February 2011

Fellowships 101: policy opportunities for scientists

California offers a state version of the American Association for the Advancement of Science federal science and technology policy fellowship through the California Council of Science and Technology. In this program, 10 fellows (all with science doctorates) work in Sacramento for the state legislature on policy issues important to California. This one-year fellowship is in its second year, and my National Academies classmate Tony Marino is a current fellow. According to Marino, “California has been a bellwether for science policy, being the first state to pass an e-waste recycling program, green chemistry and a carbon cap-and-trade. It’s a great place to learn about where the country is headed.”

For those of you interested in global science policy and further along in your careers, the Franklin Fellows Program in Washington, D.C. offers a one-year placement in the Department of State or USAID. I met a Franklin fellow at a congressional hearing on science education; she was on a one-year sabbatical from her university and likely will be an invaluable resource on science education policy once she returns to her post.

If you are interested in broadcasting or publishing, the American Association for the Advancement of Science offers a program where fellows spend ten weeks at a major media outlet within the U.S. This Mass Media Science and Engineering summer program is a nonpolicy fellowship where you can learn how to communicate science to the general public. This program is open to pre- and post-doctoral degree holders, and each fellow has the option to work behind the scenes in research, as a production assistant or editor, or even in front of the camera as a reporter.

Besides these programs, other smaller and subject-specific fellowships abound – check with your professional organizations, the policy office at your local university, a local think tank or a career center at your workplace. Think broadly and apply for any program that strikes your interest.

Sarah Edwards (cardinalrose@gmail.com) is a science administrator at Duke University’s Center for Systems Biology.

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





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