Connecting Policymakers with Experts with Dr. Laura Woodworth-Ney – Ep #50

Dr. Laura Woodworth-Ney is the Executive Vice President and Provost at Idaho State University. Laura is also a faculty member there and is the Chief Academic Officer of the University. She oversees units that impact research and instructional academic programs. Laura has also had prior appointments at ISU including Chair of the Department of History and co-Director of Women’s Studies. 

The gap between those who make policy decisions in government and the more rural citizens can sometimes be a wide one. There are a lot of experts who have a passion for their fields and a storehouse of knowledge, but that doesn’t always translate to and influence those who make policy. This week’s guest on the podcast hopes to help close that gap and help those who live in rural areas of Idaho. 

Dr. Laura Woodworth-Ney earned her PhD in American History and Public History at Washington State University. Prior to that, she completed her master’s degree in History also at Washington State University. Her undergraduate studies were done at the University of Idaho, where she earned her bachelor’s in English. 

What You’ll Hear On This Episode of When Science Speaks

  • [2:26] The Idaho Science and Technology Fellowship
  • [7:55] Getting entry-level faculty involved in policymaking
  • [11:01] The time scale is longer in science than it is in policymaking
  • [14:01] The difficulties which first-generation college students face
  • [15:45] Dr. Woodworth-Ney did not plan on staying in Idaho originally
  • [20:02] Dealing with fast-moving changes in technology
  • [22:02] What it was like in the late 19th Century American West
  • [25:49] Emerging trends in academia

Connect with Dr. Laura Woodworth-Ney

Bridging the gap between private industry and the scientific community

There is a big difference between the worlds of the scientific community and private industry. The needs, goals, and deadlines of each are distinct due to the timescales that each operates in. Academic activity has a rhythm and a flow more naturally centered around the academic calendar, while private industry has only the quick turnaround and completion of its goals in mind. The result is a difference in the relative speed between the two. 

As Dr. Woodworth-Ney mentions in this episode, that difference can lead to a lack of synergy. The timescale gap also exists in the world of lawmaking, as well, as they have a much longer time to develop their ideas than the private sector. So what is the solution for bridging this gap? Laura hopes the fellowships they are working on can use policy to bridge a gap between private industry and the scientific community. 

Technology is changing very quickly

The technological revolution of the last few decades has accelerated exponentially in the last 10 years. The ways we travel, communicate, and even eat our food have been revolutionized, and this is just as true on campuses as anywhere else. Things like class registration, dining, and how students are informed about campus happenings have completely changed.

In this episode, Dr. Laura Woodworth-Ney gives an excellent example of this rapid change. Her mother and grandmother also attended the same university as she did, and as Laura mentions, registration for classes was done the same way for her mother as it was for her. That is no longer the case, as the internet has made those ways seem obsolete. The students who are attending classes today have never known a world without a cell phone and the internet, and even emails are no longer used as much as they once were, as Laura points out.

Learn more about Dr. Laura Woodworth-Ney and on this week’s episode of When Science Speaks.

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