Catalysts for Science Policy

Catalysts for Science Policy (CaSP) is an effort led by graduate students to engage members of the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus and the public in discussions of science policy with experienced policy makers. In the pilot semester, each session will comprise a campus-wide presentation by two experts who will then each meet with small groups of graduate students to brainstorm about practical ways to pursue changes in policy. CaSP will also sponsor a symposium on forensic science in Fall 2017 and participate in a public policy panel at the Wisconsin Science Festival on November 2, 2017.

CaSP has three main goals:

  1. Educate graduate students about science policy and emphasize the importance of increasing scientist participation in science policy issues, both local and national.
  2. Increase graduate student awareness of various science policy careers and provide opportunities to help them become better candidates for these positions.
  3. Communicate relevant science topics to government and funding agencies, and to the non-scientist community in Madison.

Science policy is a broad field that requires a general understanding of science, but also how policies are established in the government, private and nonprofit sectors. There is a lack of understanding of what science policy is and how it affects both public policy and scientific research. In order to fulfill our goal of educating students about science policy, we host public seminars where invited speakers will present on various aspects of science policy. In addition, we wish to keep our student members updated on current science policy issues by holding meetings where we informally discuss these issues in a journal club setting. Being in the capital provides us with an amazing opportunity to work with senators and law makers. We hope to organize a relationship with the capital that affords graduate students the opportunity to meet policy makers and understand how policies involving science are managed and implemented from the policy makers’ perspective.

In order to increase the awareness of science policy as a career, several seminars with invited and local speakers will be organized during the year. Through these seminars the graduate student community will be exposed to different careers and jobs in different sectors: government, private and non-profit.

Science policy issues affect scientists and the general public alike. For this reason, we believe that it is important for the public to understand the value of research and science.  To address this goal, we will reach out to the community and educate them on currently relevant science topics.  Through activities geared toward the non-scientific community, both in the local neighborhoods and on the University campus, we hope to demonstrate why the research done by graduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison is important to the community at large. These activities will provide our members with experience communicating science topics to a general audience.  Non-technical communication is a skill that is indispensable for scientists, especially those interested in science policy, where scientists frequently interact with a variety of non-scientific audiences.

Please follow us on our blog, on twitter (@CaSP_UWMadison) or on our facebook page. Email us at

You may also find us on the Wisconsin Involvement Network (WIN)


Additional Information

Membership Requirements: Members must be UW-Madison students (undergraduate, graduate or professional students) or Post-doctoral fellows in good standing. Beginning 2017-18, membership will entail a $20 annual fee. Open to Both Undergraduate and Graduate/Professional Students.

Parent Organization: National Science Policy Group (NSPG)