PhD Candidate Takes Break from Cal to Work at White House Published: December 15, 2014 By: Sarah McClure UC Berkeley PhD candidate Dan Hammer is taking a year off from school, but his reason may surprise you. The White House wants him to come work for them. In September, Hammer was selected as one of this year’s 30 NASA Presidential Innovation Fellows. The year-long fellowship program, based in Washington, D.C. brings “some of the nation’s most talented and creative civic-minded innovators” to work in high tech in government. The program, which received more than 1,000 applications, brings together “designers, developers, entrepreneurs and executives” with unique skillsets. As a Fellow, Hammer will focus on data innovation initiatives. Prior to beginning his doctoral studies in natural resource economics in the Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, Hammer worked as a volunteer firefighter, taught math at San Quentin through the Prison University Project, and was the Chief Data Scientist at the World Resources Institute, where he launched Global Forest Watch in partnership with Google and USAID. He is also said to have solved a Rubik’s Cube puzzle in 27 seconds. You can read Dan Hammer’s bio at the White House.