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Graduate Student Spotlight

April 19, 2023

Griffin Bradley and Christian Shockey are Master's students in Political Science at WVU who have been working with Bridge for the past two years as research assistants. Their political science expertise has been invaluable to our science and technology policy work! We are excited that they are graduating with M.A. degrees and moving on to their next career steps, but we are sad to say goodbye!  

As we part, Bridge is spotlighting these two exceptional graduate students who were critical to both our Waters of WV and Carbon Dioxide Removal and West Virginia campus-wide policymaker studies. Below, Griffin and Christian discuss what it was like working in science and technology policy, and how their experience with Bridge has shaped their future plans.

Griffin Bradley      Christian
          Griffin Bradley                       Christian Shockey

How did working on science and technology topics shape your perspective on policy?

Griffin Bradley: Working in a very technical and complex hard science system has reshaped my perceptions of where science, policy, and politics meet. It has forced me to make connections among different issues that I wouldn’t have made previously, which has expanded my research and analytical capabilities.

Christian Shockey:  I really like this question. Particularly for me, I have always been really interested in the sciences and how scientific advances in various fields help us as human beings to understand the world around us a little bit better, and our role in it. Before starting this position, I did not realize how interconnected scientific research was with policymakers allocating funds for it. Learning about "policy for science" was new for me, because I hadn't ever considered the possibility that the government needed to be so involved early in the scientific research agenda. I've realized that policy can make or break a scientific research project, especially if the research being done becomes a salient political topic.

What has been the most formative aspect of your time with Bridge?

Griffin Bradley: I have really appreciated all of the work being done by Bridge, not just in terms of the development of the CDR guide, but also in everyone’s willingness to see the non-‘hard science’ side of this work. I think the Bridge Initiative’s ability to literally bridge the divide between the natural and social sciences through our students and faculty has been invaluable to adding nuance to the work we do.

Christian Shockey: The most formative aspect of working with Bridge for me has been hearing the perspectives of other graduate students and faculty from the Health Sciences campus as well as the Evansdale campus. The volunteers on the Bridge team do a lot of great work with the Science Policy Organization at the university, and they are some of the smartest people I've ever met. I think just hearing their perspectives on things, as well as being able to speak with them about state legislature operations to add a political science perspective to the conversations, has been really insightful and impactful.

What lessons did you learn from your experience with the Bridge Initiation that you will use in your future endeavors?

Griffin Bradley: This position has given me a lot of new knowledge on issues that I had never dove into prior to joining. The faculty and staff with the Bridge Initiative have rewritten the narrative surrounding my own research in some ways. While I am actively looking for employment post-graduation, I am finding myself more comfortable to take on more challenging roles that demand more technical experience. I think that this confidence, when met with the knowledge accrued through working with this fantastic team, has really set me up to find a meaningful career impacting issues of true substance to West Virginia and Appalachia broadly.

Christian Shockey: The most effective thing I have learned through Bridge is the importance of working together, staying on top of the legislative activity in the state and federal government, and learning how to draft real policy briefs with recommendations that are scientifically and empirically backed. This is an invaluable skill that will stay with me into the future and I am excited to see where that will take me in the future. It will be nice to some day look back at my first two years of graduate school and think about how much of an impact my time with Bridge had on the way that I understand policymaking.