Melody Tulier, Janet Napolitano and Jennifer Lawrence on Graduate Advocacy day in Sacramento.
Melody Tulier, Janet Napolitano and Jennifer Lawrence on Graduate Advocacy day in Sacramento.

This March marked the seventh year that UC Berkeley has participated in the Graduate Research & Education Advocacy Day in Sacramento. Our doctoral students Jennifer Lawrence and Melody Tulier joined their counterparts from the nine other UC campuses at the State’s capital, with the aim of re-acquainting legislators with the tremendous contributions to the State’s vitality made by University of California scholars and researchers. Rounding out the UC Berkeley contingent were Fiona Doyle, Dean of the Graduate Division, and Michelle Moskowitz, Director of Government and Community Relations.

UC Berkeley’s messaging highlighted research on improving quality of life and environmental issues. Jennifer Lawrence, a Ph.D. student studying environmental engineering, has been researching ways to deal with wastewater treatment plants in the San Francisco Bay Area. The plants release significant amounts of chemical compounds into the Bay, which pose potential harm to aquatic plants and animals. Lawrence is looking for feasible solutions to sustainably remove the compounds from the wastewater discharge before they reach local water bodies.

“At Sacramento Day, Melody and I highlighted the importance of our research projects for the sustainable future of the Bay Area.  I hope that California legislators will take appropriate actions to ensure that our projects, and others like them, will continue to be properly funded at UC Berkeley,” said Lawrence, reflecting on the day.

Gentrification is a topic surrounded by escalating tension as it threatens the livelihood and living conditions of many throughout the Bay Area. Public Health doctoral student Melody Tulier is studying how the major demographic shifts and gentrification in San Francisco Bay Area neighborhoods impact health disparities among the urban poor. Focusing on Alameda County, Tulier’s research takes a closer look at various resources available to long-term residents and the degree to which these people’s health conditions are affected.

Dean Doyle was excited by the Berkeley students’ level of engagement.

“It was such a rewarding day. It was inspiring to watch Jennifer and Melody rise to the challenge of assessing what was important for different government leaders, and to be so effective in establishing an immediate rapport with each of them. They reminded me of what I learned decades ago — that Berkeley graduate students are the best!”

Her thoughts were echoed by Director Moskowitz: “What is so rewarding about bringing UC Berkeley graduate students to Sacramento, and introducing their work to lawmakers and policy makers in legislative and executive offices, is that the students begin to appreciate that their research could have a major impact in California — and we experience an ‘ah-ha’ moment for those we are meeting with, as they recognize the cost-benefit of supporting UC Berkeley, including 10,000 students at the graduate level, directly contributing to society.”