these four passionate and dedicated people spoke with eloquence and enthusiasm about their work on climate change at the Department of Transportation, newborn screening at the Department of Health, data privacy at the General Assembly Majority Office, and maternal health at the Department of Human Services.

Their accounts filled me with joy and optimism that better governing through science is expanding in NJ and elsewhere.

During my keynote address, I talked about the importance of not just their work, but the evidence-based approach that they took to all of their assignments. 

Since the day I became a legislator, it has been a personal goal to find ways to enhance evidence-based decision making in public policy.  The circumstances of 2020 have revealed that there has never been more important and urgent time in the history of this country for investing in science and politics.  The health and well being of every New Jersey resident is at stake.  I am profoundly grateful for Eagleton’s commitment to the cause.

Take Care,

Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker
16th Legislative District