History

Establishment of a Washington State Academy of Sciences (WSAS) was first recommended by Governor Gregoire in 2005 to improve public policies and programs through the integration of informed, independent scientific analysis and communication with policy makers. Although Washington State has always had highly qualified persons in a wide range of scientific disciplines, WSAS was created to provide an organizational structure where the scientific community could effectively respond to requests for unbiased assessments of complex public policy questions. On April 16, 2005, Engrossed Senate Bill 5381, requested by Governor Gregoire, was unanimously passed authorizing the creation of WSAS. WSAS’s principle mission, established by legislation, is the “provision of scientific analysis and recommendations on questions referred to the academy by the governor, the governor’s designee, or the legislature.”

An Organizing Committee, co-chaired by University of Washington President Mark Emmert and Washington State University President Lane Rawlins, was charged with creating the Academy and held an initial meeting December of 2005 to begin a preliminary assessment of recommendations for the purpose, function, and budget of the Academy. The Committee consisting of 13 UW and WSU faculty was formalized in 2006 and developed the initial budget, articles of incorporation, and bylaws of the WSAS. WSAS Members Gordon Orians and R. James Cook were instrumental in the Academy’s founding and creation of the first Board of Directors. Read more about their involvement here.

To achieve early success, the Board developed criteria to determine which projects the WSAS would undertake. The Board wanted to be certain to complete any tasks assigned by the state on time and within budget, creating a reputation for reliability for future sponsors. To become fully operational, the Board hired two staff members while creating operating systems to ensure effective management of sponsor and stakeholder relationships and metrics for performance.

To date, WSAS has hosted eight annual symposia with corresponding proceedings on topics of importance to Washington State: cannabis research, climate change, the Columbia River treaty, translating scientific discoveries into solutions, health disparities, energy, sustainable water resources, and STEM education. WSAS has also worked with the Puget Sound Partnership, State Legislative Committees, the Washington State Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Fish and Wildlife, and the William D. Ruckelshaus Center, using the expertise of its members for the benefit of Washington State.

The Academy also advances science in Washington State by informing and educating the public through activities such as newsletters, hosting roundtables on topics of emerging significance to the state, and supporting Washington State student participation in American Junior Academy of Science.

The Washington State Academy of Sciences aims to be a premiere source of objective scientific and technical assessments on important issues, questions and problems to support informed public policy decisions in Washington State. To learn more about our mission, structure, and the ways that you can engage with us, click here.