Anna Hagstrom with two CASE Gerber Award recipients, Maya Geradi and Raina Jain. The Gerber Award is given to top high school student scientists and engineers for their outstanding achievements – maybe future CASE fellows?

Connecticut Academy of Science & Engineering (CASE)

In 2017, the Connecticut Academy of Science & Engineering (CASE) received one of nine planning grants awarded by the California Council for Science and Technology (CCST) in partnership with the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Simons Foundation.

The purpose of the grants was to support state-level planning for the implementation of a science and technology policy fellowship program, with the American Association for the Advancement of Science and CCST Policy Fellowship Programs as successful models from which to build. The fellowships provide opportunities for scientists, physicians, and engineers with PhD’s or equivalent terminal degrees to contribute their skills and knowledge to the development of science-related public policies while simultaneously learning about the public policy process.

CASE began the planning phase by establishing a Fellowship Advisory Committee that included representatives from state government, former and current fellows, CASE Members, and foundations, including Donaghue Foundation Vice President Nancy Yedlin. The committee provided guidance for development of the program and has continued to do so as the program moved into the implementation stage. The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) provided the first opportunity to place a CASE Fellow, confirming their interest in the spring 2018.

After a competitive selection process, Dr. Anna Hagstrom agreed to serve as CASE’s Inaugural Fellow and began a two-year fellowship at DEEP in the spring 2019. As an integral member of DEEP’s per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) team, she is working within the agency and as part of CT’s Interagency PFAS Task Force — led by DEEP and the Connecticut Department of Public Health — on the state’s PFAS action plan to (1) minimize PFAS-related health risks for CT residents, (2) minimize future releases of PFAS to the environment, and (3) find and clean up PFAS pollution that is already in the environment.

Dr. Hagstrom received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Amherst College and a PhD in environmental engineering from Yale University, where her doctoral research focused on developing materials that transform the color of light to improve the light harvesting of solar devices. During her time at Yale, Anna served as a teaching fellow in Environmental Technology in the Developing World, an executive board member in Yale’s graduate section of the Society of Women Engineers, and a member of the Yale Science Diplomats. Before beginning the CASE Fellowship, Anna spent twelve weeks in Washington, DC as a Mirzayan Fellow at the National Academy of Sciences, where she helped the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate prepare for an upcoming consensus study on the governance of solar geoengineering research.

Betsey Wingfield, Deputy Commissioner for Environmental Quality at DEEP, shared that Anna’s fellowship provides her agency with the advantage of a skilled and talented resource on site to apply to an issue that is expanding every day. And, “I also love the fact that we are working to integrate science and policy — and hoping to develop the next generation of environmental leaders.”