Feb 25, 2020
Dayanni Bhagwandin
PhD student Dayanni Bhagwandin (Rubin group) was chosen as one of 16 CCST Science Translators at the California State Capitol in Sacramento on February 5, 2020.
 
A third-year chemistry Ph.D. candidate in Professor Yves Rubin’s group, Bhagwandin was part of a group of 16 talented graduate students and postdoctoral researchers invited to the California State Capitol to practice a crucial skill: translating their research for decision makers in the Legislature and the Executive Branch. At the event in the Governor’s Office Council Room, Bhagwandin explained to the legislators how organic nanomaterials can improve the next generation of electronics.  
 
(Left) Dayanni Bhagwandin holding a sign with the title of her talk "Organic Electronics: Powering Past Metal". (Right) At the event Bhagwandin talks with Legistrative Director alumnus Dr. Michael Bedard (Ph.D. '06 Schwartz group). 
 
Bhagwandin attended the High School for Math, Science, and Engineering at the City College of New York and then studied chemistry at Hunter College as a Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) and a Yalow Scholar. During her undergraduate studies, Bhagwandin was a volunteer researcher at Hunter College, the University of Washington, Weill Cornell, and Mount Sinai Hospital. She was also a program explainer and museum facilitator at the New York Hall of Science. 
 
After receiving her bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 2017 from Hunter, Bhagwandin joined the chemistry graduate program at UCLA. Her research in the Rubin group involves synthesizing novel organic materials for electronic applications such as supercapacitors and solar cells. She is also involved in outreach with CNSI on campus and sometimes volunteers at Lost Spirits distillery to explain the chemistry behind distillation. Bhagwandin was recently featured in UCLA’s Center for Diverse Leadership in Science (CDLS) video series highlighting diverse scientists.  
 
The Science Translators were recruited from CCST’s Partner Institutions and the finalists represented the University of California, California State University, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, NASA Ames Research Center, and Caltech campuses. Applicants were required to submit audition videos in which they explained the relevance of their research in less than 60 seconds; the invited presenters then underwent training webinars and other exercises to prepare for the networking event.
 
 “As we know from our CCST Science Fellows program, there is great interest from graduate students in science policy and science communication,” said CCST Executive Director Amber Mace, PhD. “The Science Translators Showcase provides early-career scientists an excellent opportunity to present their research to a policy audience — and to highlight some of the relevant research being conducted in California.”
 
Bhagwandin hopes to continue her involvement in science policy and work on increasing the public’s engagement with research. “By creating more ways to teach the public about current research, we can eliminate their misconceptions, fears, and hesitancies when it comes to science. In turn, I believe this will invite a broader group of individuals to pursue a science career as well as provide us with politicians who advocate for what we do. In the end, this will help us secure more funding for research as well as form new collaborations,” she says.
 
The CCST showcase was organized in partnership with California State Assemblymember Jose Medina (D-Riverside), Chair of the Assembly Committee on Higher Education. The Science Translators Showcase is one of many events during CCST’s 2020 Science & Technology Week at the California State Capitol, celebrating the role of science in service to state policy.
 
About the California Council on Science and Technology
CCST is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization established via the California State Legislature in 1988. They engage leading experts in science and technology to advise State policymakers - ensuring that California policy is strengthened and informed by scientific knowledge, research, and innovation. Discover how CCST makes California’s policies stronger with science at www.ccst.us.  To learn more about the 2020 CCST Science & Technology Week, visit the event website.
 
Photos by Will Bucquoy for CCST. Article by Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, penny@chem.ucla.edu.