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Washington State University Graduate School

Facilitating Science Communications on a Global Level

Recent Doctoral Graduate Julian Reyes Receives AAAS Fellowship

By Yue Huang

 

Since graduating from WSU’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in 2018, Dr. Julian Reyes has been working as a post-doctoral fellow and research hydrologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Southwest Climate Hub in New Mexico. He recently received the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy Fellowship (STPF), and will begin working at the State Department in the Office of Global Change in November.

Julian’s academic pathway at WSU and beyond has been paved with a series of awards and opportunities—coupled with hard work and excellent mentors. His multiple experiences helped hone his focus from a desire to become a professor to an evolving desire to communicate science to diverse audiences from local to global scales in hopes of effecting awareness and change.

“Not only is Julian interested in bridging the gap between scientists and policy makers, he continually explores avenues to share his research to those outside academia and effectively communicate its societal relevance,” says Dr. Jennifer C. Adam, Julian’s advisor at WSU. “Julian’s commitment to public service can be exemplified through his activities to use science for more informed decision-making.”

Making an Impact at WSU

Julian joined WSU in 2006 to pursue a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, and continued his doctoral research in 2010 focusing his research on the impacts of climate change and management in rangeland ecosystems. He received numerous awards during his time as an undergraduate and graduate student.

In 2008, Julian interned in Germany under the DAAD RISE program, where he worked as a research assistant for the Department of Waste Engineering at the University of Kassel. In 2009 he worked as an engineering intern in the environmental department at BP Cherry Point Refinery in Blaine, Wash., and in 2010 received the Outstanding Senior award in the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture as well as the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society Fellowship.

He graduated with his bachelor’s degree in 2010 and immediately entered the doctoral program hoping to eventually find a faculty position in academia. In 2011 he received a Fulbright research grant to study at the University of Bonn in Germany.

In 2012 Julian was awarded the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, which supports outstanding students in STEM disciplines who are pursuing research-based graduate degrees. The generous financial support of the NSF GRFP allowed Julian to focus on his research development.

In 2014, Julian was selected to be a Science Policy Fellow at the U.S. Global Change Research Program, where he learned how to communicate with people from different departments about climate change. At the same time, he became familiar with how the federal government makes decisions based on applying science to the policy-making process.

Answering the “So What”

With the culmination of his experiences and the progression of his research, Julian began to ask the “so what” of his research. With that question, he began to think about how his science might serve the general public.

“I like the idea of finding ways to communicate research to others, including those from different disciplines and outside of academia,” says Julian. “By asking the ‘so what’ question, I became aware of the connections between science and society.”

At his current work in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Southwest Climate Hub, Julian has focused on the influence of climate change on agricultural risk management. He also helped develop an online tool for the general public that utilizes scientific data to manage crop insurance.

“My research, which aims to understand the impacts of climate change on agriculture, is useful because of the decision relevance and management implications to farmers and ranchers,” said Julian. “And with the online tool, my research can be usable, because ranchers and farmers can make more informed decisions for what and when they plant using these data.” He has received positive feedback from users of his technology.

Global Communications

Adding to his accomplishments, Julian’s AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship will provide him more opportunities to learn first-hand about science policy while working in the Office of Global Change at the State Department. He will provide technical guidance on climate change and climate science and help in international negotiations across federal agencies to coordinate climate change research.

“Working with people around the world is challenging, but I’m happy to challenge myself and excited to see the things we can take back to our country and states,” said Julian. “Because climate change is a global issue that affects everyone, we need to help localize these impacts. I think my experiences allow me to scale up much of my skills to the global level.”

 

About the WSU Civil and Environmental Engineering Department

Civil Engineering is a profession that utilizes our nation’s resources to improve the quality of life for all, while at the same time preserving and protecting the natural environment. The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at WSU is one of the nation’s preeminent programs in both graduate and undergraduate civil and environmental engineering education. Our programs provide a solid foundation in the fundamentals of engineering and science combined with technical expertise in specialized areas of the field.