February 2011

Fellowships 101: policy opportunities for scientists

Fellowship offerings

Policy Fellowships
• AAAS Mass Media Science & Engineering Fellows Program• AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowship
• American Association of Immunologists Public Policy Fellows Program
• American Institute of Physics Congressional Science Fellowship Program 
• American Meteorological Society Summer Policy Colloquium
• ASBMB Science Policy Fellowship
• California Science and Technology Policy Fellowship
• Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Graduate Fellowship
• Franklin Fellows Program
• Hellman Fellowship in Science and Technology Policy
• MAP Sustainable Energy Fellowships
• National Sea Grant Marine Policy Fellowship
• Presidential Management Fellowship
• RAND Graduate Student Summer Associate Program
• U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner's Fellowship Program 

Other URLs of interest:
Executive Branch
• White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy
• President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology 

Legislative Branch
• U.S. House Committee on Science and Technology
• U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

Non-profit Think Tanks
• Public Policy Institute of California
• Potomac Institute for Policy Studies
• Brookings Institution 

In the realm of public policy, but not specifically science policy, the Presidential Management Fellowship is a two-year fellowship open to science doctorate holders as well as nonscientists holding advanced degrees. This fellowship program seeks future federal leaders, and PMFs are placed in a variety of federal agencies. Two of my National Academies classmates accepted positions within the NIH at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. NIH fellows can rotate every three to six months, a key attribute of this fellowship. Current fellow Mengfei Huang says, “As a Presidential Management Fellow, I have an unparalleled opportunity to shape my fellowship experience across different content areas and functionalities within my institute, across the NIH as well as other federal agencies. Talk about being a kid in a candy store!”

The most prominent fellowship in science and technology policy is the American Association for the Advancement of Science policy fellowship in Washington, D.C. This program hosts more than 100 new fellows annually in a variety of federal agencies. The three main fellowship divisions are diplomacy, security and development; energy, environment, agriculture and natural resources; and health, education and human services. One or two AAAS fellows can score a congressional fellowship – working as committee staff or personal staff for a senator or representative – but the more common route for this fellowship is through a scientific professional society. The American Chemical Society, the American Geological Institute, the American Physical Society and many others sponsor a fellow each year for the AAAS Congressional program.

Of the three AAAS fellows who were my National Academies classmates, two chose the diplomacy, security and development fellowship with placements at the U.S. Agency for International Development and the third works on the Hill. Current AAAS fellow Hadas Kushnir says, “At USAID, I am learning how science can best inform policies, strategies, and program implementation both in Washington and in the field across a number of different countries in Africa.”

Another AAAS, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, offers their Hellman Fellowship in science and technology policy. The academy, a policy think tank in Cambridge, Mass., selects one or two fellows with science doctorates to work on the social implications of current science research questions. This one-year fellowship program currently is in its third year.

ASBMB offers a fellowship similar to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences one. It also is geared toward science doctoral degree holders but has a few extra perks: It can last up to 18 months and offers a more personal exploration of federal science policy. The selected ASBMB science policy fellow works directly with ASBMB Director of Public Affairs Benjamin Corb, in Bethesda, Md.

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Thanks so much, it was very useful to know about those opportunities. Elsa Castillo





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