Upcoming Events and Elections

How does congress allocate research funding? Do researchers have intellectual property rights? What food policies solve both hunger and obesity? Are there career opportunities in outer space policy? What can local and state governments do about climate change?
If you’re interested in any of these questions, you’re not alone! Students across Illinois are doing the same thing. Learn more about the UIUC Science Policy Group at one of our March recruiting events.
Can’t make these events but still want to get involved? If you would like to run in 2019-2020 elections or nominate a colleague, please fill out the form here. All nominations are due by midnight CST on Wednesday, April 3rd 2019.

Marshmallows, Baileys and the Science of International Engineering

Ann-Perry Witmer, P.E., M.S., has followed a curious path through life, ultimately coming to engineering in midlife when she enrolled in the University of Illinois’ College of Engineering after a successful career in newspapering. After graduating with honors and becoming the first civil engineering major ever to win the prestigious Harvey Jordan Award from the College of Engineering, she became a practicing professional engineer in Wisconsin, designing water systems for communities throughout the Midwest.

She also helped to create organizations that work directly with communities in Central America and the Caribbean to provide engineering assistance for disadvantaged communities in need of safe, sustainable drinking water.

Ann now teaches freshman engineering electives as well as engineering service design courses at the university, and she is faculty advisor to Engineers Without Borders-UIUC and AWWA/WEF. Her service travels have taken her to Central America, Africa, Asia and South America, where she’s developed a deep understanding of the relationship between technical and social considerations that must be co-evaluated for communities in need.

She is currently pursuing a novel graduate degree in engineering that investigates the relationship between technical design and non-engineering considerations like politics, culture and economics.

More information: here.

July Newsletter

View online: here.

Save the Grid! Policy Writing Game Night
July 11th, 4:30-5:30 PM, 1105 Beckman Institute

The UIUC Science Policy Group invites you to join our inaugural policy writing game night on July 11th at 4:30 pm at 1005 Beckman Institute! In this game, you and your friends will play the role of an advisory board in charge of rebuilding the power grid for your city after a natural disaster wreaks havoc on the old one. Can you design a proposal to save the grid that is both popular and under-budget?

Players will be given a budget and an idea of their constituents and will have to design a plan using a variety of energy sources to create a complete package. At the end of the event, attendees will present their ideas to the rest of the group for discussion. Dr Clifford Singer, the Director of the Program in Arms Control and Domestic and International Security at UIUC, will moderate the event. Refreshments will be provided!


S|GNS (Science | Government, Institutions & Society) Summit
July 6-8, Chicago IL

Did you know you can use poetry to engage the public in your research? What do you do if someone trusts “alternative facts” more than your data? Want to learn how to be a science comedian? March for Science is live streaming these and other plenary sessions during its S|GNS summit (July 7-8). Visit https://www.marchforscience.com/summit for details! Recordings will also be available after the meeting.


Wanted: Multimedia Skills for Designing a Webinar Series
Contact Libby Haywood at mayberr3@illinois.edu

The Professional Development Committee is designing a Webinar Series in which we interview Science Policy Professionals remotely. If you have multimedia skills, particularly in video processing/editing, and are interested in working on this project please contact Libby Haywood: mayberr3@illinois.edu

Networking Workshop- Save the Date!
September 4, 1:30-3:30 PM, 5062 Beckman Institute

The Science Policy Group is partnering with the Graduate College to offer a Networking Workshop on Tuesday September 4 from 1:30-3 pm at the Beckman Institute! Participants will craft elevator pitches, meet new people and brush up on their networking skills while enjoying some light refreshments.


Connect with us!

Follow updates from our group on FacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedIn, and WordPress.


Join one of our committees!

Are you passionate about science policy? Want to organize our next speaker event? Maybe you want to help young scientists find careers in science policy? If so, all of our committees are actively recruiting new members! If you are interested, email spg.uiuc@gmail.com for more details!

June Newsletter

View online: here

Policy Writing Game Night
July 11th, 4:30 PM, 1105 Beckman Institute

The UIUC Science Policy Group invites you to join our inaugural policy writing game night on July 11th at 4:30 pm at 1005 Beckman Institute! Groups of participants will craft basic science policies around proposed scenarios (e.g. national security, public health, environment, etc). Then, groups will have an informal debate to discuss their ideas. These games will allow participants to develop the fundamentals behind writing policy in a casual setting. Dr Clifford Singer, the Director of the Program in Arms Control and Domestic and International Security at UIUC, will moderate the event. Refreshments will be provided!

New York Academy of Sciences Panel: Science Denialism, Public Policy, and Global Health
June 28th, 6:00 PM, live stream link here

From climate change denial, to vaccine fears, to the rejection of the viral cause of HIV/AIDS, science denial has devastating implications for global health. This evening panel discussion for the general public will raise awareness of this issue, explore its causation, and provide a transparent dialogue for enacting meaningful responses to denialism today. The panel will be live streamed on Jun 28th at 6:00 pm and can be viewed here.

S|GNS (Science | Government, Institutions & Society) Summit
July 6-8, Chicago IL

The S|GNS summit is a network-wide meeting for emerging and established leaders across fields to share knowledge, build community, and develop their skills as science advocates, educators, and organizers. It will be held in Chicago, IL on July 6-8, 2018 and is an initiative of March for Science and will be co-hosted by the Field Museum and Hilton Chicago. It is going to be a weekend full of networking, skill-building, and idea-sharing at the intersection of science and society. In addition to talks, there will be workshops, panels, a project expo, and a number of community-building events! The registration fee will be waived for SPG participants–please contact Robby Goldman at rgoldma3@illinois.edu if you are interested in attending!

Connect with us

Follow updates from our group on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and WordPress.

Join one of our committees

All of our committees are recruiting new members! If you are interested in having an active role in planning SPG’s 2018 events, email spg.uiuc@gmail.com for more details!

Advice from the Fellowship Workshop

On March 12, the Science Policy Group Professional Development Committee ran a Science Policy Fellowship Workshop with the Graduate College Office of External Fellowships. This workshop was primarily focused on the application process and an overview of the prestigious AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship, with two former recipients of the fellowship presenting about their personal experiences during their time in the program. The event began with Dr. Karen Ruhleder from the Office of External Fellowships providing an introduction on some of the major science policy fellowships available, and then discussing the application process, deadlines, and some tips for writing personal statements tailored to science policy instead of scientific research. Then, former AAAS Fellow and current Professor in the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, Dr. Gay Miller, gave a short presentation regarding her own personal experiences during the program. In particular, Dr. Miller was able to provide insight in to working with the USDA, as that was where she was appointed to work during her fellowship; she also provided insight in to the hurdles that you may face as a scientist first transitioning in to a role in science policy and government, as the pace and expectations are very different. Additionally, she touched on how she has adapted her teaching and career path because of her experiences as a fellow and gave high praise for the program, further encouraging those interested to apply. Following Dr. Miller’s presentation, Dr. Melissa Cragin discussed her experiences as a AAAS Fellow with a placement in the National Science Foundation Directorate for the Biological Sciences. Like Dr. Miller, Dr. Cragin had high praise for the fellowship program and was adamant that those interested should apply (and apply more than once if you are unsuccessful the first time). She also recommended that those are accepted for an interview ask plenty of questions of their potential employer in terms of the structure of the leadership in that particular office, opportunities for travel, and the number and types of projects that the fellow will be asked to work on, as those vary widely and can greatly impact the fellow’s experience. Finally, Dr. Cragin mentioned that some of the agencies hire on their fellows to stay after their term and you are able to network a great deal during the fellowship, so this can easily lead to a job opportunity.

Overall, the two presenters were very enthusiastic and motivating! They had only positive things to say about the fellowship experience, and encouraged anyone interested to reach out to them regarding specific questions. Additionally, they both were very interested in participating in future SPG events and were happy to be able to share their knowledge with us!

March Newsletter

View our newsletter online

How to Write your Representative

Want to make a positive impact on Congressional science policy, but unsure how? Come to our evening workshop and learn how to write a personalized letter to your Congressional Representative! The workshop will be led by J.C. Kibbey, Midwest Outreach and Policy Advocate at the Union of Concerned Scientists. Food and drink will be provided. More information here.

Date: Wednesday, March 7th
Time: 4:00-5:50 pm
Location: English Building, Room 108


The March primary elections are just around the corner! Your vote is crucial for positively impacting science-based policy. Early voting begins March 13th, the Tuesday before Spring Break, at several locations, including Illini Union Room 213. Polling places will be open every day from March 13th through March 20th. Voter registration instructions, voter guide, and polling locations will be posted on our facebook event page here.

Fellowship Workshop

Interested in learning more about national science policy fellowships? Come join us and previous AAAS Science Policy Fellowship recipients Dr. Gay Miller and Dr. Melissa Cragin for a workshop providing first-hand insight in to one of the premier science policy fellowships! We will also provide an overview of some of the major science policy fellowships, application dates to know, and tips on how to strengthen your application over the summer. More information here.

Date: Monday, March 12th
Time: 3:30-5:00 pm
Location: ACES Library Monsanto Room

Join one of our committees!

All of our committees are recruiting new members! If you are interested in having an active role in planning SPG’s 2018 events, contact Suds Dwaraknath (dwarakn2@illinois.edu – Inform Committee), Libby Haywood (mayberr3@illinois.edu – Professional Development Committee), or Robby Goldman (rgoldma3@illinois.edu – Advocacy Committee) for more details!

Advice from Kacy Redd

Kacy Redd is the Assistant Vice President of STEM Education Policy at Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU). Here are some great resources that she has to share about how to make the jump from PhD programs into policy or other nontraditional careers:

  • This posting on ASBMB has good advice for scientists transitioning to policy.
  • This article is for scientists interested in community management.
  • Lou Woodley has lots of blog posts on this topic here and an interview here.
  • There are some case studies are here.

Feel free to reach out to Kacy with any questions at KRedd@aplu.org!

New legislation and the purpose of witness slips

Keep reading to see some policy in action that relates to graduate students!

Daniel Biss is introducing legislation tomorrow (SB2546) that would expand the definition of a graduate employee to include RA’s and not just TA’s This means RAs would be legally allowed to unionize. They are having a hearing about it tomorrow morning at 10:30 in Springfield. If you would like to show support for this bill, fill out a witness slip online using this link (representing yourself, not SPG please).

Witness slips show a person or group’s position on a particular bill. They are a vital piece of the legislative process because, before a bill is heard in committee, the chairperson will read who has submitted witness slips and whether they support or oppose the bill. This helps inform legislators as to where people stand, allowing informed decisions when voting. Witness slips are a great and relatively quick way to make your voice heard in state government.

See everyone that has submitted slips here.

Here is a link to the bill if you would like to read more about it (Ctrl-F “research”).