Agencies Profile: Jun Bando

Degree and year: PhD 2005 (Integrative Ecology AOE)
Major advisor: Don Strong, Marcel Holyoak

Education and background: Jun Bando received her PhD from the GGE in 2005. As a PhD student she worked for Drs. Marcel Holyoak and Donald Strong to develop DNA microsatellite markers for smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora). She also designed and implemented microsatellite-based population genetic studies of native and invasive cordgrasses (Spartina spp.) in the U.S. and Mexico. Upon graduating, Jun worked as a postdoctoral researcher with Dr. Marcel Holyoak researching recovery plan options for the federally threatened Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle (Desmocerus californicus dimorphus. Her second postdoc was with Dr. Bernie May conducting DNA microsatellite marker development and genotyping to characterize the molecular population genetics of green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris).

Recent work: Jun is currently working as an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow in the U.S. Department of State, where she serves as the Regional Environment, Science, Technology and Health Officer for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs.

Q1: How did you get from UCD to your current career?

A: Jun has long had an interest in policy as a means of effecting environmental and societal change. She thought a strong background in science would be important should she decide to venture down that career path. She chose the GGE for her graduate work because of the integrative aspect of the program, thinking this would provide opportunities to conduct research that would inform policy. While a graduate student in the GGE however, she focused on basic research. After getting her PhD she sought out opportunities to link science with policy. While a postdoc she applied for a Diplomacy Fellowship through the AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship Program and after being awarded the fellowship chose to work with the Department of State.

Q2: Do you like the career path that you ended up with?

A: Although she is happy with the choice she made to experience the policy world she has not decided whether this will be her career or if she will return to science.

Q3: What do you like best about your job?

Jun gets to do a lot of problem solving about a wide range of issues, is constantly learning and gets to travel throughout the Americas. She particularly enjoys participating in international negotiations in her current position.

Q4: What are your biggest professional challenges?

“When you compare policy and science they are really like apples and oranges,” Jun explains, “it’s a real culture shock.” The job is definitely fascinating and fast paced, but really different from her scientific training. There is no clear pathway to answers, as in academia where course work often precedes your questions and you are surrounded by knowledgeable resources.

Q5: How did GGE training help you?

Jun says that it is sometimes hard to see the connections between the training she got while a GGE student and the work she is doing now, but feels that her time at UC Davis helped her develop the skill of synthesizing information from different disciplines, which is key to survival in her new role.

Q6: What would you recommend that current GGE students do while they are at UCD to help them get to develop their professional potential (other than research,research,research)?

Jun stresses that policy requires people who can communicate complex ideas effectively. This includes both public speaking and writing skills. Equally as important however, is simply being willing to adjust to a different culture. How you go about that as a GGE student is really up to the individual as there are many paths to developing those skills.

What are the career prospects for a young scientist in the area where you currently work
Most young scientists at the Department of State get their foot in the door through fellowships and go to work for the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, where they can be involved with international work on specific issues, such as wildlife trafficking or climate change. Many science fellows stay in the Bureau after their fellowships end. In her area of the Department of State, the political bureaus, there are fewer opportunities. This year, the AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship program is bigger than ever.

Interviewed March 2007